When most of us think of kimchi, we think of spicy fermented napa cabbage, swathed in a bright red, fishy sauce. Lauryn Chun's white wrapped kimchi from The Kimchi Cookbook is not that kimchi. Dating back to before the 16th century, this white kimchi was being made before chiles were introduced to Korea. As a result, the kimchi is mild and slightly sweet, yet still retains the signature crunch and funk from natural fermentation. Instead of simply tossing the mixture in a jar, however, Chun elevates the recipe by wrapping the kimchi mixture in brined napa cabbage leaves. These little packets (ssam) are fermented in their own small containers with a bit of mushroom broth. The result is a delicate and elegant condiment, perfect for dinner parties.
Why I picked this recipe: I'd never tried a kimchi with such a variety of ingredients (dates, persimmons, Asian pear, and mushrooms).
What worked: This recipe is a nice break from the spice one expects from kimchi. In addition, all of the vegetables make the wrap into more of a funky side dish than a condiment—a nice surprise.
What didn't: I had a hard time wrapping my kimchi once I got past the first few outer layers of cabbage. The more yellow leaves make for stiff wrappers, even after brining. Next time, I'll seek out a cabbage with copious leafy greens for ease.
Suggested tweaks: If you're not up for wrapping, you could ferment the mixture on its own with a bit of the mushroom broth added for moisture. Simply pack tightly into a 2-quart container with a lid and let ferment for two days.
Reprinted with permission from The Kimchi Cookbook: 60 Traditional and Modern Ways to Make and Eat Kimchi by Lauryn Chun, copyright 2012. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
- Yield:makes 4 to 6 bossam kimchi
- Active time: 1 hour
- Total time:3 days
- 4 cups Mushroom Broth, soaked mushrooms reserved
- 1 large head (3 to 3 1/2 pounds) napa cabbage, halved lengthwise
- 8 cups water
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- Seasoning Paste
- 1 Asian pear, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons peeled, finely grated fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons salted shrimp
- 2 tablespoons brine from salted shrimp
- 2 tablespoons anchovy sauce
- 6 ounces daikon radish (1/3 medium radish), julienned into 2-inch strips
- 2 medium fuyu persimmons, peeled and quartered
- 6 raw peeled chestnuts (or water chestnuts), thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
- 3 ounces Korean chives or 1/2 bunch European chives, cut into 2-inch pieces (about 1/4 cup)
- 20 flat-leaf parsley stems, cut into 2-inch pieces (about 1/3 cup)
- 10 Korean dates, pitted and thinly sliced, or 1/4 cup golden raisins
- 2 teaspoons chile pepper threads, for garnish (optional)
Prepare the mushroom broth in advance and allow it to come to room temperature.
Spread apart the cabbage leaves, remove the inner yellow leaves, and set the halves aside. In a large bowl, or two large bowls, depending on the cabbage size, mix the water with the salt. Brine the cabbage halves at room temperature for 4 hours, using a heavy plate as a weight to keep the cabbage fully submerged. Rinse the cabbage halves in a bowl of cold water, cut off the bottoms, separate the leaves, and dry them thoroughly. Cut the reserved inner leaves into 1 1/2- to 2-inch flat squares.
Thinly slice the reserved soaked mushrooms from the mushroom broth and set aside.
To make the seasoning paste, in a mini food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine the Asian pear, garlic, ginger, shrimp, shrimp brine, and anchovy sauce. Pulse until completely smooth and uniform.
In a large bowl, combine the seasoning paste with the radish, persimmons, chestnuts, pine nuts, chives, parsley, dates, and chile pepper threads. Add the inner cabbage leaves, and the reserved mushrooms, and mix well to combine.
Have ready a 2-quart container with a lid, or two 1-quart resealable bags. In a small soup bowl, arrange 4 to 5 outer leaves so that they resemble petals of a flower and overlap in the center. Trim and remove the bottom tough parts of the leaves (from the thick core) if they are not pliable. Place 1/2 cup of the stuffing mixture in the center of the cabbage leaves. Fold the overhanging cabbage leaves over the top, as if making a roll. Carefully transfer to the prepared container, then repeat with the remaining cabbage leaves and stuffing. Ladle the mushroom broth into the containers so that it covers the bottom one-third of the cabbage wraps. Cover, or if using bags, squeeze out the air and seal, and set aside for 1 day at room temperature. Refrigerate for at least 2 days and consume within 1 month.
To serve, partially unwrap the top leaf or cut into it to expose the stuffing.