Kimchi is Korea's national dish that also happens to be a kind of condiment. The sauce, or more correctly marinade, is made of vegetables usually in a sweet or sour sauce, and dates back to about 3,000 years ago. Indeed, kimchi is such an integral part of Korean culture that when they take a picture, they usually say "kimchi" instead of "cheese".
This traditional dish is not only easy to make, but happens to be a very healthy lunch or dinner option. There are different versions of the recipe according to season, but the dish is most popular during the winter months because of its warming and filling qualities. Although traditional kimchi can take a long time to make, this recipe is (relatively) quick and easy to make and is great for sharing with friends and family.
Recipe serves: about 4 people
1 head of napa cabbage
8 cups of water
1 cup salt
6-8 scallions (green onions), sliced and chopped
1/2 cup Sriracha sauce (this is a spicy sauce, so if you want the dish to be more mild, try using less)
1 tablespoon fish sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
4 garlic cloves, minced
Begin by separating all of the leaves of the napa cabbage and rinsing them off. Cut these leaves into small 1-2 inch pieces.
Then, in a large bowl, stir the salt into the water until it dissolves. Place the pieces of napa cabbage into the bowl with the salt water and stir so that all of the leaves are coated. Place a plate on top of the napa cabbage and let them soak for about 2 hours (this is the longest step in the kimchi making process, and attempts to simulate the pickling of the cabbage).
After the napa cabbage has soaked, the leaves should be wilted and very bendable. Remove the leaves from the bowl of salt water and rinse them off with cold water, shaking them at the end to remove any extra salt.
In a separate bowl, mix together the Sriracha sauce, fish sauce, rice vinegar and garlic. Mix in the pickled napa cabbage and sliced scallions. Place the mixture into the refrigerator for about an hour before serving. This will allow all of the ingredients to blend together and make the pickled, spicy taste of the kimchi even better.
Meanwhile, prepare some white or brown rice to eat with the kimchi. For white rice, the ratio is generally one cup rice to two cups boiling water, and for brown rice, one cup rice to 2 3/4 cups boiling water. Cover the pot for about 10-20 minutes or until the rice is cooked, tender and fluffy.
Add the rice to bowls and place some of the kimchi sauce (or condiment) on top.
Serve with chopsticks for a more traditional serving and enjoy your induction into the rich world of Korean cuisine!