Although home made kimchi is a relatively late addition to my culinary repertoire, it has quickly achieved star status. It may not be playing to sold out houses yet (see my earlier lament of the lonely fermenter) but no matter. This one is here to stay.
Fennel kimchi is now the go-to version in the SpecD kitchens. The anise flavor and crunch hold up well amid the hot red pepper, fish sauce, garlic, ginger and funk.
Traditional Korean red pepper flakes (gochugaru) have a nice heat level and a pretty bright color. But recently I’d run out of gochugaru so I used good old McCormick’s red pepper flakes instead. It worked out just fine. Since I like to bring on the heat, I use a 2:1 ratio of hot peppers. Two tablespoons red pepper flakes and one tablespoon cayenne powder is a good amount to fire up a pound or so mix of fennel, carrots and radishes.
I’ve already confessed to putting kimchi on pasta, which was met with shock and dismay. My newest passion is take-out souvlaki, freshly grilled, juicy and hot, topped with fennel kimchi. It’s amazing. Why would I lie about this?
The taco in the picture is grilled bluefish with fennel kimchi. Adorable, right? Delicious.
Oh and here’s an interesting, though not particularly relevant, New York Times. article about the Korean kimchi industry.
3 fennel bulbs
1 large carrot
1 cup bean sprouts
1 bunch scallions
1 bunch red radishes
2″ piece of ginger
1 head of garlic
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoons cayenne pepper
2 tablespoon hot red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 cups brine: 2 cups water with 2 tablespoons of salt
– For the fennel bulbs: trim off the feathery fronds off the long stalks. Cut off the hard base. Cut the the bulb into 1 1/2″ batons. Slice the stalks into thin disks.
– Peel and slice the carrot.
– Trim the ends of the radishes, slice thinly.
– Cut the scallions (white and green parts) into 1 1/2″ pieces, then chop long-way to make thin shreds.
2. Prepare the kimchi paste: Peel and chop the ginger. Smash the garlic cloves with the broad side of a knife, remove skins. Place the ginger, garlic, sugar, cayenne, red pepper flakes and fish sauce in the bowl of a food processor. Process until it makes a thick paste. NOTE: The fumes from the hot peppers will be pungent.
3. WEAR RUBBER GLOVES. Place all the vegetables, including the bean sprouts, into a large bowl. Add the paste to the vegetables, and wearing rubber gloves, massage the paste into the vegetables. Squeeze and knead the vegetables, working them until they wilt and the mixture gets a little drippy. This will take about five minutes.
4. Pack the kimchi into a large crock or glass jar. Press down to remove air bubbles. Gently pour the brine over the top until just covered. You probably won’t need all the brine. Lay a piece of plastic wrap on top of the kimchi and press down to cover. Inevitably some pieces will float to the top; the plastic film keeps them from drying out.
5. Cover the crock or jar and leave to ferment for five to seven days. When ready, transfer to jars, close tight (to keep in the aroma) and store in the refrigerator.