Even though her mother is from South Korea, Abigail Lunde didn’t really like kimchi growing up.
“My mom would put a little bowl of water next to my plate and wash it off for me,” says Abigail Lunde, now 28, of the fermented side dish that almost every Korean (well, 95 percent, according to a recent survey) eats at least once a day.
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Basic Homemade Kimchi
Austinite Hilah Johnson’s grandmother introduced her to kimchi, thanks to a Korean-American husband she had when Hilah was just a little girl. On her website, Hilah Cooking, Johnson recalls eating all kinds of interesting foods as a kid thanks to this grandmother, but it wasn’t until she had a roommate from Seoul that she learned how to make kimchi herself. Johnson’s technique calls for layering the salted vegetables in a jar, adding the garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes in the layers.
Although the Lundes mix all of their seasoning ingredients together and then rub that mixture into the halved cabbages, they are the first to acknowledge that every family has its own way of making kimchi; feel free to try whichever approach (and vegetables and additional ingredients like fish sauce) makes the most sense to you. If you are using chiles de arbol, however, keep in mind that they are hotter than gochugaru, so you’ll likely want to use less, unless you want the kimchi to be extra spicy.
1 small head napa cabbage, about 1 pound
1 daikon radish
1 bunch green onions (or garlic chives if you can find them)
4 to 6 Tbsp. pickling or Kosher salt
4 to 6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 (2-inch) piece ginger, peeled and minced
¼ cup ground red pepper flakes (either the traditional gochugaru or chiles de arbol)
Cut the cabbage in half cross-wise to separate the leafiest tops from the bottom. Cut the base from the cabbage bottom and separate all the leaves. Rinse everything in cool water and set in a colander to drain.
Peel the daikon and carrots and cut into julienne pieces, about ¼-inch by ¼-inch and 2 to 3 inches long. Cut the onions into 1-inch lengths
In a large bowl, toss the carrots and daikon with about a tablespoon of salt, or enough to coat them well.
Cut the stem-ends of the cabbage leaves into 1-inch-wide slices. Toss them with 2-3 tablespoons of salt, or enough to coat them well, and put them on top of the carrots.
Toss the leafy tops and the green onions with another tablespoon or so of salt until coated and lay them on top.
Weigh everything down with a plate and leave it on the counter for 4-6 hours.
Stir the vegetables well, and then start packing the mixture into a very large glass jar (or multiple smaller jars). As you place the vegetables in the jar, sprinkle a tablespoon or so of ground red pepper (or less if you want it less spicy) and minced garlic and ginger over each layer.
Repeat this layering, and as you go, use a wooden spoon to pack down the mixture. Once it’s all in, sprinkle another tablespoon or so of salt all over the top and put the lid on tight.
Leave it on the counter for 24 hours, giving it a shake whenever you walk by. After 24 hours it will have shrunk considerably and there will be almost enough liquid in the jar to cover the vegetables. Use your wooden spoon again to press the vegetables down into the liquid. Store in the refrigerator, and it will keep for several months.
— From Hilah Johnson of Hilah Cooking (hilahcooking.com/how-to-make-kimchi)
This basic recipe for a brunch-friendly kimchi frittata is meant to be adapted. You could use any type of kimchi, and the more sour and fermented, the better the flavor. Feel free to top with chopped greens, crushed nuts or kimchi juice instead of the suggested toppings.
1 tsp. sesame oil
½ cup chopped napa kimchi, divided
6 eggs, whisked
½ tsp. salt (or salt-brine shrimp)
Nori flakes and toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour sesame oil in a pie pan and swirl to coat the bottom. Place half the kimchi on top of the oil and pour the whisked eggs on top. Top with remaining kimchi.
Bake for 15 minutes, until the center of the frittata has set. Top with nori flakes and sesame seeds. Serves two to three.
