Baek(white)Kimchi

20180613_145508Baek (white) Kimchi with no chillies.

This Kimchi is stuffed with a variety of vegetables, fruit, pine nuts, oysters and rock ear mushrooms.

 

The original Kimchis were Baek Kimchi from over a 1,000 years ago but did not use the Chinese leaf cabbage. In those times, Kimchi was radish dipped in fermented soya bean paste or salted in brine.

When it comes to Baek Kimchi, we need to wait until it ferments. This depends on temperature but usually takes 2 to 7 days.

When the Kimchi starts to ferment, it will smell a little bit sour and will bubble. The brine is a great sauce for cold noodles, or drunk as an appetizer before eating a main meal. My father was a very picky eater so if we had this Baek Kimchi in the house then he always drank a little bit of the brine before his meal and ate the crispy Baek Kimchi afterwards.

 

Naengmyeon

Naengmyeon
Naengmyeon means literary in Korean, cold noodles. There are two kinds, one is Bibim-Naengmyeon which is mixed with spicy sauce with a little bit of beef or vegetable broth. Another one is Mul-Naengmyeon, served in a chilled broth made from beef or radish water kimchi.
Naengmyeon used to eat by only nobles, especially among scholars in seventeen centuries. It was used to eat only in winter from late seventeen centuries but when technology was introduced how to store ice in summer, Naengmyeon became the most recognised a summer dish. It is too fresh and cool to resist in hot summer weather in Korea

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Naengmyeon is famous for two representative cities. one is Pyongyang and another is Hamheun, these two cities are located in North Korea.
After the Korean war in 1953, many North Koreans who were flown to South Korea to live, they felt nostalgia for their food so some people started to open only Naengmyeon restaurants to share their feeling about left family in North Korea. But Naengmyeon is significant dishes and most eaten popular among South Koreans.
Pyongyang Naengmyeon is buckwheat mixed with flour, less chewy so more likely used eat as Mul Naengmyeon(beef or radish kimchi broth ) whereas Hamheun Naengmyeon is made from potatoes flour so a lot chewy used to Bibim Naengmyeon( mixed with chilli sauce).
Why do we eat after the meat meal? In old days, there was called a Kisaeng house which is highly trained artist women in Joseon dynasty (1392-1897) who entertained men with music, conversation and poetry in much same ways as Japanese geisha.
Often high class scholars went to take a break from their studying and after meal (normal meat and alcohol) were served from the Kisaeng house as hangover cure.
We still eat this noodle after the meat meal and still expensive compare to other cold noodles.

 

Kohlrabi Kimchi

Looking for an excellent alternative for Korean radish Kimchi (Ggakdugi)?

Then why not using Kohlrabi?

Ggakdugi is a type of Kimchi made from Korean radish. Koreans use this radish to make three different types of Kimchi. One is radish winter Kimchi in a broth called Dongchimi, the second is a mixed Kimchi called Seogbagji and the third is diced radish kimchi simply called Ggakdugi.

In times past, Korean radish was the vegetable that would be available all year-round, with the peak seasons being winter and spring. For this reason, Dongchimi was normally made in winter.

Korean radish is one of many Kimchi’s key ingredients but it is also used independently make its own specific Kimchi. This was the working-class side dish (Banchan) which was very affordable. The Korean radish stems and leaves are dried out during winter and then boiled when needed for use in the rest of seasons.

Ggakdugi wasn’t popular until 1850 which was the end of the Joseon Dynasty of period, but one of the princesses of the royal family introduced this dish in her cookery book. It was said that Ggakdugi helps our digestion and it is great for detoxing. This has actually been proved by modern science.

http://www.chatelaine.com/health/diet/radish-recipe-another-nutritious-veggie-great-for-detoxing-the-liver/

The Korean aristocracy didn’t eat this radish kimchi until around 1900 but the great flavour and its health benefits had been accepted. So, this dish became one of among the few dishes that were popular the dining tables of the lower classes as well as the upper classes.

There are a number of popular uses of Ggakdugi:

  • Chungmu Kimbap or simply yubu chobap
  • With SulLungTang, this is a milky broth made from ox bone and brisket meat
  • With Koran instant noodles but typically not the spicy varieties
  • As a vegan Kimchi tending not to use fish sauce popular in the Seoul area

The Korean radish is large, very firm vegetable. The top stem, the greenish part is, crunchy and crisp with a sweet, nutty taste. The bottom stem, the whitish part, is peppery and dry, not juicy. Many Koreans only eat or use the top stem for cooking and white lower part for making stock.

