Friday, December 28, 2012

Kimchee or Merely the Mak

Ingredients for mak kimchee: (clockwise) Korean radish, Asian chives, Napa cabbage, carrots, garlic, Korean chili flakes

Kimcheelicious Rewards have left Brooklyn. All shippable food items have now been sent vacuum-packed via USPS: Hanguk Saffron, Napa cabbage kimchee (baechu), fermented radish (kkakdugi) and Korean chili paste (gochuchang). Now there’s room in the refrigerator again. As I prepare the last round of rewards (Kimchee Making Kits) I realize I’m out of all out of kimchee. I gave the last of the baechu and kkakdugi to the clerks at the Park Slope PO. They were super helpful, one of them repackaged a few items for me to get the postal rate down. So now what do I do?

Here’s a quick solution: Mak Kimchee, the typical salad style kimchee also knows as quick kimchee. The word “mak” in Korean is more akin to ease than speed. It’s meant for casual meals. The flavor is not as refined as whole-head style kimchee (pogi), but it’s ready to eat in about a week. Napa cabbage is cut into pieces that are roughly 1 1/2" square, and prepared with salt and the brined, after which it’s seasoned in paste and fermented before it’s stored cold. It should be ready by early week.

After 12 hours of brining, all ingredients are combined and mixed with Korean chili paste.

It’s even easier to make if you gather and prepare the ingredients in advance. Some ingredients can be omitted or substituted, but I must emphasize that there is no substitute for Korean chili flakes (gochucaru). It has a unique sweet smokey flavor that’s hard to match. The key to making a solid kimchee is in the seasoned chili paste. There are many quality commercial brands on the market, but if you have issues with shellfish or animal products in general, it’s best if you make your own. Here are instructions for making vegan mak kimchee and Korean chili paste.

There is no substitute for sweet, smoked flavor of Korean chili flakes (gochucaru).

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