Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Mul (water) Kimchee

No Korean table is complete without a dish or two of kimchee, the national dish. Kimchee is korean for pickle and are made in a variety of spice levels and with different types of vegetables and seafood. The most popular is the napa cabbage pickled with red chili powder, the redness making it look much more spicy than it actually is. No vinegar is used in making kim chee, the acidity and sourness comes from fermentation, requiring an aging period of 3 days to months. People enjoy kim chees in various stageness of ripeness and is categorized as "new" or "old." I prefer old kim chee when the pickling flavors have completely penetrated each cabbage leaf. Really old kim chee is great for making stews so never throw away your kim chee.

This week at the Alemany Farmer's Market, I found a bunch of young daikon for only a dollar. Can't get any cheaper than that, so I decided to make mul kimchee, a pickle without the characteristic red peppers, in a "brothy" brine. It's usually served cold and is great when it's hot.

Trim off the greens, scrub clean the radish without peeling the skin and rinse the greens. I only peeled the head of the radish where stubborn dirt was hiding in its fold. Slice the radish and place in bowl with the greens and about 1/4 cup of sea or kosher salt, do not use table salt for this preparation.

Then add water to cover the vegetable for about for about 2 to 4 hours, if your kitchen is on the colder side, it will take closer to 4 hours. Drain, reserving the salt water and add more fresh water to adjust the saltiness. It should be salty but not as salty as the sea, for my recipe I ended up adding 2 cups of water to the 6 cups of salty water.

In a non reactive container, either glass or plastic, place the radish and water along with the following: 4 cloves of garlic, minced or thinly sliced (more or less depending on taste); 4 slices of ginger; one jalepeno chilies sliced, 1 T of red chili threads, 1 T sugar.

Cover tightly and allow it to ferment outside of the refrigerator for 2 - 5 days. My kitchen is on the cooler side and it took 7 days.

Other than making kimchee, daikons are great roasted or boiled andI love how they turn sweet and tender from the heat.

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