Sunday, October 17, 2010

A good little Korean girl

So per my last post, I've been craving Korean food. I've been going out to Korean restaurants, buying kimchee which I'm delighted to have in my Safeway, and generally gorging myself on the salty delights that typically appear on a Korean dinner table.

I was also inspired by my good friend Katie, who really challenged herself during a food blog competition to make something near and dear to my heart and stomach, bibimbap. She was tasked with making a dish that represented a new culture to her, and she chose Korean food! She also made bulgogi, which I think of as the quintessential Korean entree. I'm really proud of her, and though I didn't get to try it I'm willing to bet money that it was delicious. Katie's a fabulous cook.

While I was searching for recipes for Katie, I kept coming across recipes for oi sobaegi (cucumber) kimchee. I couldn't believe how easy it looked! I had most of the ingredients already in my pantry, so I decided to do a little experimenting of my own. The result was great oi sobaegi kimchee, but a little stinky in my fridge. Next time I'll need to triple bag the jar before I put it in!

So today when I was thinking about lunch I decided to pull some favorites out of the fridge and make a delicious Korean fall meal. The result: Miso soup with meaty chinese mushrooms, leafy greens tossed in spicy pepper paste (gochu), anchovies stir fried in gochu, soy sauce and sugar, pickled sweet radish (taquan), and of course, cucumber kimchee. Now here I sit, stuffed to the brim after a lunch that would make my grandmother proud, make my grandfather hungry, and give my mom a headache because of all the salt!!!

Oi kimchee:

10 Korean, pickling or kirby cucumbers*, with ends sliced off
1/4 cup salt
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup kochukaru (Korean chili pepper)
1/2 cup Asian chives, cut into 1 inch pieces (I used regular chives, or you can use green onions)
1/4 cup fish sauce or liquid from brined sauce
1/3 cup shredded carrots
2 Tbsp sugar

Cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise, leaving on end in tact. Rotate and cut again lengthwise, so you have four sections of the cucumber connected at the bottom. Fill a large bowl with water and dissolve the salt in it. Soak the cucumbers for 30 minutes. In the meantime, mix all other ingredients in a bow.. After 30 minutes, stuff each of the cucumbers with the mixture (there will be some leftover) and pack tightly into a glass container. Be sure to find a container that will hold all of the cucumbers but won't have too much space when full. Then put about a cup of water in the bowl that the mixture was in and dissolve the rest of the mixture. Dump that over the cucumbers, seal up the container (has to be air-tight), and keep it at roomtemp at least overnight. I kept it out for 2 days because I like my kimchee sour!!!

This is all that was left of my lunch: