Radish Kimchi Rice

Did everyone get their fill of Halloween candy?

Oh, good.

And now for something a little virtuous on All Saints’ Day, to help bring you down from the sugar high: radishes sautéed with brown butter and a spot of anchovy, tossed with kimchi, radish tops, and brown rice.  Top it all off with a luscious fried egg, because hey hey, even saints need a little luxury.

Radish Kimchi Rice

Yield: 2 to 3 servings; also known as 2 dinners and 1 lunch (lucky you)

Chopping the radishes into irregular chunks makes for a more visually interesting dish, gives variance in texture, and makes the work go faster. Feel free to be more precise if you're having the Queen over for dinner.

This recipe calls for cooked brown rice, something I usually have in the fridge. My favorite method for cooking brown rice is from Alton Brown, and results in perfect brown rice. Every. Single. Time. You're welcome.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 bunch radishes with green tops, washed well
  • 2 anchovy fillets
  • 1/3 cup kimchi (chopped if necessary)
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice (preferably day-old and cold)
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon, or to taste
  • Soy sauce, to taste
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • Butter or oil to fry eggs in (optional)
  • 1 egg per person (optional)

Instructions

1. In a large sauté pan, heat the butter over medium-low heat until it browns and smells nutty. Meanwhile, trim the greens from the radishes and set aside. Roughly chop the radishes into irregular pieces, removing the root "tails" in the process.

2. When the butter has browned, turn the heat to medium-high and add the anchovy, mashing with a spatula or wooden spoon to break up the fillets. Throw in the radishes. Toss to coat with the butter, and season with a pinch of salt. Let cook until softened and just beginning to brown.

3. Add the kimchi, and let cook briefly, about 1 minute. Toss in the rice, and cook until it's as done as you prefer it (anywhere from just warm to crunchy and brown). Add the radish tops (no need to chop or dry them off), and toss or stir until wilted. Taste, and add lemon juice, a dash of soy sauce, salt, and pepper. Taste again and correct seasoning as you like. Remove to plates or a bowl, and keep warm.

4. Add a bit of butter or oil to the pan, and set over medium-high heat. Crack eggs into the pan and fry to desired doneness (runny yolks are highly recommended). Top the radishes and rice with the eggs, and serve at once. Beer, though not required, is really, really nice with this one.

http://www.onehundredeggs.com/radish-kimchi-rice/

Kimchi

Yes, I’ve posted about kimchi before.  But for all its ease, and as much as I enjoy that recipe, that was ersatz kimchi, whipped together in a few hours and not even fermented.  Horrors, I know.

After a recent wedding in my boyfriend’s family, and the related chance to chat with his charming Korean cousin, I realized that it had been far too long since I’d had a batch of kimchi in my fridge.  I also knew that if I didn’t at least attempt a properly-made version, I’d have to explain myself sooner or later.  My culinary pride was at stake.

One major flaw with my previous go-to recipe was the absence of gochugaru, Korean chili flakes.  I had convinced myself that they couldn’t possibly be that much different from standard crushed red pepper flakes, but my heart of hearts knew I was fooling myself.

I found a reputable Korean market here in the city, and discovered how wrong I had been.  Despite their incarnadine brilliance, gochugaru are far less spicy than the comparatively drab red pepper flakes.  And because of this lack of palate-numbing capsaicin, the true flavor of the chilies really shines.  The flavor is bright and rich, fruity and robust at the same time.  It’s revelatory.

Also due to the lower capsaicin levels of these chili flakes, it becomes necessary to use more of them to get a decent level of heat.  And by “more”, I mean a lot more.  A heckuva lot more.  For example, I used 3/4 cup in this recipe, and I think the kimchi could stand to be spicier.  This makes it more of a session kimchi, though, one you can eat a whole plate of.  It’s not going to burn a hole in your throat if you take more than three bites, like some I’ve enjoyed.  Feel free to increase the amount of gochugaru if that’s what you’re going for.  Next time, I’ll probably use 1 cup (or more).  It might keep me from eating the whole jar, but probably not.

Please note: this is a properly fermented food.  It will sit on your counter for at least 1 day, and possibly more.  This might be off-putting, but if you’re making your own kimchi, you’re probably not that squeamish.  Also, any storage container you use needs to be very, very, very clean, to prevent the possibility of strange and unwanted pathogens growing in the cabbage without your consent.  Soap and the hottest water you can get are good; a solution of bleach and water is better.  Always use a clean utensil to remove any kimchi from the jar.

And take my advice: wear gloves when handling.  Otherwise, you’ll probably regret it.