Mooli can substitute for Korean radish, as can daikon or UK radish but these are all watery, more mild flavoured and less crunchy than the real thing.

I’ve found that the best replacement is Kohlrabi. It is crunchy, less watery and sweet it has exactly the best characteristic qualities of Korean radish (especially like the top stem, green part). I actually really love it. It is expensive but May is the Kohlrabi harvesting season and prices should be lower.

I often buy it from the online-supermarket (Ocado) at £ 2.99 for 350g but at the Cambridge market I actually bought Kohlrabi yesterday for only £1.50. At the Cambridge Sunday market (Simon’s local vegetable stall) I expect that the price will be even cheaper. They expect to have Kohlrabi from the end of May.

I believe using local produce is the best way of getting great nutrition and freshness. No matter how good your cooking skills, if you don’t have good quality ingredients then, it is more likely that your food will fail to be tasty. I’d advise that you use Kohlrabi, even when making Korean Ggakdugi for your first time.

 

Temple Kimbap

Many years ago, I had a chance to learn about temple food for 2 months from a famous monk-chef in Korea. One of his teachings was what we eat and when we eat is very important.

In the morning, eat light food like porridge, for lunch have solid food, a full meal but asmall amount. For dinner in the evening eat just fruits. Eat seasonal food when you can because they are best fresh and most nutritious. Eat a little as you can and don’t eat meat.

Temple food is naturally healthy and vegetarian. It has become increasingly popular in Korea because people are concerned about their wellbeing.

Unfortunately, monks and nuns do not use onions, garlic, chives, spring onions or leeks, the most common five pungent, spicy vegetables. In Korea we call these five forbidden vegetables “o-shin-chae”. Their intense scent and spiciness may distract monks during meditation. Until recently, I always tried to avoid eating “o-shin-chae”.  I don’t why but I didn’t like their smells.

In keeping with the Buddhist principle of harmony with nature ,  Tofu is a vital source of protein for monks as well as one of the main ingredients in temple food. Seaweed has been a part of Korean diet for centuries as well as being a seasoning in temple food.

 

 

Kimchi guk(soup or stew)

 

In Korea if there is No Kimchi, then there is No meal!

For breakfast, lunch and dinner all year round it is on your dining table.

This means that a Kimchi refrigerator is a key appliance in Korean homes. I haven’t yet seen someone who hasn’t got one in their house.

Kimchi is the staple food in Korean cuisine.

It is made of fermented vegetables with a variety of different spices.

As Kimchi gets older, fermentation creates the different levels of flavour; at the beginning for the first 2-3 days, it is salty and spicy but as time goes on it produces a vinegary sharpness and the spiciness becomes milder and even sweet. Therefore, old Kimchi is the best ingredient for use in Korean stews, soups, stir fry, pancakes and spring rolls.

The most common ingredient of Kimchi is white Korean cabbage (Baechu) 배추. In the UK Chinese cabbage (Chinese leaves) are less firm, more watery and lighter (around 500-600 g) in comparison to the denser Korean cabbage (weighing around 3 kgs.)

Koreans often add fish sauce, fresh fish or oysters as ingredients of Kimchi depending on the region. This has its pros and cons. For example, Seoul people tend to make Kimchi without any fish sauce so when their Kimchi starts to ferment, the taste is very sour and it can only be kept for a short period. Whereas using fish sauce acts as a preservative and ensures the classic taste.

If you do not need to keep your Kimchi for more than few weeks then I would recommend that do not use any fish sauce.

If you are a Vegan then Kimchi will be a key starting place for exploring for other Korean dishes.

There are about 100 different varieties of Kimchi but typically people will keep the kimchi around 6-10 different Kimchi in their Kimchi refrigerator.

There is no doubt that Baechu Kimchi배추김치 has a deeper flavour and a better texture and you can keep it much longer.

Let me introduce some different Kimchi.

