It has been at least two years since I’ve made fermented kimchi. This morning, while assessing how to clean out the produce drawers in my refrigerator, kimchi popped into mind.
“Oh geez,” my mind immediately responded. “That’s way too much work. Let’s just chop up this Chinese cabbage and do a stir-fry. If you really want Korean flavor, put some Gochu jang sauce on it.”
“But I want kimchi!” Who knew taste buds could whine?
I used to make kimchi a few times a year. I love the taste but my husband doesn’t care for it and tends to object to the smell during the fermentation process. The lack of kimchi is not his fault, however, as I’m the one who has not been up to the challenge of making it.
The real problem, though, is that this perception is faulty. It is not difficult to make your own kimchi. No more chopping is required than is needed to make a tasty stir-fried dish with the same vegetables. It simply seems like more work because there is a one-week delay before the food can be eaten. In this world of instant gratification and fast, easy meals, waiting a whole week after doing all the prep work seems like forever.
Fermented kimchi is worth the wait. I have been making a quick cucumber Korean pickle recipe occasionally, and it’s good, but it does not have the depth or intensity of fermented kimchi. The quick pickles with their touch of cayenne heat are a great breakfast option with leftover rice, but I miss having spicy, pungent, sour cabbage kimchi over rice for lunch.
Well, patience is supposed to be a virtue so I’m makin’ kimchi! This morning, the carrot slices and chopped Chinese cabbage soaked in brine while I did other chores. After a few hours, the brine was drained and the softened vegetables tossed with onion, garlic, chile peppers, and ginger. This spicy mixture was packed down into a quart canning jar and weighted down with a baggie of drained brine. Hopefully I’ll remember to throw a bit of cheesecloth over it to keep out dust and pests.
Every day, I get to play with my kimchi while it ferments. I need to keep pushing the vegetables back down under the brine that they create from the residual salt left after draining the soaking brine. In a week or so, it should develop a nice sour flavor (and odor) from the fermentation. Then it gets capped and goes into the refrigerator for use. I can hardly wait.
I concede that I am still exhibiting some impatience. If I wanted more traditional kimchi, I would ferment it for up to a month in a cooler spot than my kitchen. Sorry. Can’t wait that long. It’s already been two years!