Kimchi
Adapted from David Chang and Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee
Makes 10-12 cups

This recipe makes more kimchi than most people will ever go through before it gets old; feel free to decrease the size of the recipe.  Do not substitute the more common and much hotter crushed red pepper flakes for the less-spicy Korean chili flakes.  If you can’t find gochugaru, but still want to make kimchi, try this recipe.

For storage, be sure to use a glass canning jar, one with a rubber gasket, unless you want your entire fridge and the food therein to smell like fermented spicy cabbage.  Plastic is of no use here.  And make sure it is scrupulously clean.

3/4 cup kosher salt
1 quart water
1 quart ice water
4 pounds Napa cabbage (about 2 heads)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons minced garlic (15 g)
2 tablespoons minced ginger (15 g)
4 to 6 scallions, chopped (40 g)
3/4 cup Korean chili flakes (gochugaru), or more or less to taste

1. In a pan, bring the salt and 1 quart water to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt.  Remove from heat and add 1 quart ice water.  This should quickly cool down the salt water to about room temperature.

2. Meanwhile, thoroughly wash the cabbage.  Cut it lengthwise into quarters, and cut away the stem so that the leaves will separate.  Cut crossways into 1 to 2 inch strips, and put in a very large, non-reactive bowl.  Cover with the cooled salt water, placing a plate on top to help keep the cabbage submerged if necessary.  Let stand at room temperature for 3 to 5 hours.

3. While cabbage soaks, prepare remaining ingredients and combine together in a non-reactive bowl.

4. After 3 to 5 hours, drain cabbage and rinse thoroughly.  Squeeze dry, and return to the large bowl.  Toss with the other ingredients until evenly combined, being sure to wear gloves if using hands.  Transfer to a scrupulously clean glass jar (or jars), and cover with a very tight-fitting lid.  Let stand at room temperature for at least 24 hours, and up to several days.  You’ll notice some liquid forming in the jar, and maybe some bubbling.  This is okay.

5. Taste the kimchi after 24 hours, using a clean fork to remove it from the jar.  If you like the flavor, transfer it to the fridge at once; if you’d like a bit more funky depth, let it stay at room temperature, tasting occasionally, until you like the way it tastes.  Kimchi will keep indefinitely under refrigeration, but loses its edge after 3 to 4 weeks.  That “old” kimchi is best used for soups, stir fries, and pancakes.

Five Minute Photo Shoot: Ersatz Bibimbap

For dinner: a quick version of bibimbap.  Here, a plate of brown rice is topped with Napa cabbage, which was sautéed with Korean chili paste (gochujang), scallions, garlic, and chives.  Finishing the dish is a fried egg over very easy, for maximum runny egg yolk sauce.

Gochujang is my new best friend.

Five Minute Photo Shoot: Fried Rice

Part of the reason I’m doing this blog is to help me improve my photography and styling skills.  To that end, I’m going to periodically feature a Five Minute Photo Shoot, which does exactly what it says on the tin.  The idea is to style and take a quality photo (probably most often of my lunch, since that’s when the light is best), in no more than five minutes.

I’ll give a description of what it is, but since my lunches are most often cobbled together from random bits in the fridge, it’s not really easy for me to provide recipes.  If you’re really interested in something in particular, let me know in the comments, and I’ll see what I can remember.

So, without further ado, here’s what I had for lunch today: fried rice with red onion, kimchi, and cucumber, topped with an over-easy fried egg and a dab of plain yogurt.

I love the way the runny yolk turns into an unctuous sauce for the rice.  I could eat this every day.

Kimchi

One of my favorite parts of eating Korean food (and I do love me some Korean food) is the kimchi that invariably comes with the bowl of bi bim bap, or plate of bulgogi.  Korean cuisine is noted for the number of banchan (loosely translated as “side dishes”) that are served, but kimchi is undoubtedly the most common, and is served at every meal.

Kimchi is most often made from Napa cabbage, and usually fermented, though there are a staggering number of variations that may or may not involve cabbage at all.  There’s even a variation called white kimchi that uses no chili at all, though kimchi is typically renowned for its tear-inducing level of heat.

There are different kimchis for the different seasons, and major differences between North Korean and South Korean kimchi, as well as town-specific varieties.  This version comes from Lillian Chou, former Food Editor of our dearly departed Gourmet Magazine, and is a fast and easy version that can be finished with minimal effort.  Rather than being fermented for days, this version is more of a pickle, needing only a few hours rest.  Though some might frown on the non-traditional method, the result is fresh and vibrant, tasting young and crisp.

I first tried this recipe last March, when I made a batch of steamed pork buns, and wanted a little crunchy spice in the filling.  I was so impressed with the ease and excellent results that I immediately made a second batch as soon as the first was gone.  For a couple of months, I artfully (and sometimes not so artfully) worked handfuls of kimchi into nearly every dinner, scrambled eggs were dotted liberally with the stuff, snacks consisted mainly of a small plate of kimchi, and I lunched more often than I should have on bowls of rice, shelled edamame, and kimchi.