  • Baechu Kimchi (배추김치): “Whole Cabbage Kimchi” generally when we simply say kimchi we mean this type.
  • Dongchimi (Radish Water Kimchi): “Winter Kimchi”, big Korean white radish
  • Baek (White) Kimchi: without chillies,
  • Ggakdugi Kimchi (깍두기): “Chopped Radish Cubes”, Korean white radish but I always make it with Kohlrabi that actually approximates to the best quality Korean white radish.
  • Yeolmumul Kimchi (열무물김치): “Green Water Kimchi”, Tokyo turnips in UK
  • Nabak Kimchi (나박김치): “Red Water Kimchi”, Korean white radish
  • Chonggak Kimchi (총각김치): “Whole Radish Kimchi or Ponytail Kimchi”, a little bigger than Tokyo turnips in UK
  • Gat Kimchi: “Mustard Leaf Kimchi”, similar to Tat Soi with horseradish taste. I have made with Tat Soi. It is very similar to Gat Kimchi and this is from the southern provinces where I went to learn regional Kimchi. This is good with pork BBQ.
  • Mak Kimchi (막김치): “Summer Kimchi”
  • Oi Sobagi (오이김치): “Cucumber Kimchi”, this keeps only a few days.
  • Kkaennip Kimchi (깻잎): ”Perilla Leaf Kimchi”, my best favourite. It is the best with BBQ
  • Spring onion Kimchi

 

Kong-namul (soybean sprouts)

Kong means bean in Korean, Namul means edible plants.

Banchan (side dishes) are a big part of the Korean home kitchen. Kong-namul is one of the most popular side dishes and also one of the classic vegetable ingredients of Bibim-bab. It seems that Koreans started to eat this around 500 years ago.

Beansprouts are different to Kong-namul. Beansprouts are from the Mung bean. Kong-namul are sprouts of the Soy bean. We boil them and drain off the excess water then add seasoning.

Kong-namul muchim is an everyday banchan because it is inexpensive. The texture is crunchy and nutty and flavour of sesame oil. It is always served as one of the banchan in Korean BBQ restaurants.

 

In Cambridge, we have only one Korean supermarket called Seoul Plaza. In the past they used to stock a lot of fresh Korean ingredients but now there are less Korean and more from other nations. Kong-namul is therefore harder to find, so I thought I would try to grow it myself. Unfortunately, after two attempts I have been unsuccessful but I am still trying because it is worth it.

There are two versions of this Banchan, one is seasoned with a soy sauce called Guk-ganjang the other is additionally seasoned with chilli.

Another use of Kong-namul is as soup with rice. We call this Kong-namul guk (soup) bab (rice) and it is famous as a hangover cure. There are many restaurants that specialise only in this “hangover stew”.

Another famous recipe is called Kong-namul-bab which is a kind of very delicious Bibim-bab but seasoned with only soy sauce.

Kong-namul is a very good combination with Kimchi either in a soup or stir fry. I love this and I can’t stop eating it. My sisters wonder how I eat these all the time for weeks on end!

Buchu-jeon

Garlic chive savoury pancake. See all the ingredients here you can use less or more.

See how I made kimchi pancakes here.

I am back!

Hello,

I am back. It has been a long time since I last updated my blog.

My new adventure just has started to study about anthropology of Korean food as well as teaching Korean cookery in Cambridge beginning 25th of May https://cambridgecookery.com/

I will be updating some of my previous blog posts and I will add more about Korean food and the stories behind it.

The UK has adopted Indian curry as a national dish. We know that the Portuguese discovered India but it was Britain that brought spice to the World.

So what about Korean Gochu (chilli)?

IMG_0546

It is commonly thought that the Portuguese introduced this red chilli to Korea. However, Koreans have been planting and harvesting Gochu for the last 1,500 years. So now the English want to taste Korean dishes that use a lot of fermented chilli pastes and chilli powder.

My first cookery class will be a Korean Barbeque menu

So-galbi-gui-grilled short beef ribs marinated with fresh pear and soju

Buchu-jeon– little garlic chives savoury pancake and its sticky, infused soy sauce/vegetarian

Banchan-side dishes

  1. Kong-namul – crispy soy bean sprouts with natural soy sauce  and sesame oil / Bibim bab side dish/vegetarian
  2. Mu-saengchae-spicy mooli salad / Bibim bab side dish/vegetarian
  3. Kimchi/Bibim bab/vegetarian

Naeng-myeon– chilled summer bibim noodles with pear, pickled cucumber, mooli and boiled egg (optional)/ vegetarian