Oh Kimchi, where have you been all my life??! Living in the Midwest doesn’t allow for many ‘international’ choices on the food front; and even though I spent most of my early years on the West Coast, I have to admit Kimchi was no where on my radar – the pungent odor can be off-putting and anything fermented (outside of sauerkraut) seemed scary. Needless-to-say, when The Kimchi Cookbook arrived in my mailbox, I was a teensy bit skeptical as well as major apprehensive.
We were in the midst of the holiday rush and since this is an area of uncharted territory, I wanted to peruse the recipes and prepare a few to get the hang of what DIYers and Korean food lovers already know – Kimchi is not at all complicated to make and tastes incredible.
What I didn’t realize is that Kimchi can be much more than fermented cabbage and is quite versatile in how it’s used; the balance of flavors vary from mild to spicy – a simple potato gratin or pan of roasted brussels sprouts become new and fresh with the addition of either traditional or a modern kimchi. And I also didn’t realize that kimchi is seasonal – more heat during the dreary winter months, less heat during summer and highlight the freshness of available produce that can be ready in a matter of minutes. Kimchi Fried Rice, Kimchi Risotto, Kimchi Oven-Baked Baby Back Ribs – even the childhood favorite, Grilled Cheese, is elevated with the addition of a napa cabbage kimchi.
Lauryn Chun, founder of Mother-In-Law’s Kimchi, has written a beautiful book based on a recipe from her mother’s beloved restaurant, Jang Mo Jip. The 60 recipes are relatively easy and even though Korean chili flakes aren’t readily available in my area, I was able to order online and receive in a few short days. You’ll find step-by-step instructions with suggestions for substitutions that work well together as well as background stories as to why a recipe was developed or how Lauryn was inspired.
I try to avoid using the word ‘amazing’ when referring to a recipe . . . but damn, these were uh-MAY-zing – next time it’s a double-batch for me and The Professor. And I’ll readily admit to a new found fascination – The Kimchi Cookbook is one I’ll have out most of the year . . . Kimchi is officially off my ‘fear’ list.
Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of The Kimchi Cookbook free of charge; however, all reviews and opinions are strictly my own.
ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH CIPOLLINI ONION KIMCHI
The Kimchi Cookbook, Lauryn Chun with Olga Massov
Makes 2-4 servings
NOTE: The Cipollini Onion Kimchi needs to be made at least 1 day ahead so plan accordingly; and don’t be put off by the few extra steps required for the separate components – they come together quickly and are quite easy!
- 1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise
- 1 medium firm apple (I used Gala), peeled, cored and diced
- 1 cup Cipollini Onion Kimchi (recipe follows)
- 3 Tablespoons extra-virgin-olive oil
- kosher salt
- 3 Tablespoons pine nuts
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees with rack positioned in the middle of the oven
- In a large bowl toss the brussels sprouts, apple and kimchi with the oil; seasons with salt
- Spread the mixture on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes; halfway through roasting time, add the pine nuts and stir to ensure even browning
- Serve warm
FOR THE CIPOLLINI ONION KIMCHI: MAKE 1 TO 2 DAYS AHEAD
Makes 2 cups
FOR THE BRINE:
- 12 ounces cipollini onions, trimmed, peeled and quartered (about 14 onions)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
FOR THE SEASONING PASTE:
- 2 Tablespoons Korean chile pepper flakes
- 2 Tablespoons anchovy sauce or Mushroom Broth
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 3 Tablespoons coarsely shredded carrot
- 1 Tablespoon Sweet Rice-Flour Porridge (recipe follows)
- In a medium bowl, toss the onions with the salt and set aside for 30 minutes; rinse and drain the onions
- To make the seasoning paste, in a large bowl, combine the chile pepper flakes, anchovy sauce, sugar and carrot; set aside the spice paste for 10 minutes to let the flavors combine before stirring in the porridge
- Add the onions to the spice paste and toss until well combined
- Transfer the onions to a glass pint jar with a tight-fitting lid and let the onions ferment, covered at room temperature for 1 to 2 days; refrigerate and consume within 2 weeks
FOR THE SWEET RICE-FLOUR PORRIDGE:
Makes about 1 cup
- 1 cup cold water
- 2 Tablespoons sweet rice flour
- Prepare an ice bath
- In a small saucepan, bring ¾ cup of the water to boil; meanwhile, dissolve the flour in the remaining 1/3 cup of cold water.
- Whisk the flour mixture into the boiling water and stir for 15-30 seconds until the mixture thickens and resembles white glue
- Remove from heat and set in the ice bath to cool
- When cool, remove from the ice bath and allow to come to room temperature, stirring 5 – 10 minutes
- If making ahead, transfer the mixture to a container and refrigerate until needed
- The porridge will keep for up to 3 days, refrigerated