Kitchen hour: Make White Baechu Kimchi

    Yesterday is momentous. Here we are, making kimchi. Is that a big deal? Yes. There’s a joke that if you’re gonna get married into a Korean family you’d better learn how to make kimchi. It’s just pickled vegetables, but it has an entire nation behind its back (and a pretty proud one at that), so you can’t mess with it and expect something good to happen. So here we are, jotting down the recipe from Lucky Peach Issue 2, going to Koreana, buying a clay jar to show that we mean business. Glass jars are so… see-through? (And no, there’s no Korean wedding that I know of… for now. Maybe Kristen will shoot me an invitation to her big day next month with Park Hyunbae and now she’s just using the delicious drama Kimchi Family as an excuse, and I’m her Guinea pig. :-D)

    But yeah, for now, Kimchi Family is the main reason to our story. It’s a Korean food drama, and it’s delicious. Not only do they show tasty pictures of kimchi glistering and steaming under the sun beam, they make food making seem peaceful! It’s not like Food Network competition stuff where all you see are burly husky men (and unfortunately, women) with glowing red face running like mad in the kitchen with a clock ticking to death, a host rushing out 300 words per minute, knives and flames flaring up everywhere. Nah, Kimchi Family shows two sisters gently mixing and stuffing kimchi into jars, telling stories in their gentle voice and ending their scene always with a gentle smile. Between them and the competition chefs, we think they look cooler. So we bought a clay jar to make kimchi.

    DAY 1
    Step 1: Wash the clay jar with salt and water, wipe dry. Actually, we didn’t do Step 1 until after we finished Step 6, but anyway.

    Step 2: Wash, peel off funny-looking leaves from the napa cabbage. Cut it up and mix the parts with salt and sugar. Let the bundle sleep in the fridge overnight. (How should you cut it up? Dave Chang said in his Lucky Peach recipe to cut into 4 quarters length-wise, then into 2-inch pieces, but his recipe calls for the oh-so-American glass jar. The movies usually show grandmas stuffing chili sauce in between the leaves of the whole cabbage, so romantically we guess we shouldn’t even cut it up, but we chose the mid-ground: 4 quarters length-wise, then halve them, so 8 pieces total.)

    DAY 2

    Step 3: Julienne carrots, julienne ginger, cut green onion into 2-inch-long sticks.
    Step 4: In a juicer, blend together garlic, ginger, and corn syrup.
    Step 5: Mix garlic-ginger-syrup sauce with soy sauce and vinegar.
    Step 6: Drain the napa cabbage from its salty water.

    Step 7: Rub the sauce in Step 5 into every crevice of the brined cabbage, mix green onion and carrots for colors.

    Step 8: Stuff the vegetables into the jar and pour the sauce on top.

    Step 9: Smile and take a picture.

    Now let’s wait 7 days and hope that the kimchi will turn out well. If it does, the ingredient list with all precise measurements will be updated. If not, there’ll be some massive cleaning up to do, but you won’t hear about it.

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