Kimchi and Quinoa
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I would like to start the New Year backwards; forget resolutions, forget new beginnings. Lets go back, way, way back. Let’s make a recipe that has been a part of history for thousands of years. Let’s make a recipe that requires time and patience. Let’s make a recipe that is not trendy. Let’s make a recipe that requires slowing down. Let’s make a recipe that requires bacteria do all the work. Let’s make a recipe that tastes funky. Let’s make a recipe that is still alive when eaten. Let’s make Kimchi!

If you have had the pleasure of eating kimchi, you know that it is tangy, sour, spicy, and a bit addictive. A little bit goes a long way but it never seems enough. When in college, kimchi would be the highlight of winter. Nothing would warm me up as well as the bowl of spicy soft tofu stew with a side of kimchi made at Collegetown’s best Korean restaurant. When going to a restaurant seemed impossible due to below zero temperatures, I would pair kimchi, bought at the local Asian market, with simple blanched vegetables and rice. 

I haven’t had kimchi in a while. Since moving away from Ithaca, and into Cambridge, then New York, Korean has become less accessible. As I browsed the new Kinfolk book (Gawh! Beautiful!), I stumbled upon a recipe by the food writer Rosa Park titled Kimchi Couscous. It immediately crept to the top of my recipes to make list. I immediately tough of switching the couscous for quinoa, since it just tastes better to me. And, instead of buying ready-made kinchi, I decided to take on the challenge of making it at home with the help of Sarah B.’s recipe.

This vegetarian kimchi recipe has been adapted to showcase some of my all time favorite ingredients. Because kimchi is one of those recipes that has been handed down through centuries, then adapted to every households taste buds, I knew it would be ok to change things up a bit. Unlike the traditional kimchi recipes, my version  is vegetarian. Cilantro, makes my kimchi special. While the fermentation time is not as long as traditional, I think it is more refreshing and less pungent. Nonetheless, deliciously spicy and belly warming with a kick! This is the perfect winter food.

Kimchi

Adapted from My New Roots

Makes about 6 cups

  •  1 Napa cabbage
  • 4 carrots
  • 1 daikon
  • 2 tablespoons good quality sea salt
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 in knob ginger
  • 3 tablespoon red chili flakes
  • 1 bunch cilantro

Aside from the normal stuff (knife, cutting board, and a large bowl), you will need 3 pint sized mason jars and a lot of patience.

Start by washing all vegetables. Cut Napa cabbage into bite sized chunks and slice carrots and daikon into thin slices. Place vegetables in a large clean bowl. Add garlic, ginger, and chili flakes to a food processor. Pulse until ingredients resemble a thick paste. Add salt and chili paste to vegetables. Massage for 5 minutes. Mixture should be fragrant. Let vegetables sit at room temperature, covered with plastic wrap for 3-4 hours. Massage once more halfway through. The vegetables should have reduced in size significantly. There should be some brine at the bottom of the bowl. Add chopped cilantro when ready to transfer into sanitized mason jars.

To sanitize mason jars, place then in a large pot with enough water to fully cover them. Bring water to a boil. Boil for 15 to 20 minutes. Turn off heat. Place tongs you will use to remove jars in the water. Let the jars and tongs sit for another 10 minutes in the hot water. Transfer jars, face up, onto to a paper towel. Air dry for a minute.

Once jars are dry, transfer vegetables. Using a clean spoon tightly pack kimchi into jars, making sure to leave little air gaps. Lightly close each jar and let kimchi sit on your counter for 2-3 days. As the hours go by, you will start to notice little bubbles forming and the amount of brine increasing. After two days smell and taste the kimchi using a very clean spoon (no double dipping, it could spoil the kimchi). Kimchi should be sour and pungent, not foul.  If you like the taste, place jars in the refrigerator, otherwise, leave for another day or two until desired taste is achieved. The kimchi becomes funkier the longer you leave it fermenting. It should not develop mold, if it does, toss and start over.

While making this recipe, make sure to maintain a clean surface and only use very clean utensils to handle the kimchi. While kimchi is extremely good for you (good bacteria, healthy gut!) bad bacteria can make you sick. Don’t double dip, if you use an utensil to taste, toss and use a new clean one to mix and/or taste again. Sanitizing the mason jars is crucial!

Kimchi Quinoa

Adapted from The Kinfolk Table Cookbook recipe by Rosa Park

Serves 3-4

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water, or vegetable broth
  • pinch of salt
  • 2/3 cup kimchi
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro, chopped.
  • 1 friedegg

Rinse quinoa in a sieve under running water.  Transfer quinoa to a small pot. Add water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium high. Cook uncovered until most of the water has been evaporated. Cover, and then reduce heat to low. Cook for another ten to fifteen minutes. Quinoa is done when it becomes translucent and a small white coil emerges around each grain. Remove from heat and set aside. Place kimchi in a small pot. Cook until full heated through (3-4 minutes). Add heated kimchi to cooked quinoa. Stir until evenly distributed. Add chopped cilantro.  To serve, add quinoa to a plate, and top off with a fried egg. Devour!