When it comes to Kimchi, I was lucky to learn from a master. My friend Sang Kim is a well-known Canadian chef, a prize-winning fiction writer, and runs
Sushi Making For The Soul, Canada’s most popular sushi-making class.
In his classes, you don’t only learn the art of sushi, but the fascinating
history behind it. I met Chef Sang a few years ago when I took my girlfriend to his class for her birthday.
I was amazed to meet this man. He had so much knowledge about sushi, the history & traditions, and etiquette. Just spending a few hours in his class blew my mind. I kept in touch with him and last year he was gracious enough to invite me to a Toronto restaurant to film a sushi and
bibimap (Korean-style sushi) video.
In this video we captured him in the Kravings Kitchen for some kimchi with a side of K-Pop – for real!
This year, I decided to open up my channel to cook with some dynamic personalities and Chef Sang Kim was at the top of my list. He suggested making Kimchi and I jumped at the opportunity. From what I knew of the subject(and it’s very little), Kimchi is Korea’s pride. They take this fermented Cabbage or Turnip very very seriously. And why not? When something is so steeped in history and tradition, you must give it the respect it deserves. Some things can be rushed, Kimchi cannot.
According to Chef Sang, this recipe belongs to his grandmother. Even though we have provided measures in the recipe, it’s one of those things that you develop a feel for. She knows exactly when the cabbage needs to be pulled out of the brine, and what the texture of the rice paste needs to be and just how long the marinade needs to be mixed. I’m very proud of my traditional recipes too, and I totally get the passion that the Koreans have for Kimchi.
Kimchi is made typically with cabbage that is brined, marinated, and left to ferment. From the old days , kimchi-making was a community event, called kimjang . After the fall harvest, the women would gather to make large batches of kimchi together for each home . It was marked by laughter, story-telling, and even gossip while filling clay jars with this precious cargo. This jar is called a onggi. If it’s really small, the jar is called danji, hangari for a medium sized jar,
and dok if it’s large. Because there was no refrigeration in those days , these jars were buried in the ground and the kimchi was enjoyed during the winter.
In the modern kitchen, Chef Sang cautions us to fill mason jars but leave a space at the top for the gases to rise. Pack it too tightly and the bottle could explode. He suggested leaving it on the counter for a few days and then storing it in the fridge. By leaving it outside, the fermentation process is slow, but the Kimchi is crispier. Because of my fear of an exploding bottle(and I’m sure that that rarely happens), I opened my jars a few times to allow the gas to escape.
For this recipe, we used a whole Napa cabbage. Trust me this makes a LOT of Kimchi, if you want to make a smaller batch or just want to try it for the first time, I’d recommend starting with a quarter first.
Please make sure to watch the video, it gives you a very good insight into the actual process.
Chef Kim gifts kimchi to random strangers who have contributed in powerful and positive ways to their communities . The chosen few get a onggi dropped at their front door with a note. They can enjoy the kimchi as a gift but must return the onggi so the chain is not broken! In 2018, he will be dropping off 26 kimchi gifts for his campaign. Check out his Instagram to see who is the next lucky recipient – https://www.instagram.com/
- 1 Napa Cabbage
- 1 cup Salt
- 12 cups cold Water
- 3 fresh Red Chillies(Long)
- 8 – 22 cloves Garlic
- 2 cups quartered white Onion
- 2 cups cubed Asian Pear
- 2 inch piece Ginger
- ½ - ¾ cups coarse Chilli powder(Chinese or Korean)
- 2 cups grated Carrots
- 1 cup grated Daikon Radish
- ½ cup Spring Onion leaves
- 1 cup brined baby Shrimp
- ½ cup Rice flour in 1 cup of water
- Quarter the cabbage and soak it in the brine(salt & water) for 8 hours, turning at intervals, drain the water and squeeze the cabbage to get all the water out
- Place the fresh chillies, garlic, onion, pear and ginger in a blender and blend till smooth
- Prepare a smooth mixture with the rice flour and water by whisking it over heat till smooth
- Add the red chilli powder, carrots, radish, baby shrimp & rice paste and mix well
- Lift the cabbage leaves and make sure to rub the marinade on both sides
- Store the Kimchi is a clay pot or in mason jars for a few days outside, before storing in the fridge