Delicious reasons to make your own kimchi

One year when I was living in Brooklyn, fuzzy perilla plants took over the common yard of my apartment building, so my husband washed an...


One year when I was living in Brooklyn, fuzzy perilla plants took over the common yard of my apartment building, so my husband washed and dried the abundance of leaves and piled them with a quick kimchi sauce he had reduced in puree in mini food processor. It was so simple and so good that we made more every few weeks until the plants died.

There’s a cosmic variety of kimchi types and styles, and making your own is a satisfying way to preserve the vegetables you love – radishes, cabbage, cucumbers, mustard greens, spring onions, and more. – then create countless meals with them. If you’re not used to it, I advise you to start with Eric Kim’s tongbaechu kimchi.

The recipe features sweet and crunchy Napa cabbage. Cut into wedges, salted and drained, the pieces are dipped in a colorful gochugaru sauce made from apple, onion, ginger and garlic, and left to ferment for a few weeks (and up to six months). Making this vegetarian kimchi is easy: replace the fish sauce with another rich, salty ingredient, like vegan fish sauce, soy sauce, miso, or a mix of all three.

The juice itself – a mixture of the sweet liquid released by the cabbage and the spicy garlicky kimchi sauce – will be so delicious. Don’t waste it! In this kimchi and hash browns, it is essential not to drain the kimchi before adding it to the pan because the liquid seasons the potatoes and helps them cook. And in this porridge recipe, a splash of kimchi juice acts almost like a pinch of seasoned salt.

Kimchi is on its own timeline. And if you taste it every few days, as Eric suggests in his recipe, you’ll really be in tune with its progress. Some weeks it may seem like it’s speeding up, or slowing down, or the personality of the kimchi changing (it does!). Like a fruit, it ripens, rushing towards a beautiful, inevitable and deep acidity.

About six months later may seem too far away, but kimchi still has something for you. Just as you could cook overripe strawberries into a crumble, you can turn super sour kimchi into a stew, like this vegetarian version of soon dubu jjigaeand it will reward you with more nuanced depth, intensity and flavor.

If you make the dish or DIY it, let me know. I’d like to think of the salad component on top, dressed in vinegar-soaked shallots and capers, as completely flexible – one day it might be radicchio and roasted mushrooms instead of potatoes, and a another of sliced ​​radishes and snow peas, salad leaves, roasted baby artichokes or a bunch of torn herbs.

Thanks for reading The Veggie, and see you next week!


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