Have you ever wondered what is that unusual red salad which characters from Korean dramas eat almost all the time? What is more, they even sometimes prepare it diligently (remember the classic “Boys before Flowers”) in front of us? Or perhaps you have been for a long time now a passionate fan of this culinary challenge for everybody, who is not used to spicy food?
Along with the main courses, Korean traditional table offers a wide range of side dishes, which may act as appetizers, yet they play a crucial role in the typical Asian mixture of flavors, so unexpected and unusual for the western taste. Among these side dishes there is always kimchi – exactly this red salad which is usually made with fermented Chinese cabbage and lots of spices. It accompanies every Korean meal of the day – breakfast, lunch and dinner. Traditional Korean cuisine is basically quite hot and this is why it is difficult to state that the kimchi is the spiciest of all. However, its picante flavor should not be underestimated.
One can find many recipes and variations of this preferred Korean dish according to the different regions and traditions. Its popularity abroad is also constantly growing due to the wide range of vitamins and healthy benefits it offers, and of course, its irresistible taste. The appetite for kimchi in Bulgaria has been increasing in the recent years as well. It can be found in every Korean restaurant in Bulgaria and can also be easily prepared at home, since the necessary ingredients can be found on the market. The process of preparing it requires a bit of patience and perhaps a pair of glasses to protect you from the spicy smell, however it can be real fun.
We were assured in this during Mrs. Lee’s workshop on Korean cuisine, held at Yun Korean restaurant, Sofia. Below you can find the recipe for Baechu-kimchi, which is the one where the cabbage is used whole and it is also the one we tried and can guarantee – the result is delicious! If you decide to enroll in this culinary adventure, you will have the chance to control the levels of spiciness according to you own taste. Kimchi goes great with rice, yet it can be combined in all kinds of multicultural dishes – sоme experiment with kimchi and pizza, while others recommend kimchi alongside traditional Bulgarian rakia.
If you prefer spicy food, there is quite a significant chance once you try kimchi, you will wish to have one of those refrigerators, specially designed to store your enormous stock of this delicious Korean dish!
Ingredients for 6 servings:
1 medium head napa cabbage
3 – 4 medium scallions
1 – 2 yellow onions
6 cloves garlic
2 tablespoon ginger
2 tablespoons salt
1 – 5 tablespoons Korean red pepper flakes (gochugaru)
2 tablespoons fish sauce
Cut the cabbage lengthwise through the stem only half-way through. Salt the cabbage and let it ferment for about 6 hours.
For the sauce: Blend the yellow onion, the garlic and the ginger together with the fish sauce. Cut the radish, the leeks and the scallions into matchsticks. Then mix it all together and add salt and Korean red pepper flakes.
After the cabbage has stayed for 6 hours, wash it from the salt. Then put thoroughly the sauce on its leaves one by one, as shown on the photograph.
Finally, make the cabbage into such a cute little bundle with the last leaf (or two dependent on the size).
Now the kimchi can be chopped and served straight away or you can wait for it to ferment a bit more. It should be stored in a cold place or in the refrigerator.
맛있게 드세요! Bon appétit!