Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Cooking Around the World: Korea

While North and South Korea are listed separately in our Cooking Around the World Adventure list, I did some reading and decided that I would make only one Korean meal. It seems that the differences in Korean cuisine are not so much aligned via north and south, but more between the eight distinct provinces.

I decided to make bibimbap with kimchi. With the plethora of restaurants in Berkeley, whenever my parents came to visit me during college, we ate at a hole-in-the-wall Korean restaurant just off of Telegraph Ave. And each time, my dad ordered bibimbap. Until tonight, I had never made it.

Bibimbap means 'mixed up rice' and  is served as a bowl of warm white rice topped with namul (sautéed and seasoned vegetables) and gochujang (chili pepper paste). A raw or fried egg and sliced meat - usually beef - are common additions. Since recipes I found were not very specific with what vegetables - though I seem to remember carrots, bean sprouts, and spinach - I went with what I had: cabbage, kale, carrots, and shitake mushrooms. I fried an egg and topped it with sliced of beef and seaweed. Since I didn't have any chili pepper paste left, I used some homemade kimchi that I made last week with Napa cabbage from my High Ground Organics CSA...with that chili pepper paste.

1/2 C Hawaiian red alaea sea salt
enough warm water to submerge all the cabbage
1-1/2 heads cabbage
1 T minced garlic
1/2 C Korean chili paste
1/2 C white balsamic vinegar
3 T honey

In a very large mixing bowl dissolve the salt in warm water. Submerge the cabbage into the salt water and weigh it down with a plate, so it stays submerged. Let cabbage soak and soften in the brine for 2 hours.

A few minutes before the cabbage finishes soaking, combine the minced garlic, Korean chili paste, vinegar, and honey in a large bowl. Stir well to combine. Once the cabbage has finished soaking, drain, rinse it and squeeze it gently to remove excess liquid.

Use your hands (or tongs instead if you have any open cuts as the chilies and garlic can sting) to thoroughly incorporate the chili mixture with the cabbage.

Pack the kimchi into a clean jar - or a few jars - and screw the lid on tightly. Keep in a cool, dry place, out of direct sunlight (my pantry worked well for this) for 3-4 days. After 3 days, open the jar and look for tiny bubbles. If it’s begun to bubble, it’s ready to serve or to be refrigerated. If it hasn’t yet begun to bubble, leave it for another day. After 4 days, you should notice a few tiny bubbles throughout the jar and can either serve your kimchi or put it in the refrigerator. The kimchi will continue to ferment in your refrigerator and should be consumed within a month.

This Global Table Ambassador is signing off for now. We're off to Kosovo next with our tabletop travel.

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE korean food and really should make it more! bibimbap is an especial favorite. I love all of the various components of it!


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