Serious Eats: Recipes

Cook the Book: Quick Kimchi

[Photographs: Julie Toy]

No Korean meal is complete without a bit of kimchi, the love-or-hate-it fermented vegetable preparation, usually made of cabbage or radish. Kimchi's flavor varies widely depending on how it's made. It can anywhere from bright red and spicy with plenty of Korean chile powder to over-the-top-brush-your-teeth-immediately garlicky. Personally, I love them all and eat plenty of kimchi straight out of the jar, standing in front of an open fridge.

So, when I came upon this recipe for Quick Kimchi in Quick and Easy Korean Cookings by Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee, I knew there'd be some homemade kimchi in my future. This wasn't my first homemade kimchi experiment—I'd tried David Chang's recipe from The Momofuku Cookbook before, which calls for little preserved shrimp giving it a fantastic fishiness that might turn some people off.

Lee's version is much less intense, both in time and flavor. Instead of shrimp she subs in much milder fish sauce, which adds an oceanic element without an overpowering stinkiness. The recipe begins with soaking cabbage and daikon in a salt water mixture overnight to leech out moisture.

The next day the vegetables are mixed with a red paste of chile powder, garlic, ginger, and fish sauce, and tossed with scallions. The fresh kimchi is loaded into jars and left to sit at room temperature for two to three days or more depending on just how ferment-y you like your kimchi. It's a much quicker turnaround than most at-home kimchi recipes with much milder flavors, almost like a kimchi for beginners. It will keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge, but if you like kimchi enough to make your own, chances are it's not going to last that long.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Quick and Easy Korean Cooking to give away this week.

Adapted from Quick and Easy Korean Cookings by Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee. Copyright © 2009. Published by Clarkson Potter. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.

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