Glorious Kimchi: Get Your Fizz On!

By Retta Edling

Fermented foods are making a comeback as more people discover the flavors and health benefits of these fizzy, often fragrant concoctions.

Yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut and finally, kimchi (keem-chee) are all being made by the home cook seeking food as medicine packed with flavor.

I fell in love with almost every kimchi I tried while visiting South Korea. When I got home, the local Korean stores kept me in stinky stock with every kind I could want.

After years of buying this stuff, I decided to wade in and make it at home. The hardest part is knowing what the ingredients are and where to find them. If you have never tried to make this ancient traditional Korean staple and would like to, hold your nose and come along.

A person needs recipes and advice, so I hit the internet. With research and trial and error, I landed on these top Korean Cooking blogs. They have evolved and improved over the years so the information provided there is more comprehensive than it used to be:

My first two recipes are the ones I still prefer today. I made the spicy Mak Kimchi (Easy Kimchi) and  the refreshing Easy Dongchimi (Water Radish Kimchi) from Hyosun Ro’s blog Koreanbapsang.com.

My Dongchimi has extra ginger and no peppers. You can make the recipes to your taste with practice.

The ingredients are mostly not the usual American fare. I tried my best to translate the pronunciations from Hangul (the Korean language) here.

The first few times I took the list in English and in Hangul with me to the store, or brought up the recipes on my phone. I searched for some on my own, pointed and asked the clerks about others. Sometimes other shoppers have pitched in to help.

Photo: Hyosun Ro

 

  • The blue bag in the photo contains coarse sea salt.
  • Taller bottle contains myulchiaekjoet (myawrlcheeayk-jawt), an anchovy fish sauce.
  • Shorter jar contains saeujeot (sayoo-jawt), tiny, stinky salted shrimp found in the fridge section of the store. Leave it out if you don’t eat shellfish.
  • Red bag contains gochucaru (koh-chew-kar-oo), a red pepper powder (get the one marked “coarse” because fine is concentrated).

The produce is a mix of common and unfamiliar.

Photo by Hyosun Ro

 

  • Top Left: Mu (moo), Yes, moo is food. This radish is similar in flavor to daikon. Daikon can be substituted, but it has a slightly different flavor.
  • Napa cabbage, scallions, garlic Cloves and scallions and Asian pears are more familiar.
  • The little green and red peppers are chosen based on availability and the flavor you want. I leave them out of my Dongchimi.

Once the mixture has been stirred all together, pour it into your favorite storage container.

Photo by Hyosun Ro

The simplest way to store your beautiful creations is in mason jars. I “burp” them each night for the first week or so to release gas as it builds up. I am not sure that is necessary. Just follow the directions from your chosen recipe.

These Premium Kimchi Containers can also be used for sauerkraut. A special inner vacuum lid keeps the kimchi submerged and airtight with an optional vent. The containers have no BPAs and are made with 7-10% clay for optimal storage.

Photo from Amazon.com

 

In Colorado Springs there are several Korean food stores that carry ingredients for Korean food. H Mart has two locations in the Denver area and is an American supermarket chain with mostly Korean products.

People who really want to throw themselves into Korean cooking would do well to visit them all.

They all carry banchan made with their own recipes.

Be brave and say “choggio” (jaw-gee-yo)—polite form of “you there”– or other handy shopping terms to ask someone for assistance in the store.  The clerks generally love to help.

Here is my quick tour:

  • H Mart has some of almost everything Korean, including cookware, pastry vendors (take cash), cosmetics and kimchi refrigerators. Yes, I want one of those fridges.
  • Asiana is the store I shop most because they have other food I like. If I run out of kimchi, or don’t want to make it, I get that here in small or gallon jars. They also have a small take-out counter.
  • Asian Pacific Market is my go-to for produce. They have a huge selection at excellent prices. They also have a nice selection of the Korean grown Asian pears. They don’t sell a lot of products from Korea.
  • Seoul Market (also called Seoul Oriental Grocery) is smaller and has good choices.
  • Shinsadong and Springs Korean Market are across the street from each other. They have the biggest cabbages.

Dive into the stinky land of kimchi and get your fizz on!

For more information or help making your gimche, contact Retta Edling at paper@ppcc.edu

 

 

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