Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Recipe: Watermelon Rind Kimchee

Labor Day cookouts and Halloween themed stores tell us that fall’s cool kiss is nigh and our warm summers days are fleeting. But here’s a way to extend some of that summer flavor—make watermelon rind kimchee. It’s prepared similarly to cucumber kimchee (oi kimchee) but as where fermented cucumbers have a shorter life span (five days), watermelon rind will keep a firm texture for about a month in the refrigerator.

The rind itself is not very digestible at first; peeling and salting help break down some of the fiber, which then allows lactic acid bacteria to do a more efficient job of fermentation after which you’ll have a firm yet tender texture. It very juicy, tart and spicy—infused with garlic, ginger and Korean chili. It goes so well with meats and vegetables. I like it along side my tuna or chicken salad sandwich. So what are you waiting for? Run out, get a watermelon and save that rind. If you’re not quite ready, you can keep the rind refrigerated for about a week in plastic bag.  make something that your family will enjoy at the table.

Watermelon Rind Kimchee
  • 4 cups water melon rind, peeled and sliced into 1" strips
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tsp sea salt 
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup dried Korean chili flake (gochucaru)
  • 8 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh ginger, julienned into 1" matchsticks
  • 1 sheet of nori (gim in Korean)
  • 1 small red onion, sliced thinly
  • 3 tbsp toasted sesame seed (optional)
  • brine: 1 cup water + 1 tbsp sea salt
Prepare garlic, ginger and onion and set aside. Rinse rind and remove any dirt or sediment. With a vegetable peeler shave off the outer rind; remove and discard any bruised portions. Shave as much of the soft sweet pulp as possible as this does not ferment well. Slice rind into small strips that are roughly 1" long by 1/2" wide. In a large colander, sprinkle with 2 tsp sea salt, mix well and allow it to drain for one hour. Rinse lightly and drain for 10 minutes.

In a large bowl mix rind with 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup sea salt, sesame seed (optional), sliced garlic, ginger and onion. With a spatula mix with 1 cup dried Korean chili flake until all ingredients are evenly incorporated. Place nori sheet over the top, cover bowl with a paper towel and allow to rest at room temperature for three to four days. Taste daily—when it starts to sour, transfer to an air-tight container (large mason jar). Gently press contents down to remove air and force liquid to the top. Cover with brine to a depth of 1/2" over contents. Refrigerate for at least five days before serving.

Be sure to remove the nori from your serving portions; you can return it to the container or discard. This kimchee will keep optimal texture and flavor for roughly a month—after which it might be too soft to handle. For Hawaiian-style kimchee mix with crushed pineapple, prepared hijiki seaweed and a little toasted sesame oil when serving.

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