Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Vegetarian Kimchee

Kimchee is a spicy, pickled cabbage relish. One of my friends refers to it as “Korean sauerkraut.” For years I thought this was totally vegetarian. The recipe I used to make it doesn't have any meat products in it at all. Imagine my surprise when I learned that traditional kimchee has fish sauce, make it unsuitable for a strictly vegetarian diet.

I first learned about my culinary faux pas from the incredibly talented Micheal Natkin. His vegetarian food blog, Herbivoracious, is packed with amazing ideas and recipes and I highly recommend giving it a visit. Commenting on a blog post where he uses kimchee, and I revealed my ignorance, he invited me to post my recipe for vegetarian kimchee. Well, Micheal, it's been nearly a year since you asked me, but I'm finely getting around to sharing it.

I find this recipe to make a brighter, crisper kimchee than those that are commercially available. Honestly, I like i

Just to let you know, I stole this recipe from Jeff Smith. His TV show, The Frugal Gourmet, and his many wonderful cookbooks, inspired me to get into the kitchen. I've modified it slightly so that it's easier to make.

Equipment Needed
Kitchen knife
Cutting boardGrater
Very large mixing bowlLarge crock or pottery casserole with lid

2 pounds Napa cabbage (about one good-sized head)
1/4 cup kosher salt
3 green onions, finely chopped
1 one medium carrot, grated
3 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons red pepper flakes, adjusting for taste
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

Remove the limp outer leaves from the cabbage. Quarter the cabbage lengthwise and then cut across each quarter into 1 1/2 inch wide pieces. Place the cabbage in a very large mixing bowl and toss with the kosher salt until evenly coated. Cover with a dish towel and let stand for 30 minutes. Toss the salted cabbage 2 or 3 times while it stands.

In the meantime, chop, grate and mince the other ingredients.

Once the time is up, rinse the cabbage thoroughly with cold water and drain. Toss with the remaining ingredients and pack into a large crock or food safe pottery. Add just enough water to cover the cabbage, about 1 cup. If you can, weight it all down with a plate to keep it well packed. Cover the mixture and allow it to sit on the cupboard or pantry for 2 days.

Transfer to glass jars and store in the refrigerator. Makes about 1 quart.

Kimchee can be served as a relish with any Korean entree or used in cooking soups or noodle dishes as desired. I like snacking on it with rice crackers and have even used it in peanut butter sandwiches.

NOTE: This recipe can easily be doubled or even tripled. I've never tried to hot-pack can my kimchee (it doesn't last that long), but I suspect it could be canned for food storage quite easily.

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