— Adapted from a recipe by Abigail Lunde
Kimchi Fried Rice
This recipe couldn’t be simpler. It’s one of the best ways to use leftover rice — something I often seem to have a lot of — and its success is actually based on the dryness of day-old rice, which browns and crisps much better than fresh, soft rice. One of my most guilty, happiest pleasures is to make this late at night (usually after a lot of karaoke) and eat it with cheese (slices of American melted into it, if you must know).
— Marja Vongerichten, co-host of the PBS series “The Kimchi Chronicles”
2 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
1 ½ cups finely chopped onion
Pinch of coarse salt
2 cups sour kimchi, coarsely chopped, plus ¼ cup kimchi juice
4 cups day-old cooked rice, at room temperature
Heat the sesame oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and salt. Cook, stirring now and then, until beginning to soften and brown, about 3 minutes. Add the kimchi and cook for 1 minute to combine nicely with the onion. Add the rice and stir thoroughly to combine. Cook until the rice is warmed through and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Serve hot. Serves 4.
— From “The Kimchi Chronicles: Korean Cooking for an American Kitchen” (Rodale, $32.50) by Marja Vongerichten
Quick Cucumber and Chive Kimchi
8 Kirby, 10 Persian or 2 large Japanese or English cucumbers, unpeeled
2 Tbsp. kosher salt (preferably Diamond Crystal)
2 Tbsp. Korean chili pepper flakes (gochugaru)
2 tsp. anchovy sauce (optional)
1 ½ tsp. sugar
¼ cup Korean or regular chives, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 Tbsp. thinly sliced onion
Halve the cucumbers lengthwise, then cut them into 1/8-inch thin diagonal slices. In a medium bowl, mix the cucumbers with the salt until well combined. Set aside for 5 to 7 minutes until cucumbers sweat and glisten. They will lose some firmness but should still have a little crunch, as you don’t want them to be too soft.
Place the cucumbers in a colander and rinse, then pat them dry. In a medium bowl, combine the cucumbers with the chili pepper flakes, anchovy sauce, and sugar and allow to combine for 10 minutes. Add the chives and onion and toss to combine. Eat immediately, or refrigerate and consume within 2 to 3 days. Makes 5 cups.
— From “The Kimchi Cookbook: 60 Traditional and Modern Ways to Make and Eat Kimchi” (Ten Speed Press, $19.99) by Lauryn Chun and Olga Massov
Oh Kimchi is one of the featured presenters at an upcoming event at Travaasa Austin with Edible Austin. Jam & Jive is a two-day culinary event Jan. 25 and 26 at the resort just west of Austin. Proceeds from the event will go to the Sustainable Food Center.
On Saturday, local food makers including the Lundes, Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking author Kate Payne and Confituras owner Stephanie McClenny will host preservation workshops, followed by a dinner from chef Benjamin Baker, who will also lead a sourdough class earlier in the day. On Sunday, they’ll serve a brunch and host a tour on Travaasa’s on-site farm.
Day passes for Saturday cost $75, which include the dinner, and overnight packages start at $279. For more info and tickets, go to travaasa.com/jamandjive.
Tips on making kimchi at home
We’ve included a basic kimchi recipe with this story, but one of the keys to making it at home is adjusting the quantities of salt, red pepper and aromatics for a number of variables, including which vegetables you use in the first place (cabbage, carrots, daikon radish and green onion are the most common), the water content in those vegetables and your own preferences for heat, garlic, ginger and fish sauce.
Many kimchi makers add sugar to help feed the bacteria and balance the salt, but the Lundes make several sugar-free (and Paleo-friendly) varieties that are instead sweetened with pureed banana or Asian pear.
You can find kimchi-making supplies, including the red pepper flakes or paste (gochugaru) and salted shrimp (saeujeot), at area stores including Hana World market on Parmer Lane, Han Yang Market at North Lamar and Airport boulevards and the small Mom’s Taste grocery at 6613 Airport Blvd.
Duane Lunde notes that if you are using non-organic produce, it will take longer for the kimchi to ferment because the produce was likely grown with chemicals that specifically inhibit bacteria growth.