Cabbage Kimchi calling

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I’ve been rather intrigued to make kimchi for quite sometime now so when my brother’s ladylove suggested a trip to Korea Foods in New Malden I jumped at the chance to visit this destination supermarket, as well as stock up on supplies to make my very own kimchi.  For those who are unfamiliar with kimchi, it’s basically a Korean fermented cabbage side dish that is as ubiquitous in Korea as miso soup is in Japan. It has a fiery kick, a crunch and is terribly moreish.

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Korea Foods is a delight for anyone interested in food and especially Asian food. I could easily pass a couple of hours there given the opportunity. We gathered the necessary ingredients to make kimchi as well as the perfect pyrex container to store it in – see photos (very important as you do not want the smell to perfume your whole house or for the juices to escape). We could not resist buying a few more Asian supplies as well as some savoury snacks for lunch, which included a pot of their homemade kimchi as we felt it would be good to compare ours with those of the pros.

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We received a few gasps of astonishment when we mentioned we were making our own kimchi. It made me wonder what we were letting ourselves in for. Was it really that hard to ferment cabbage? Anyway with the necessary ingredients in our shopping trolleys, we headed home to conquer some kimchi making.

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 The initial slicing, dicing and mixing together is very straightforward. It then requires daily squelching to release the gases and submerge the cabbage. You need to store is in a cool place, out of direct sunlight, for up to 5 days before putting it in the fridge.

The whole resting and fermenting period takes around 2 weeks. You can try a little as the days roll by to see how it tastes. I have been having a little bit most days, with my lunch or on the side with my supper. I fed some to a friend who had lived for years in Japan – ok I know it is not Korea – but she gave it the definite thumbs up and reminisced how she would regularly eat it in Japan with a bowl of rice.

It’s certainly a labour of love, but one that motivated me to visit Korea Foods and explore the ingredients of Korea. Now I know the route to get there there will be no stopping me to return very soon.

You may also be interested to read a short article I wrote for Country and Town House Magazine online about the rise of Korean Food in London – read here.

For those brave enough to make their very own kimchi do let me know how you get on.

 

Cabbage Kimchi

adapted from Emily Ho’s recipe on The Kitchn

1 napa cabbage, halved lengthways and then quartered  (core removed)

70g sea salt

water for soaking

1 tsp of fresh ginger, grated

5 cloves of fresh garlic, grated

1 tsp sugar

1 tbsp fish sauce

1 tbsp salted shrimp (see 2nd photo from the top)

3 tbsp Korean red pepper flakes known as gochugaru

250g daikon, cut into 1 inch match sticks

5 spring onions cut into 1 inch matchsticks

1. First quarter the cabbage lengthways and then cut into 2 inch strips and place in a large bowl with the salt. Work the salt into the cabbage for a minute so that it softens and then add enough water so that it covers the cabbage. Cover the cabbage with a plate and press down using a heavy object. Leave to stand for 1 hour.

2. Drain the cabbage thoroughly under cold water a few times so the salt has been washed away. Leave to drain thoroughly.

3. Meanwhile prepare the paste by mixing the ginger, garlic, sugar, fish sauce and salted shrimp together, followed by the Korean red pepper flakes. Using your hands (I used washing up gloves) gently massage the paste into the daikon, spring onions and the now fully drained cabbage so that they are fully covered.

4. Transfer the kimchi into your pyrex jar and press down firmly so that the cabbage and vegetables are packed tightly.

5. Leave to stand out of direct sunlight for up to 5 days. Each day you need to complete the ritual of pressing down firmly so that the vegetables are submerged under the brine. Very pungent odours are released during this period of fermentation. Do not be put off as the end result will taste great. After the 5 days transfer to the fridge. If you leave it for another week or two in the fridge it will taste even better, but equally you can try some after the first 5 days.


Broccoli, White Beans and Lemons with Red Pepper Flakes

IMG_7917A very HAPPY NEW YEAR to you all. I hope that you saw in the new year in style. I tend to opt for more relaxed, low key affairs on New Years eve so that I can wake feeling as fresh as daisy on the first of January. I am always impressed by those who are able to take part in the Hyde Park New Year’s Day run or those who decide to enter the freezing waters surrounding Britain, which is becoming increasingly more popular as the years roll by. Typically my family go on a good long ramble and play board games in front of the fire. This year we’ll be playing a lot of ‘Pucket’, which was given to me this Christmas. It’s hugely addictive and really good fun and I’ve turned into a little demon playing it, much to the annoyance of my siblings. You can purchase your very own board here.

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As is often the way we all start the year with many good intentions, whether that be to exercise more, drink less, eat more healthily, read more, achieve more (* delete as appropriate) but as the months go by some of our good intentions begin to wane. I thought that I would lend a hand however on the eat more healthily part. I can bet that we’ll be seeing numerous detox diets and health programmes in the papers and magazines this coming weekend. I do think it is good idea to cleanse the body but to bear in mind that it is January and it is cold and therefore we do need those hearty dishes now and again to fill our bellies. Pulses, vegetables and fish is a great way to start off the year and to only eat meat products a couple of times a week – avoiding too much diary is also a sensible way to crack on with the year.

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I thought this recipe would be a great one to kick off the year with as you may already have all the ingredients in your kitchen waiting to be thrown together. It’s incredibly quick to prepare and can be eaten hot or cold, on its own or accompanied by some white fish or a crab cake perhaps. Tasty and packed with goodness, it’s definitely a feel good dish. Helen who runs the website ‘Well-Being Secrets’ has written an in-depth piece on the benefits of broccoli here, which is both fascinating and highly informative, so have a read. I also like Joey Bruno’s, founder of Thrive Cuisine, article here.

For those who had a ridiculously large night and are feeling a little worse for wear, might I suggest the health regime starts tomorrow and you tuck into some of these little beauties instead – see here.

Broccoli, White Beans and Lemons with Red Pepper Flakes

adapted from the December 2013 issue of Bon Appetit Magazine

Serves 4

3 large tbsp of olive oil

4 garlic cloves, finely sliced

3 anchovy fillets packed in oil

1 lemon, washed and finely sliced (pips removed)

225g broccoli, chopped into small florets

5 stems of fresh thyme

2x400g tins of cannellini beans, rinsed

200ml water

salt and pepper

generous pinch of red pepper flakes

2 tbsp parmesan, finely grated (plus a little extra for grating on top)

1. Gently heat the oil in a large deep pan and then add the garlic, lemons and anchovies, stirring occasionally to help break up the anchovies. Cook for 5 minutes before adding the broccoli florets and thyme and stirring into the juices from the lemon.

2. After a further 5 minutes add the cannellini beans and water and stir into the other ingredients. Season with salt and pepper, bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer allowing the flavours to blend together for a further 5 minutes.

3. Add the parmesan and stir into the ingredients and place a lid on the pan and take off the heat.

4. Turn out onto a serving dish and sprinkle with red pepper flakes (chilli flakes could also be an option here in fact) and an extra scattering of fresh parmesan.

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