A few weeks ago, I promised my nephew, Joseph, that Kevin and I would be on the sidelines at his next soccer game. That Friday night, I forgot to set my alarm and by the time I got up from bed, his game had already finished. When I spoke with my brother later in the week, he mentioned that Joseph kept looking over his shoulder for us. It broke my heart! So last Saturday, I made sure to wake up on time and watch my soccer star play. His team did so well! He ran over to us after the match with his arms wide open and gave us the biggest hug. “Gomo, we crushed them!” “You did bud, great job!” By the way, my nephews call me Gomo, it’s Korean for aunt (Dad’s sister). As we were walking back to our cars, my brother mentioned getting tickets to the Orioles playoff games. Go O’s! “I’d love to go!” I said. To that, my brother responded, “Sorry lis, I was talking to Kevin!”……. Oh!……….. I see how it is… Suddenly, flashbacks of my childhood popped into my head.
When I was a little girl, I used to follow my brother everywhere. Literally everywhere! He probably hated it, but I thought it was the coolest thing ever! You know, being one of the boys. There’s even a photo of him with his best mates and if you look all the way to the right of the frame (a good 10 feet from the group), you’ll find me there with the biggest cheesiest smile as if I was meant to be in the shot! (I WAS meant to be in it HAHA!!!) I get it, big brothers don’t want their chubby little sisters tagging along all the time. “That’s cool bro, I didn’t want to go anyway!” Now that we’re older, I’m pretty sure those days of me annoying my brother are long gone…right bro? Right? 😉
It actually worked out perfectly this way. I had already made plans with my mom to make Kimchi on game day and I like when Kevin and my bro hang out. So it was a win-win situation for all of us, or so I thought until my mom called me about how she was going to Hanoori Town for Hangari Noodle Company‘s soft opening on Friday. “Umm, mom…YOU SAID YOU’D TEACH ME HOW TO MAKE KIMCHI!” Man, no one wants to hang out with me! HAHA. This would’ve been the fifth time we rescheduled our Mommy-Daughter Kimchi Making date. Which is funny because when I’m making a fancy lunch or dinner, she never cancels or reschedules and always seems to be the first one to arrive. CALM DOWN LISBETH! There was no need to get upset. She called me and my sis-in-law to join her at the soft opening, not to cancel on me. After getting our fill of delicious noodles, we headed next door to HMart to shop for produce and ingredients to make Kimchi, and spent the bones of the day laughing, gossiping and learning not one but 3 types of kimchi. It was a great day, even though I didn’t get to see the O’s play! From all the MLB highlights I watched, it looked like Game 2 was unreal – the energy and excitement in the stadium must’ve been amazing! Only bad thing about the day…I’ve lost Kevin to another sport. 🙁
Kimchi is just one of those things you make by eye, feel and taste. This was only the second time I’ve made it, so I am still learning and shaping my technique. I will list the ingredients I used but as for measurements, we added bits and pieces here and there throughout the whole process, I couldn’t keep track. I definitely need to make it a few more times before I know myself how to make Kimchi without my mom fixing my mistakes. Kimchi is all about trial and error.
Korean Red Pepper Flakes
Sweet Rice Flour
We made kimchi with just one Napa Cabbage. My mom makes cuts into the root and pulls each section apart by hand. She says it makes the kimchi taste better. I don’t know if that’s true. Her kimchi is my favorite though, so it must be! 🙂 We made a salt brine and left the cabbage soaking for 4 hours.
Grate/Cut Korean Radish into thin strips.
In a food processor or blender, combine garlic, ginger and Korean radish and blitz.
Make a thin porridge with sweet rice flour, add in Korean red pepper flakes, fish sauce and the garlic/ginger/radish mixture. Many people skip the sweet rice porridge step. I think it tastes better with it. Also, the more red pepper flakes, the more red the Kimchi will be. I learned this only after I made Kimchi for the first time. You’d think your teacher (my mom is a great cook, but a poor teacher) would explain this very important part to you. I mean, I thought I had put in a lot of red pepper, but it wasn’t enough. Imagine my surprise and disappointment after waiting weeks to try my very first batch of homemade red Kimchi and it’s white!
Chop up some scallions and combine with the strips of radish.
Add some of the red pepper mixture into the bowl. This is your Kimchi filling.
This is the first of the three Kimchis. Gutjori Kimchi is almost like a cabbage salad with a Kimchi vinaigrette. To this Kimchi, I added a bit more sugar and a touch of white vinegar to create a vinaigrette dressing. Gutjori can be eaten immediately without fermenting and has a fresh taste and bite.
Then we have Mak Kimchi (roughly chopped into pieces) to the left and Pogi Kimchi (whole, intact cabbage leaves held together at the root) to the right. I left these containers in my garage overnight to speed up the fermentation process and will probably pop them in the fridge later today.
One Napa cabbage made about 4-5 quarts of Kimchi. We dropped off a quart to a friend last night and will be dropping off another to my brother’s family today. I love making foods that you can share. The Gutjori was delicious and I can’t wait to try the Mak and Pogi Kimchis!
Now, how do I get the Kimchi smell out of the house by 8pm? I have candles lit in every room right now. Kevin’s brother is flying in from Ireland for a quick layover visit. I don’t think the smell of kimchi upon his arrival is a very nice ‘Welcome to our Home Sweet (Funky smelling) Home.’
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