If you aren't Korean—or maybe even if you are—you may be under the impression that making kimchi at home is a near-impossible task. The fermented side dish, so ineradicable to Korean cuisine, may be mysteriously complex in its flavour profile, but it's actually not all that difficult to make.
Junghyun Park, the chef at Atoboy, a hot new "casual fine-dining" spot in New York City's Nomad neighbourhood—and the former chef de cuisine of the two-Michelin-starred Jungsik—showed us how you can be on your way to enjoying the funky condiment with dinner this weekend in just a few simple steps.
The menu at Atoboy focuses on the side dishes served with larger Korean meals, so who better to initiate us into the intricacies of kimchi than Park himself? Besides, his name is synonymous with great Korean cuisine in New York food circles, and beyond.
Think of this as an easy three-step process. Obtaining the ingredients, some of which you might not be totally familiar with, may be the hardest part—although they are all readily available in better supermarkets, online, or in specialty stores. So don't sweat it.
To start, you need to brine your cabbage—which is no big deal. Really. Just fill a large pot with water, salt it heavily, and then put it on some heat until the salt is dissolved. Let the salty water cool, add the cabbage, and allow it to soak overnight. That's it.
Step two consists of the preparation of a sweet rice purée, which is another cinch to make. Add sweet rice powder to water, and stir it over heat for ten minutes. Done.
Next comes the actual kimchi base, a mixture of deliciousness that you'll combine with the rice purée in a large mixing bowl. Don't even think of using any substitutions for the gochugaru, the unique Korean red chili pepper flake powder that will make your kimchi truly kickass. Mix that with garlic, fish sauce, fermented anchovy sauce, sugar, ginger, and salted shrimp—and now you'll be talking. Throw in some radish and scallions and step two is fini.
We're almost done. Really! You're going to take the cabbage leaves, one by one, and spread some kimchi base on them. Then you'll wrap them up, place them in a container, and they will do their own work of fermenting. You are done.
See? That wasn't hard at all!
You may not be ready for any Michelin stars—after all, there's only one Junghyun Park—but you will have some damn good kimchi in your fridge.
And what's better than that?
RECIPE: Homemade Kimchi