It makes your smile look just as nice as saying “cheese,” I promise.
Anyway, I’ve been getting homesick lately. Home is where the heart is, and I must say that mine’s with my family. I haven’t lived with them since I was 16 and I’m only just beginning to realize how much I’ve forgotten yet how much I’ve learned. It’s been a long journey thus far and I’m only moving forward. While there are so many positive aspects to this sense of independence and process of maturation, there is undoubtedly a feeling of emptiness.
These pangs of longing were only amplified when I noticed that the dishes I’ve been preparing or ordering were quite un-Korean. It hit me especially hard when I was finally able to see one of my best friends, Joanne, after nearly a year of distance between us. For the most part, she usually kept me in check with my Korean background, especially when it came to the kinds of food I ate. To be honest, my exposure to anything pertaining to the Korean culture has been sadly limited over the past year. It was not deliberate whatsoever, but I guess it led me now to deliberately rekindle my love for Korean food.
So, what’s a better way to do this than making kimchee? The absolute staple in Korean cuisine. It goes with just about everything. Come on, even my non-Asian roommate enjoys eating it. Although, I must add, it’s with tortilla chips and lemon powder (to add a more sour kick to it). She claims that kimchee is her new favorite dip. I have not yet tried it in this manner, but …I’m telling you, kimchee is oh so versatile and wonderful. It should be in everybody’s fridge, Korean or not. It’s available at most grocery stores, especially in Asian-infested Hawaii, and it’s also very easy and cheap to make at home. You should try it!
Although I grew up watching my grandma make enough kimchee to feed the homeless, I really don’t remember the exact ingredients nor procedure. This saddens me deeply. So, in order to restore the missing pieces to this memory, I decided to put myself in my grandma’s kimchee squat. Not really, but you get the point.
I surfed the web for different kimchee recipes and I just picked at each recipe and incorporated what I could remember to produce a kimchee that I hoped would taste close my grandma’s.
This wishy-washy recipe is as follows:
1 large napa cabbage, cut length-wise twice then chopped into smaller pieces
1/4 cup of salt
2 1/5 cups of water
1/3 cup gochu ggaroo (red pepper flakes)
1-2 tbspn fish sauce (you can use soy sauce if you prefer)
1-2 tbspn sugar
5 raw oysters (optional)
1 cucumber, sliced into thin strips
1/2 apple or pear, grated (natural sweetener)
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small-med yellow onion, sliced
Soak the chopped cabbage in 1 1/2 cups of lukewarm water mixed with the salt for about two hours.
In the meantime, mix the red peppers with the sugar, fish oil, and 1 cup of water and make into a spicy red paste.
After cabbage is wilted and ready, rinse with cold water thoroughly (I did not do that and so my kimchee was a little on the saltier side, boohoo).
Add the prepared cucumber, onion, apple and garlic to the rinsed cabbage.
Mix the paste in with the fruit & veggies until everything is evenly covered.
Add oysters for more flavor.
Store in jars or containers in the fridge and enjoy whenever!
- If any of you readers have variations to the recipe, feel free to share! I’m a total beginner at this and I’m definitely willing to try other perhaps better recipes for one of my favorite Korean dishes!