Kimchi: your new daily vitamin

January 11, 2011 § 1 Comment

Ok, so this is one area I was going to cheat on the local rule of my blog as I was supposed to be in LA for work, but my meeting got moved, so Boulder it is! What’s the saying? Cheaters never win, winners never cheat?  I did find a couple of good resources locally for Asian food supplies.  In Denver, the Pacific Mercantile turned out to have what I needed and for produce I found fresh Napa cabbage at the Sunflower market (as well as all of my other pickling needs).

Unlike the lackluster campaign behind sauerkraut, the Koreans know a good thing when they have it and treat kimchi like a national treasure. In Seoul they even have a museum dedicated to kimchi to educate visitors about the almost 200 different varieties, from its history to the fermentation process to models of all the different varieties.  They’re so serious about it, that in 1996, they lobbied for an international standard that protected traditional kimchi, the crux of it being that the Japanese version wasn’t really kimchi and therefore shouldn’t be allowed to be called kimchi.

It’s also worth mentioning its health benefits.  Health magazine named it one of the 5 healthiest foods.  I’m thinking seriously about eating this everyday.  It is a high source of fiber, vitamins A, B and C, “healthy bacteria” called lactobacilli that aid in digestion.  Many have done studies that indicate it may even prevent the growth of cancer.

I’ll be making a basic kimchi recipe from the Joy of Pickling:

3 T + 1 t. pickling salt
6 cups water
2 lbs. Chinese cabbage (napa cabbage), cored and cut in 2 ” squares
6 scallions, cut in 2 ” lengths and slivered lengthwise
1 1/2 T minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 T minced garlic
2 T Korean ground dried hot pepper
1 t sugar

1) dissolve salt in the water. put the cabbage into a large bowl, crock or nonreactive pot and pour the brine over it. weight the cabbage with a plate. let the bowl stand at room temperature for 12 hours.
2) drain the cabbage, reserving the brine. mix the cabbage with the remaining ingredients, including the remaining 1 t. salt. pack the mixture into a 2 quart jar. cover the cabbage with some of the reserved brine, push a food grade plastic bag into the mouth of the jar and pour the remaining brine into the bag. seal the bag. let the kimchi ferment in a cool place (no higher than 68 degrees F) for 3 to 6 days, until it’s as sour as you like.
3) remove the brine bag and cap the jar tightly. store in fridge where it will keep for months.

update: my friend Holly has let me know there’s a great Korean restaurant in Aurora that we’re going to check out thurs.  Korean BBQ SAE Jong Kwan.  Apparently Aurora is the place for Korean food.

Pickles! a tasty winter treat

January 9, 2011 § 2 Comments

I’m hoping this project will be a nice trip down memory lane through my childhood in Pennsylvania to then growing up in the South, to traveling around India and finally to all of the great Asian food I was exposed to living in LA.  The difference is this time I will be making the delicious pickled vegetables.  Pickles are a nice way to break up the monotony of winter and liven the taste buds a bit.

My exposure to pickled vegetables started as a kid where every New Year’s Day we would be subjected to eating sauerkraut, a leftover German tradition on my Mom’s side of the family. I never liked the taste of it but my grandmother sweetened the deal by hiding a new penny in it to bring good luck to whoever dished it onto their plate.  (My sister, Whitney was always the one to fish around for it.)  We’ve resorted to the sauerkraut in jars throughout most of my life, but I’d like to learn to make it fresh.

My grandparents also always had jars of yummy dill pickles around that a friend of theirs would drop by with, the kind of thing that neighbors used to do for each other.  I’ve gotten the recipe and am hoping to keep that tradition going.  My local friends will be getting lots of benefits from this project throughout the year!

In the South, the predominant pickled vegetable I loved was pickled okra, especially the spicier, garlicky kind.  I’ll be cheating a bit as I’ll be working in LA this week and will have a lot better produce at my disposal than what I can find in Boulder this time of year.  This will be the first time I’ll be bringing produce back in my suitcase vs new clothes!

Aside from the traditional American pickled vegetables, some that I’ve enjoyed the most have been those I’ve encountered through travels and living in LA.  While Indian pickles and chutneys aren’t my favorite, they are still worth a try.  I’ll be tasting them but not making them.  Korean kimchi is something I could literally eat everyday.  Japanese Tsukemono is not only delicious but gets the prize for being the most beautiful and colorful as well.  I will be taking full advantage of the amazing Asian grocery stores in LA this week.

While I’m not picking the best time of year to be doing this, who cares, because that’s the beauty of this project – I’m my own boss!

My sister-in-law introduced me to a great book which I’ll be consulting called The Joy of Pickling (not the most original title but hopefully the sentiment holds true).

If anyone has any great family recipes, please pass them along.  I would love to try them out! The plan is to taste at some of LA’s great restaurants this week, gather materials there and then start pickling and canning when I’m back in Boulder.

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