Sunday, May 04, 2008

I love the smell of fermented cabbage in the morning

Saturday morning, I headed to midtown's Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) for my first recreational cooking class- how to make kimchi! I've loved kimchi since childhood, but until recently was only really aware that a few types existed. Moving to New York and eating Korean food opened up my eyes to lots of other varieties of kimchi. In my class, I learned to make three kinds:

-Bae-choo kimchi (Napa cabbage kimchi in the peasant style) - this is the kind I've known since childhood, not pictured but found here

-Mool kimchi (Water kimchi in the royal style) pictured here:
-Oh0yi So-Bahk-Yi kimchi (Cucumber kimchi) pictured here:
Aside from learning how to make these (totally different) kinds of kimchis, I learned a little bit about the philosophies of Korean food. Can you tell I'm totally stoked on this class??

Kimchi making is pretty time-consuming. Though there is no actual cooking with heat, there is a ton of preparation involved, which explains why this is usually made with the help of all the women in a village or family. The cabbage, for instance, needs to be washed, divided in quarters, rinsed, salted, then soaked in salt water for hours, then be carefully rinsed several times, then drained thoroughly, the stuffed with So, which is a whole separate process requiring many steps and careful attention. Traditional kimchi recipes don't have precise measurements- instead the recipes are passed down through families, and are committed to taste memory and muscle memory to make. Kimchi making is very much a sensual experience. You must handle the vegetables (carefully) a lot. It is said that two people could make kimchi with exactly the same amount and quality of ingredients, as well as the same fermenting time, and yet their kimchi would come out tasting different because the heat from each maker's hands would leave an imprint on the final product.

Right now, I have samples of each of the 3 kinds of kimchi we made in my fridge. I'll report back on the blog about the results of each when I taste them. Right now, 2 of the 3 can be eaten now, though only 1 has actually reached its prime eating time: the Water kimchi....

Check in on my next blog entry to read more about my adventures in Water kimchi!!

1 comment:

malcomama said...

Fabulous! What a fine thing to learn how to make!!! I've had the napa cabbage one, of course, and radish kimchi from Uwajimaya. Can we make some when you're here?