i was still missing a few kimchi ingredients: thai chili peppers and salted shrimp. when i woke up this morning it was still snowing a little bit, but by time i made up my mind to go out and collect the rest of my ingredients, it began to rain. i can bike when it snows, but not when it rains. so i had no choice but to walk with an umbrella. the union square korean supermarket would carry the salted shrimp, at a distance of a mile away, about 21 minutes walking. walking gave me a chance to play pokemon go, which i haven't done in a while. i managed to collect 2 new pokemons, a squirtle and a voltorb. along the way i stopped by market basket to pick up some thai chili peppers. prices on these peppers can fluctuate, i shouldn't have been so surprised that they're a little bit more expensive in the winter ($3.60, $7.99/lb). i really didn't need a whole container but that's all they had; good thing is i can freeze what i don't use. i also picked up a box of clementine oranges ($4.99).
reliable market did some recent renovations. they expanded their alcohol selection, and added a fresh sushi counter. i found the salted shrimp at the back of the store along with the refrigerated kimchi. like the thai chili peppers, salted shrimp is not essential, but it adds another layer of flavor to the kimchi. i don't use saeujeot for anything else other than korean kimchi; it'll just live in my fridge for the next few years until it goes bad and i have to toss it out (it's got a june 2018 expiration date). price per gram, it's about the same price as what i paid for it the last time i bought salted shrimp in january 2013. i also checked out their korean red pepper powder selection. i almost bought a new package but i figured i still had enough at home (later i'd realize the pepper powder i had was already expired and wasn't very good, so i hindsight i should've got fresh chili powder). out of curiosity i checked their price on napa cabbage: 99¢/lbs! glad i bought mine from chinatown, where it was only 38¢/lbs.
on the way back, i walked a little further to visit a pokemon gym that had an active slot. i quickly filled it with one of my pokemon, then immediately collected on 10 pokecoins. i now have a grand total of 40 pokecoins, just enough to buy nothing.
the very first time i ever made korean kimchi was december 2008; i made a jar and a half of kimchi. the next attempt wasn't until may 2009, when i began adding salted shrimp as well. i must've caught kimchi fever because the next month (june) i made kimchi twice: using the food processor to chop up some ingredients, and starting to recycle pickle jars when i couldn't find anymore leftover kimchi jars. then there was a hiatus. i didn't make kimchi at all in 2010, and it wasn't until december 2011 when i made kimchi again; maybe i was making up for the previous year but i ended up with 13 jars of kimchi total. i made so much that in 2012 i didn't bother making anymore. it wasn't until january 2013 when i revisited kimchi, making 4 jars. summer of 2013 i left for chongqing for a year. even in china i was making kimchi, creating a small batch in april 2014. instead of salted shrimp (which i couldn't find), i used slightly-cooked clams. and being that this was chongqing, i certainly had no problems find hot chili peppers, whether it be fresh or powdered. i even let some korean coworkers try my kimchi, they seemed to like it, which i took as a badge of honor. that was probably the last time i made kimchi; i didn't make it when i came back, nor all of 2015. now with 2016 almost over, i'm due for some homemade kimchi.
returning home, i started making the kimchi after i watched the news and ate a chobani yogurt for lunch. the first step to make kimchi is to chop up the napa cabbage and daikon radish and reduce them with salt. along with the cabbage and radish, i also chopped up an asian pear to be reduced as well. that turned out to be a mistake, because the pear basically just disappeared. i decided to add the pear again during the mixing phase by food processing a pear along with the garlic and ginger (which would come later). the asian pear is the only part of the ingredient that's new. i see asian pear mentioned in many kimchi recipes so i wanted to see what additional flavor there might be by adding it. maybe the sweetness of the pear can balance any potential over-saltiness.
chopping a whole head of napa cabbage seems like it'd be difficult, but cabbage is mostly water, and the knife slices through it like crispy butter. i cut the cabbage into 1x1" squares. i ended up with a two containers full of chopped cabbage and some radish and pear (a plastic bunch bowl and a medium stockpot).
because i needed some space to mix in the salt, i divided up the chopped cabbage into 3 containers for easier mixing. new this time around was my jumbo-sized 20 quart stockpot. i bought that a while ago hoping to turn it into a moonshine still that i never got around to building (maybe some day). since then it's just been sitting on top of my kitchen cabinets. the big size is perfect for mixing vegetables (which will come later). in the meantime, after dividing the cabbage, i salted them. initially i only used 4 tbsp, but then i added another tbsp (for a total of 5 tbsp). in hindsight that might've been too much salt, but i was basing it on my 2013 kimchi recipe where i used 4 tbsp of salt for 5.8 lbs. of napa cabbage. i mixed everything by hand then let it all reduce. by then it was 1:30pm. after 1-1/2 hours, i decided to mix all the cabbage together into the jumbo stockpot.
