Monday, May 05, 2008
Mool kimchi is a type of kimchi made to be eaten cold in the summer. Unlike the kimchi I was familiar with prior to this class, water kimchi is not fermented for a long period of time before being eaten. After preparing this type in class, it really hit home that using the word "fermented" to describe kimchi is an inaccurate translation of what kimchi is. A better way to describe it, maybe, is to say that kimchi is a vegetable dish that is cooked or marinated in its own juices with the help of salt, kind of like ceviche, and most like pickles.
Water kimchi is a refined dish that layers the delicate essences of vegetables into a cold broth. The result is literally a water essence with some finely sliced fresh red radish and nabak (refers to the regularly square-cut shape & size) Napa cabbage slices. Although water kimchi is a very fine dish, the preparation takes a lot of elbow grease. This kimchi is "royal style" and was made for the king, who was considered too divine to eat foods that weren't first broken down into finer bits and then remade in the image of the food they were (pork chops were boned, finely minced, and then reshaped on the bone before being cooked).
Our version of water kimchi includes Korean pears, white onions, garlic, Korean radish, Korean cucumbers, and ginger. All of these were minced or grated to a fine pulp, then strained through mesh, blended into distilled water and flavored with lots of lemon juice, salt, and fine pepper flake, then garnished with the fresh radish and cabbage. We were told this water kimchi can be served on its own or over cold guksu (thick wheat flour noodles). I ate a small bowl this morning and it was surprisingly savory, delicious, and refreshing!
Update: I demolished the rest of the water kimchi last night, over cold brown rice. It was so scrumptious!