Kimchi Time

· Photos, Sangha News

Something fermented this way comes.

Recently, sangha member Achong Chen visited the Monastery kitchen to share some of her passion for kimchi. Normally associated with Korean cuisine, kimchi is also very popular in Japan, Taiwan (Achong’s home turf), and increasingly in the US. While there are many different recipes, Achong had us make a fairly standard kimchi using daikon radish, carrot, napa cabbage, ginger, garlic, scallions and the salt and chili that give all kimchis their distinctive, fermented punch.

Additionally, following a method that Achong has been experimenting with at home, we substituted pine nuts for the more traditional fish sauce that is often used in kimchi recipes. This kept our version vegetarian while still providing a protein-rich and umami flavored experience.

Achong shares her kimchi wisdom. Weighing each item. Chopping, chopping and more chopping. Adding the secret ingredient (Korean chili mix). Protective handgear. A big batch requires a big pot. Co-cook Laura Cohen looks on as Achong blends everything together by hand. The kimchi needs to be agitated and pressed a bit while the salt and chili are incorporated. Each sterilized jar holds 2.5 gallons. Kimchi goes well with any dish that could use a spicy kick, but it's best when added to a rice bowl like this tofu, carrot and kale lunch.
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Kimchi goes well with any dish that could use a spicy kick, but it's best when added to a rice bowl like this tofu, carrot and kale lunch.

Achong and her husband Steve Miron also donated special 2.5 gallon glass jars so that the Monastery can continue to make large batches. After cutting all the required vegetables and sprinkling in a mix of dried chili peppers, coarse celtic salt was added and incorporated using hands outfitted with gloves to keep out any extra bacteria and protect our skin from those hot chilis! Then the mixture was added to the jars and stored in a cool, dark environment (one of the cabinets) for several days.

We were delighted to find that our kimchi developed a rich, pungent, and delicious taste after even one day of fermenting, though it grew stronger and more flavorful in the week that followed.

To celebrate the occasion, co-cook Laura Cohen—herself a fermentation fanatic—orchestrated a bibimbap lunch that tasted thoroughly authentic given our latest condiment.

So, what’s next? Monastic Yukon promises that all the vegetable ingredients needed to make this kimchi will be growing in the Monastery’s garden this summer. Will there be bottled batches of the stuff making their appearance on Monastery Store shelves come Fall? Stay tuned to find out.

 

 

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