my next roommate got in touch with me today. her name is karen, a mexican nutritionist, coming to boston to do research for the month of february. she wanted to ask if my guest bedroom was available and if i could send her some photos of the place. i could've just sent her the photos i took for freddy back in october, but instead i decided to get some updated photos with the fisheye lens attached to my nikon coolpix 4500. i bought that nikon FC-E8 more than a decade ago but i'm still finding uses for it after all these years (like infrared fisheye). for taking interior shots, nothing beats the fisheye for coverage, despite the strong distortion along the edges. if i had the money, i'd buy a cheap fisheye for the canon.
afterwards i sent karen the photos along with the typical roommate information. being that she's from always-warm mexico, i warned her about the cold weather in february. from our correspondences, i learned that she also likes to cook and garden. maybe i can learn some mexican recipes from her!
my tayda electronics order arrived today. i'd never heard of them before (they sell electronic parts) but they had a 17% off thanksgiving sale so i ordered a few things over the black friday weekend. the parts weren't expensive, a few cents to a dollar (it would've been a bargain even without the discount), and there was shipping but only a small amount ($1.25; i hate paying for shipping on things that cost more than the things themselves; it did take 8 days to arrive). for some reason i thought the company was based in china, so i was surprised to see it came from colorado (maybe a shipping warehouse).
i got a pair of breadboards (didn't realize they were a bit small; a few days later i ordered a larger one off of ebay), some sensors (sound, temperature/humidity), a nRF24L01+ 2.4G wireless transceiver module (not quite sure how to use it, but it was only 99¢), and some 433MHz TX+RX wireless transmitting modules (which i will use for a project that allows my raspberry pi to control the lights in my house via the internet remotely).
once the cabbage reduction had reached the 4 hours mark, i poured out the liquid because i didn't want the cabbage to be sitting in it. i saved the liquid because i may need it to top off any dry kimchi jars. i also put some pickle jars (nathan's half sour pickles) i've been saving over the years (found them in my basement) into the dishwasher to sterilize them. next time i may just boil the jars instead because it took around an hour to wash the jars (even on a light cycle). at 7:30pm - after 6 hours of reducing - i transferred the cabbage into the medium stockpot and drained whatever else liquid remained. i tried a piece of cabbage: it was salty, which immediately made me regret adding 5 tbsp of salt. i read some rule that said 1/2 tbsp of salt for every pound of cabbage; i'll follow that advice for next time.
with cabbage reduction over, now came time to prepare the mixing ingredients. in years past i've just chopped the garlic and sliced the ginger, but i've also shredded them in the food processor. i went with the food processor approach this time, gave me a chance to use the processing container of my ninja blender. i peeled two heads of garlic, which gave me about 20 cloves. i broken off 2 nuggets of ginger and peeled them. i also peeled an asian pear, cored the bitter middle, then chopped it up into smaller pieces. there was enough that not everything would fit in the processor so i did it in halves. food processing is so much more fun that regular old chopping! i ended up with a finely chopped blend of garlic, ginger, and asian pear.
i chopped the garlic chives then some thai chili peppers. chili peppers is what actually makes the kimchi hot, not so much the chili pepper powder. garlic chives just add another layer of pungency to the kimchi. in years past i also added scallions, which i didn't do this time. normally i add scallions (which are more common) when i can't find garlic chives, which i can only find in asian supermarkets.
finally i mixed all the ingredients with the reduced cabbage. i did the mixing in the 20 quart jumbo stockpot; it was so big, i could've easily made 10x the amount of kimchi. to the mix i added 2 tbsp of salted shrimp. my 2013 recipe said i only added a tbsp, but i don't know if that was a mistake. i normally don't like that particular seafood flavor, and i'm pretty sensitive to it in my food, but in this case, with so many other strong flavors, you can't taste the shrimp. besides, i had a lot of it, might as well use it. in fact, i actually wanted to add 3 tbsp, but decided to play it safe and only do 2 tbsp.
finally, i scooped in 10 tbsp of korean red pepper powder. it looked a little off. for one thing, the powder wasn't the typical bright red, but rather a dark maroon color. also the powder seemed more like dried flakes than actual powder, and i wasn't getting that reddish coating i normally get. i realized too late that the pepper powder wasn't very good, too dry and not the right color. i ended up adding another 2 tbsp (for a total of 12 tbsp), trying to make the kimchi more red.
after mixing everything thoroughly, i began packing the kimchi into the 32 oz. pickle jars (i didn't realize they were 32 oz., i thought they were smaller). i managed to fill 4 jars. 7 lbs. of napa cabbage reduced down to just 4 jars of kimchi! i put the jars in glass lasagna bowls and open the lid slightly to allow any gases to escape. so now i will wait the rest of the week to watch for signs of fermentation, before putting the jars in the refrigerator. later in the evening i added some cabbage juice to the jars, just to make sure most of the kimchi was submerged in liquid.
for dinner i heated up a leftover meatbun. still later i cooked a frozen burrito. even later still i found an old frozen microwave meal (vegetarian pasta) and ate that as well. i watched the colts-jets game, indianapolis destroyed new york with a final score of 41-10. it made me jealous, because the way the colts played is how i wish the patriots would play, where they completely dominate an opponent and then run up the score.