Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Relishing a Summer Moment

These dogs are dressed for summer with sweet Napa cabbage kimchee relish and freshly fermented cucumbers.
Kimchee relish is summer in a jar.
The summers gone and the last of the silver linden leaves barely cling to the trees. According to Farmers’ Almanac, New York is due for a long, cold, spell. As the days grow short, I miss the long afternoons and the taste of charcoal grilled food, sun ripened tomatoes, potato salad and fresh corn. Every year since 2004 I’ve hosted summer Bar-B-Qs at Freddy’s Bar, along with by buddy Pat O’Shea.

Is there anything more American than a casual backyard gathering around a Smokey Joe? There might be, but it probably doesn’t involve kimchee relish. I make sure there’s plenty on hand. It’s so good that it reanimates dry veggie burgers and makes rubber tofu dogs edible. It pairs well with wasabi mayonnaise or brown Polish mustard. I usually bring a few 16 oz jars to summer grill gatherings, and I always leave with empty jars and requests. I don’t have a formal recipe written down, but it’s not hard to assemble. It’s tart, sweet and mildly spiced with a crisp texture.

Here are a few things I always include: minced kimchee, Korean chili paste (gochuchang), chopped onion, orange marmalade, Jamaican curry, grated ginger, dried currents golden rasins, and green or red bell pepper; ingredients vary by what I have in the kitchen. The trick is set the jar(s) out at room temperature for three days before storing cold. This allows flavors to bloom and meld. An ice-cold libation inspires great conversation on a sultry afternoon, but a generous helping of Napa cabbage kimchee relish leaves a lasting impression well into fall.Although our sultrier months in the Northeast are relatively short, I can always relish the memory of a summer by the grill with friends when I open a jar.

Soft lightly toasted  potato rolls—this is what separates the kimchee dog from the other animals.

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