By Libbie Summers
Photography by Chia Chong
Recipe by Ho Shim Shaw
Aside from standing in the kitchen with my Japanese aunt, Setsuko, as she taught me how to fried rice, this day will be one of the best culinary days of my life.
Ho Shim Shaw (grandmother/Umma to my former assistant Anna) took us into her home to show us her method for making kimchi and then insisted we stay for the most perfect lunch set on a humble table on the porch of her home. It was a magical day and I again was reminded of how genuine hospitality crosses all language barriers.
Yield: recipe fills a one gallon jar
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Inactive Time: 2 days 8 hours
What you need:
2 heads of Nappa cabbage, cleaned and sliced in half lengthwise
1 ½ cups coarse sea salt, divided
6 cups of cold water
1 large Korean radish (called mu*) about 2 pounds
6 green onions
For Hot pepper mixture:
1/3 cup white onion, pureed
1 1/2 Cup Korean pepper flakes (gochugaru*)
2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 cup ground garlic
1/2 cup salted shrimp (sae-wu jut*)
1 cup anchovy extract (myulchi-aek jut*)
1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
2 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 gallon sterilized glass jar or container with a tight fitting lid
*sold in Korean/Asian markets
What to do:
STEP ONE : In an extra large mixing bowl dissolve 1 cup coarse sea salt into 6 cups of cold water and place cabbage halves in to soak.
STEP TWO: Sprinkle the remaining salt between the layers of the cabbage.
STEP THREE : Let cabbages sit in the salt water for about 6-7 hours (overnight).
STEP FOUR : Rinse cabbage in cold water to rinse off all salt and squeeze to drain. Allow to dry in the large bowl or colander.
STEP FIVE : Using a sharp knife, cut the radishes and green onions in to fine julienned pieces (Japanese mandolin can be used) and place in a medium size mixing bowl.
STEP SIX : Assemble the ingredients for the red pepper mixture.
STEP SEVEN : Add the mixture to the radishes and green onions and mix well (Umma says your hands are your best tool from here on out).
STEP EIGHT : Stuff the red pepper mixture in between the layers of the cabbage.
STEP NINE : Squeeze the cabbage together to make it narrow enough to stuff into a one gallon size sterilized jar. If the jar opening is too small, cut the halved cabbage into quarters.
STEP TEN : Cover and allow the kimchi to sit for one or two days at room-temperature then refrigerate. Your kimchi is actually ready to eat at this point, but allowing it to sit at room-temperature starts the fermentation process. Umma likes to eat her kimchi after only two days of fermentation. It’s a matter of personal taste.