kimchi

Kkakdugi 깍두기 (Cubed Daikon Kimchi)

I have an unholy passion for kimchi and I’m not ashamed to admit it! I simply can’t get enough of this spicy Korean delight and it seems I am not alone. Some of my most popular posts to date have been kimchi related, so I thought it was about time I fed our collective obsession and posted another kimchi recipe. So this time around, I’m making one of my favourite types of kimchikkakdugi or cubed daikon kimchi.

Kkakdugi 깍두기 (Cubed Daikon Kimchi)Perhaps second only in popluarity to the almighty mak kimchi, kkakdugi is a great addition to any Korean dining experience. As you would expect with any type of kimchi, this version of the Korean staple is wonderfully piquant and highly addictive; though unlike most others, daikon kimchi has a delightful crunch and crispness to it which helps temper the spiciness of the chilli powder.

Personally, I find the process of making kkakdugi marginally less involved than mak kimchi and the fermenting period is also a little bit shorter, meaning you don’t have to wait quite as along to tuck into your kimchi! On the downside, kkakdugi doesn’t seem to fair as well as other kimchis in terms of its shelf-life, however, this may have more to do with my lack of technique and experience than a shortcoming of the dish!

With regard to technique, making any sort of kimchi is a matter of trial and error. Whilst the core process for making kimchi remains similar for each variety, each version has its own quirks and it may take a few attempts before you end up with a kimchi that suits your own tastes and preferences. Making the perfect kkakdugi has, up to now, been particularly vexing for me as I often find the kimchi comes out too watery and the daikon too limp. I have now taken to draining off the excess water as the kimchi ferments and I have also stopped peeling my daikon – both these seemingly minor tweaks to the process has resulted in a far superior end result (at least in my opinion).

For more Korean recipes from The Muddled Pantry, please click here

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Kimchi Risotto

If you follow this blog you’d know that I’m a tad obsessed with two things: kimchi and risotto! As much as I love both, I must admit I had my reservations about combining these two distinct flavour elements into a single dish. Kimchi and rice; that was a no-brainer, but kimchi and cheese? I just couldn’t get my head around how that would actually taste, frankly it sounded like fusion-cooking gone mad!

For a long while I just dismissed the notion of a kimchi risotto as a misguided attempt to make spicy fermented cabbage palatable to the uninitiated, by giving it a conventional context; but like cream-cheese sushi, it risks becoming a cultural and culinary aberration, an oxymoron that contradicts the very essence of what it purports to be. If you like that sort of thing, great, but it’s simply not for me. Generally speaking, fusion for fusion-sake leaves me cold.

Then one day I found myself in a serious food-rut; we’ve all be there before, we all know what grim times ruts can be. As I stared blankly at the contents of my refrigerator, I desperately hoped for a spark of inspiration. Nothing, we were mere minutes away from ordering pizzas for dinner, again. Then my eyes eventually rested upon that omnipresent fridge staple – kimchi. So strong was my desire not to have pizza, I thought: “Oh, sod it”. I figured making kimchi risotto was a win/win situation; either it would be amazing and I would love it, or it would be deplorable and I’d feel justified in my initial scepticism. I don’t mind admitting that I hoped for the latter, I don’t like being wrong.

As hungry as I was, I tried my best to dislike it, but I couldn’t. It was fantastic! My initial concerns about the combination of kimchi and cheese were unfounded. In reality the richness of the cheese muted the bite of the kimchi; mellowing it just enough to allow for an appreciation of the subtle flavours that normally hide behind the spicy, sharp bravado of kimchi. To my surprise, fusion cuisine had done the unthinkable – it had made kimchi taste better.

Does this fusion revelation mean I’ll be tucking into a portion of cream-cheese & biltong maki any time soon? Don’t count on it, but there are plenty of fusion temptations out there; bacon ice-cream, anyone? Perhaps not.

RECIPE NOTE: The rice quantities for these recipes vary depending on the number of people you are feeding and whether you intend making the risotto as a main meal or an accompaniment. As a general rule of thumb, I use approx. 70-80ml of rice per person for a main meal and 50-60ml as an side dish. Generally, risotto recipes on my blog are based on 2 people eating a full portion.

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Kimchi Pancakes (Kimchijeon)

Kimchi PancakesSo great, you’ve made your first batch of mak kimchi and now you’re probably wondering what the heck to do with it? One word: pancakes.

I know it may sound strange, maybe even a little wrong, but relax, these aren’t pancakes of the sweet variety – these are spicy, savoury treats that make for the prefect snack or light meal. Simple and delicious, kimchi pancakes are a great way to get your kimchi-fix without having to go to the effort of making an elaborate Korean meal. Kimchijeon is perhaps my favourite way to eat kimchi; I love to eat mine with a fried egg, topped with some chopped spring onions, laver (Korean dried seaweed) and a dollop of chilli sauce! Kimchi-bliss

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Mak Kimchi (Napa Cabbage Kimchi)

IMG_5453 (480x640)When most people think of kimchi they usually have Mak Kinchi in mind. Made with napa (Chinese) cabbage it is perhaps the most commonly found variety of kimchi, especially outside Korea. Of all the kimchi out there (and there are many) Mak Kimchi is still my personal favourite; it is versatile, its ingredients readily available, and most importantly, it is easy to make.

I used to buy my kimchi ready made from my local Asian supermarket, but it wasn’t really spicy enough for my palette and that it often went off very quickly. I found the latter odd, given that kimchi is by its very definition preserved and therefore shouldn’t go mouldy after just a couple of weeks in the fridge.

Determined to make my own, I bought various kimchi making contraptions on my last visit to Japan. I scoured the internet looking for recipes and I stocked up on an obscene amount of Korean Chilli Powder. My first few attempts were a bit disappointing but eventually, through trial and error, I started to make passable Mak Kimchi. I must confess that I no longer use any of those weird and wonderful kimchi contraptions that I hauled all the way back from Japan. All you really need is a large glass jar, a little patience and you too can make your own kimchi!

I have no doubt that my attempts would be a mockery compared to kimchi in Korea itself; but thankfully I’m not in Korea. I live in Cape Town and here my kimchi is pretty damn good!

Click here for the recipe