Kimchi and Kimchi Pancakes

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My recent favorite is Korean food. I love the fact that it comes with so many side dishes. For the longest time I had a perception that Korean cuisine was all very spicy dishes prepared with meat and seafood. I had tried eating at a Korean restaurant when I lived in Orlando, but since I probably didn’t know what to order – I landed up disliking the food.  But now as I explore this cuisine more and more I realize that there are not only a lot of options for vegetarians but the food is also very delicious. Some of my favorite dishes from this cuisine are bibimbap (a rice preparation with various veggies cooked in a clay pot), japchae (potato starch noodles with veggies), jajangmyeon (Korean black bean sauce noodles), gajinamul (a side dish prepared with steamed eggplants) and of course kimchi of various kinds.

Kimchi can be made with any vegetable and is basically like a pickle. In today’s recipe I have featured a more common kimchi – made with napa cabbage. You will have to prepare for it a bit in advance as you need to give time for fermentation/pickling process after you actually make the kimchi. After you make it, you leave it on your counter top in a container for 36 hours. In this time the kimchi sort of marinades, gets all sour & pickle-ly and releases a lot of liquid. That said, do remember to put it in the fridge after the initial 36 hours of pickling are over, or else the kimchi will get all slimy and will start to rot. If you have an earthenware then use that for fermenting the kimchi, but if you don’t then a plastic container with a lid or a mason jar will work fine as well.

Once you have this kimchi, you can store it in the fridge and can make many things out of it like soups & stews, fried rice, use it as a stuffing in dumplings and stir fry etc. Another really yummy dish you can make out of kimchi is pancakes. It has a pretty orange color from the kimchi and you need a few ingredients apart from the kimchi to make it. This savory version of pancake is easy and quick to make. I like eating it for breakfast with a sweet chili sauce.

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For Kimchi

Serving 1 big batch

Ingredients

2 heads of napa cabbage

2 green onions, finely chopped

1 carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks

1 onion, roughly diced

2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

2 tsp minced ginger

1 cup water

1 tsp all purpose flour

4 tsp brown sugar

1/4 cup ground red chili

2 tsp sesame seed oil

2 tbsp salt + more for seasoning

  1.  Slit the cabbage in half lengthwise or quarter them if too large and wash under cold water thoroughly.
  2. Salt the cabbage by taking some in your hand and rubbing it between the leaves and the core. Use salt generously.
  3. Keep the salted cabbage aside in a large bowl for 2 hours moving them around every 30 minutes.
  4. After two hours the cabbage will  become pliable by releasing a lot of liquid. Drain the liquid and wash the cabbage thoroughly under cold water again. Pat dry and keep aside.
  5. In a saucepan add water, flour and sugar. Heat on medium low for about 5 to 8 minutes till you get a thick-ish, sauce like consistency. Remove from heat, keep aside and let cool.
  6. In a blender add onion,  garlic and ginger and whiz to form a smooth paste. Try adding as less water as possible while blending.
  7. Mix the onion puree with the water and flour mixture.
  8. Add ground chili and sesame seed oil to the mixture and stir well to form a smooth paste.
  9. Mix in the carrots and onions.
  10. Using your hands rub the cabbage leaves and core with the kimchi paste and stuff the paste between the leaves. Wrap the cabbage around itself into a small packet, and put in a jar. Repeat with other cabbage leaves.
  11. Let the kimchi ferment on your counter top for 36 hours and then place it in the refrigerator. After the fermentation, kimchi will become sour and ready to eat.

For Kimchi Pancakes

Ingredients

2 cups flour

1/2 cup kimchi juice

3/4 cup chopped kimchi

1 green onion, finely chopped

water as needed

salt

vegetable oil for making pancakes

  1. In a large bowl mix together flour and salt and mix roughly.
  2. Add kimchi, kimchi juice and green onions and mix while adding little water (if needed) to form a pancake like batter.
  3. Heat a tsp of oil on a non stick pan or a griddle and pour about a ladle-full of batter. Spread slightly to form a 1/4 inch thick pancake. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side pressing lightly in between.
  4. Serve warm with sweet chili sauce.