while heating up my final slice of leftover chicken pot pie for lunch in the early afternoon, i suddenly remembered that i was supposed to be making kimchi today. so i began at 1:30pm, keying on eye on the clock because i had to be at the cafe by 2:30pm.
even though i had 2 heads of napa cabbage, their combine weight was about the same (7 lbs.) as the kimchi i made last time, so i followed that recipe in terms of portions. i had all my ingredients on hand, no need to rush out to buy anything like before. what's different this time is i had slightly more daikon radish (half pound more). i didn't add the asian pear to reduce at the beginning, but rather waited until the end to combine with the garlic and ginger in the food processor. for convenience, i mixed everything in my single large 20 qt. stock pot, instead of dividing the reducing cabbage in multiple containers (which was only a necessary step in prior recipes because i didn't have a large enough container to hold everything). finally, i had a package of fresh korean hot pepper powder.
i salted and mixed the chopped cabbage and daikon radish. i found the amount of salt i used last time was a bit too much, but my parents thought the flavor was just right, so i kept the portion to 5 tbsp of salt. i used fine sea salt because i had a whole carton cristina left behind (she broke the rotating cap so now it won't close properly), but any salt is fine. for fermenting vegetables, i prefer fine salt with no additional additives (like iodine, but it's not a big deal).
i left the house a bit after 2:20pm, riding the bike to the cafe. temperature was in the low 30's, but increasing steadily due to the rainstorm arriving later tonight. i was at the cafe to meet my parents' friend nancy to help her finish setting up her ipad. when i arrived they'd already gotten her yahoo e-mail to work. she also went down to the t-mobile store and managed to get line to work on her alcatel phone. the problem she didn't have enough space on her 2GB phone, but a lot of apps are bloatware that can't be removed.
line still wasn't working on the ipad, despite changing the password and restarting both devices. there seems to be something wrong with line's server, because it thinks there's a connection error, not a username/password issue. one can also log into line using a QR code but when using that method, the ipad line app wouldn't display the code, just sat there spinning. i also got youtube working (signing up with nancy's previous account) and turned on the chinese handwriting keyboard as well as voice recognition. my father showed me the second barrel of chinese sauerkraut he's making and i helped him move it down into the basement to ferment. i finally returned home by 4:30pm, bringing with me a bag of frozen chinese dumplings for dinner.
the cabbage had a chance to reduce for 2 hours, but normally i reduce to 6 hours before mixing in the other ingredients and packing the kimchi into jars. in the meantime, i soaked some jars in boiling water. probably not the best way to sanitize the jars, but easier than running them through the dishwasher which takes forever. i compared the old korean pepper powder to the new one i got. while the expired powder was dark maroon, the new powder was bright red. the lesson learned here is always use fresh chili powder!
while searching the fridge for things to throw out (tonight is trash night), i came across my sourdough starter. inside the jar was a carpet of green mold. i dumped it out immediately, but while i was scooping the starter into the trash, a thought did cross my mind: could it still be edible? maybe that green mold is the kind of mold i like in blue cheese? but better safe than sorry. thus concluded my sourdough experiment, something i began at the end of the summer, but never quite able to get a decent loaf of sourdough bread.
i prepared the additional ingredients to be mixed with the cabbage. i cut the bundle of garlic chives into quarters. i peeled the ginger and asian pear, cutting them into smaller sizes so they'll fit in my small food processor. i had more ginger than i needed so i saved half (the portion amount in the recipe list is already 1/2 the amount). of the ginger half i didn't save, i julienned half of that into thin slices. i also peeled 2 heads of garlic (about 20 cloves). into the food processor went the 3 ingredients.
i chopped about 15 thai chili peppers. they were previously frozen, i took some out earlier and let them thaw. they actually chop easier when frozen so i'll probably just use frozen peppers next time.
approaching 8pm i drained the reducing cabbage. the reason i do this is so that when i add the other ingredients, the kimchi doesn't become a soggy mess. i'm not making kimchi soup here! i managed to pour out a quart of cabbage juice. i saved it in a jar in case i needed to use it later, but the cabbage still retained enough juices so that it wasn't necessary. i then dumped the rest of the ingredients into the large stock pot (including 2 tbsp of salted shrimp paste and 12 tbsp of red pepper powder) and mixed everything by hand.
maybe next time i might wear a glove because the combination of salt and pepper always end up hurting the little cracks in my hand. i had slightly more kimchi than last time, so top of the 4 quart jars of kimchi, i also had enough for a small jar (grey poupon mustard jar). i capped the jars, washed them, then put them in lasagna trays to catch the leaking kimchi juices when they begin fermenting.
the kimchi this time looked so much better with the fresh pepper powder. although it hasn't finished fermenting yet, i'm going to say this may be my most perfect batch of kimchi so far. next time i make kimchi i want to try the variety where i use quartered napa cabbage with chili powder paste.
for dinner i boiled the frozen chinese dumplings. i had some dumpling sauce in the cupboard. i was surprised by how little there was, then i saw the expiration date: 2007! it must've reduced in over the decade it's been sitting in my cabinet. i was going to toss it, but figured i'd try it anyway, if anything, it'd be an even more concentrated dipping sauce, and maybe the aging improved the flavor. to the sauce i also added some vietnamese garlic chili sauce and some rice vinegar.