|Mak Kimchee (salad style) is made for everyday meals. It’s widely sold in Asian markets in 16 oz containers.|
|Pogi Kimchee is for fine dining.|
Kimchee Is a semi-raw fermented food from Korea. It’s spicy and pungent with a flavor that pairs well with so many other foods—rich in vitamins, minerals and beneficial microbes. Authentic Korean kimchee is not a vegetarian food. It’s typically fermented with fish sauce or shellfish paste, and in some, animal stock. If you have any dietary concerns in general, it’s best that you learn to make your own. The key to vegan kimchee is in the chili paste, or gochuchang in Korean.
These instructions are for home-fermenting mak kimchee, the type that’s widely sold in Asian grocery stores, and gochuchang. Mak kimchee (top image) is made in the same way as whole-head or pogi kimchee (above left) except that the Napa cabbage is cut into bite-size pieces before fermenting. Mak kimchee is intended for casual meals. Making your own kimchee is not that difficult but it does take time, ideally a free weekend. To learn how to make your own vegan gochuchang, Click Here.
Let’s Make Mak Kimchee
There are three main ingredients for making this kimchee: Napa cabbage, Korean radish (mu) and Korean chili paste (gochuchang) made with coarsely ground dried pepper flakes. There are many commercial brands of kimchee available in Asian markets, but read the ingredients carefully if you have dietary concerns. Although it’s tempting to get the largest Napa cabbage you can find, a medium size cabbage (2 to 3 lbs) will have the sweetest flavor. Korean radish imparts a deep pungence as it ferments, which is essential to the flavor. It can me substituted with Japanese radish (daikon) for a milder taste. Fermented or fresh Korean chili paste (gochuchang) owes its unique smoky aroma and sweet, grassy flavor to the native chili which is dried and ground into coarse flakes. To make your own vegan gochuchang Click Here. Gather these items ahead of time:
Second fermentation: Screw the cap on tightly and refrigerate (38-41°F). Refrigeration slows down acidification allowing CO2 gas and osmosis to create a deep savory flavor. Your tangy fresh kimchee is ready in two to three weeks. It will develop more complex flavors in four weeks. Kimchee will store refrigerated for up to eight months but will take on a sharper flavor. Refrigerate your jar of kimchee after each serving. And there you have it, home-fermented kimchee.
Vegan Korean Chili Paste
|A fresh batch of vegan Korean chili paste (gochuchang) that's tangy with a long lasting savory flavor|
These instructions are for making vegan gochuchang using the amino acids found in dried shiitake mushrooms and red miso. A source of protein and amino acid is essential to making this chili paste. The flavor is not as deep as the traditional gochuchang, but it’s clean and tangy with a long lasting savory taste. This recipe yields approximately 4 cups.
1. Grind dried shiitake mushrooms in a coffee grinder to make a powder. Measure out 4 tbsp.
2. Toast sesame seeds in a pan on low heat and set aside to cool.
3. Peel and dice ginger, garlic, radish, pear (or apple) and onion to measure and puree in a blender with soy sauce, orange zest (optional), red miso and warm water.
4. Put Korean chili flakes, shiitake mushroom powder, sugar, sea salt and toasted sesame seeds into a large bowl and mix until all dried ingredients are well incorporated. Add puree and mix with a rubber spatula until you have a paste that is smooth and evenly blended.
5. Transfer to jars and cover. Allow gochuchang to rest for two hours at room temperature and store refrigerated (41°F). Refrigerator after each serving. Make sure that your container is sealed well to prevent influencing other foods such as butter and milk.
Gochucaru will develop a deeper flavor if allowed to ferment at room temperature. If you prefer a fermented flavor, cover the mixing bowl with a dish cloth and leave in a clean open area for two to three days. Stir once a day to ensure even fermentation then store refrigerated in an airtight container. Gochuchang will store well for up to four months if kept refrigerated. Over a longer period of time it will become sour and grainy.