And then, I suppose, I grew weary of it; like a record you listen to exclusively for weeks on end and then suddenly can’t stand even the thought of it.  My kimchi jar stayed empty, and I was forced to pack peanut butter sandwiches for lunch again.

But then, in the midst of a recent spate of single-digit-degree days, the hunger came upon me, and kimchi was the only cure.  One key ingredient to authentic kimchi is Korean chili pepper flakes; but unfortunately, I didn’t have any, and it was far too cold to venture out in search.  In substitution, I used a mixture of the more widely available crushed red pepper flakes and an Asian-style chili garlic sauce, which brought an appropriate heat with a greater depth of flavor than would be possible with only the red pepper flakes.

Mixed together with fresh ginger, garlic, and scallions, the chili pepper mixture tastes reasonably authentic.  I would describe the level of heat as “moderately burning”; enough to make your eyes water if you eat a handful, potent enough to announce its presence when used in small doses in cooking, but not so overwhelming as to obscure the flavor of the other ingredients.  Feel free to adjust the amounts used, based on the heat level of your chilies and personal preference.  You can always add more, but you can’t take it out.

The characteristically robust and slightly funky flavor of kimchi, usually achieved through fermentation, is here mimicked with fish sauce, giving a slight nod to the South Korean style which often uses anchovies.  An Asian pear grated into the mixture provides a light sweetness, rounding out the overall flavor without being insistent.

A batch of this kimchi will last about 1 month in the refrigerator, giving you ample time to use what may seem like a staggering amount, especially as a little goes a long way.  If you need inspiration for ways to use it up, a quick search online will turn up recipes for kimchi soup, kimchi stir fry, kimchi pancakes, or any number of entrées to serve with kimchi.

The process is extremely simple.  The cabbage is cut down to size.

It then gets tossed with salt, and is left to rest for 2 hours.

The salting process draws excess water out of the cabbage, meaning that your kimchi will stay crisp in the refrigerator for weeks.  Otherwise, the cabbage would quickly wilt and go mushy.

While the cabbage sits, the other ingredients are prepared.  Ginger and garlic get minced together.

Sesame seeds get toasted in a pan over medium heat until fragrant, only a minute or three.

I like to just mix everything together, though you can also purée the garlic and ginger with the other liquids to make a smooth paste if you like.  Me, I don’t like to do so many dishes.

Rinse and drain the cabbage, and give your hands a little workout by squeezing all the liquid out of it.  You can’t hurt it; it will still stay crunchy, though it looks wilted now.  Add to the other ingredients, and mix.  If you use your hands, you might want to wear rubber gloves so you don’t accidentally burn your eyes later when you rub them.  Tongs work just as well, though.

Taste it to make sure it’s spicy enough for you.  Be sure to store it in glass, or some other non-reactive container, that has a tight-fitting lid.  I use a tall 1 1/2 liter canning jar with a swing-top lid.  As the kimchi sits in the refrigerator, it will begin to ferment, and will start to smell a little more pungent; unless you like kimchi-flavored milk and butter, you might want to invest the seven dollars in a proper storage container.

Quick Kimchi
Adapted from Lillian Chou

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds Napa cabbage (about 1 large head)
  • 3 tablespoons salt
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced
  • 3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, crushed slightly with side of heavy knife or in mortar
  • 2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Asian-style chili garlic sauce (or to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • 1 bunch scallions, halved lengthwise and cut into 1 inch lengths (about 1 cup)
  • 1 Asian pear (about 8 ounces), peeled

Directions: 

  1. Quarter the cabbage lengthwise.  Cut crosswise into 1 to 2 inch pieces.  Toss with the salt in a large bowl and let stand for 2 hours, tossing occasionally.
  2. Rinse the cabbage very well with cold water, being sure to wash off as much of the salt as possible.  Let drain in a colander.
  3. While the cabbage drains, mince the garlic and ginger as finely as possible.  Toast the sesame seeds in a pan over medium heat for about 2 minutes, or until fragrant.  Chop the scallions, and peel the Asian pear.
  4. In a large non-reactive bowl, combine the garlic, ginger, sesame seeds, fish sauce, vinegar, chili garlic sauce, red pepper flakes, and scallions.  Using a coarse grater, grate the peeled Asian pear into the mixture, avoiding the core and seeds.
  5. Using your hands, squeeze out as much liquid as possible from the cabbage, and add to the other ingredients.  Toss the mixture well, and let marinate about 1 hour at room temperature.  The kimchi is now ready to serve, but will keep about 1 month in the refrigerator, and will increase in pungency as it sits.