It might be a little early in the AM to be talking about fermented cabbage, but I'm doing it anyway.
We have two fridges. The one in the house holds the normal, everyday stuff. The one in the garage holds the booze, the fizzy water, and second gallon of milk. It also holds the kimchi, Japanese pickles aka takuan, and other stinky Asian delights. Basically, if it's pickled, brined, or fermented, it's in the back fridge. Hold your nose when you help yourself to a beer.
If I lived in Korea, I'm sure I would have a dedicated (golf leaf adorned?) kimchi fridge, but as it stands, our $50 Craigslist used job is up to the task. The thing about kimchi is, no matter how tightly you seal the jar, no matter how much you double bag it (twice), you can still smell it. And it smells like something died.
This ahem tests the limits of what my dear husband will tolerate.
Kimchi, because its fermented, changes as it gets older. Some flavors mellow, some get stronger. As the kimchi gets more aged, Koreans tend to do different things with it, usually cooking it instead of eating it as a side dish.
My mom usually a makes a cooked pork and kimchi "stir-fry." Since I had about 2 cups of kimchi stankin' up the joint, I decided to make a spicy kimchi and pork stew called Kimchi Chigae (chee-geh). If you like spicy things, and aren't afraid of strong flavors, you might like this, too. This and a dish of steamed rice makes a complete meal. Oh, and water. Plenty of water!
This is adapted from my favorite (because it's so easy to follow) Korean cookbook Eating Korean by Cecilia Lee.
- 3/4 pound of pork, sliced for stir-fry (beef is fine, too, if you prefer it)
- 2 tbsps sesame oil
- 1 tbsp Korean chili pepper paste (you can omit this if you can't find it)
- 4 cloves of garlic sliced
- 1/2 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 2-3 cups of sliced kimchi + any juices (better if it's been sitting around for a couple of weeks)
- 6 cups of water, pork, or chicken stock
- 1 large brick of water packed tofu, cut into cubes
- 3 green onions cut into 1 inch sections
I don't have the traditional stoneware pot that this is cooked and served in so I just use a soup pot.
Place the pork, sesame oil, chili pepper paste, garlic, and onion in a pot and cook over medium heat until pork is cooked through. Add kimchi and stir, then add in the water or stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and add tofu. Cook for just a few minutes more until tofu is heated all the way through. Add green onions to the pot. Serve at once. Makes 6-8 servings.