On my first visit to Chelsea Market in New York City I fell in love. Hard, fast, and true. I officially had a new favorite spot in this hustlin’ bustlin’ town – said no one ever who lives there, the words hustlin’ and bustlin’.
It was the beginning of winter; patrons were adorned with coats and hats looking for a warm beverage or perhaps a crepe to warn off the brisk chill of the air. On this trip I learned what gale and blustery means, though I admit I am still confused because cold is cold and windy cold is worse – – but I wear the same thing for both. So much to learn. In my small town simple mind the people of New York in the winter always look sophisticated; and those meandering through the corridor of Chelsea Market are just the same.
I was visiting my dear and best friend, Lauren who has lived in Manhattan for eight years. PS Florida misses you deeply. The atmosphere among the energetic shoppers and amazing craftsman of Chelsea Market was contagious. I felt like I could stay for hours on end. My husband and I purchased our first home just before my NY visit. Lauren, who we sweetly refer to as Lowe, sent us a thoughtful housewarming gift:
I am still overjoyed! I love this cookbook and all the memories it solicits from my first (and currently only) visit to Chelsea Market.
While we were there I also tried kimchi for the first time. I knew it was supposed to be really good for you and foodies all around the country rave about it. Seems as though everyone is on the train of healing from your gut. I am definitely on the train for whatever helps us to be more aware of the foods we use to nourish our bodies. Fermented food such as kimchi act as probiotics for the gut. Kimchi has been consumed by Koreans for years and the art of making kimchi is just that, an art. A part of the fermenting process was to bury it in dirt and dig it up a few days later. Kimchi has an awesome shelf life. I had read in some articles that kimchi can last up to 6 months refrigerated and on Mother-in-Law’s website up to 12 months! The kimchi I sampled in Chelsea Market was spicy, salty, and oh so delicious.
When Lauren sent us this cookbook, low and behold the spicy kimchi recipe was in there! I had to try it. Just had to.
Little did I know all the ingredients that went into this punchy little slaw, how stinky it would smell while I made it, and that I couldn’t convince my husband (who also smelled ALL the things) to try it. Haha! Hopefully I am not committing the ultimate blogger sin by writing and posting about this experience. On the other hand I feel it is important to be authentic about the recipes and journeys that I post.
I was actually feeling a little down about the turn out. As I just mentioned, I wasn’t sure if I should post about this experience. The kimchi in Chelsea Market was so delicious. I tried my homemade kimchi on a few occasions however was only able to tolerate a small bite. My mind immediately went back to the fish sauce and fermented shrimp that I pulverized in the food processor and the scent that wafted down the hallway. So glad I have y’all on board to try this now! Stay with me….
All it took was one positive comment from one coworker to get me back into writing this post. I gifted one jar to my in-laws who also felt it was too “fishy” and while they had tried it with their scrambled eggs couldn’t really rally behind this particular kimchi. To be fair, the other statement they made was that perhaps kimchi was just an acquired taste. Okay, I agree with that…but I like it at Chelsea Market and now I can only have a wee bit of the one I made?! A few weeks after making it, I ended up taking my second and last jar of kimchi to the break room refrigerator at work. I wrote a post-it note “Spicy Kimchi – feel free to try, take home, and give me your feedback!” Risky. But I went for it.
Turns out, as the kimchi had stayed in my refrigerator it continued to ferment and sweeten. It was a HUGE hit! And when I say huge hit I would like to refer back to that one co-worker comment. He used to work and frequent Michael’s Genuine which is quite possibly the best restaurant my husband and I ever went to while we were living in South Florida. My co-worker shared with me the delicious taste of kimchi that Michael himself would make, of course Michael was way ahead of the food trend, and he (my co-worker) LOVED this kimchi recipe!!!! I was ecstatic. Made my month…that’s right. Not day, week, MONTH!
Here is the recipe as it exists in the cookbook for you to try and below the whole recipe you will find the modification that I made. Because as all of you know…or if you don’t go back and read my previous posts, I can’t follow a recipe. My modifications will be listed at the end of the original recipe. Hoping to hear back from you, your thoughts, taste buds, nostrils, and how the experience of making kimchi was!
MOKBAR by Esther Choi
Serving Size: about 8 cups
- 2 heads of Napa cabbage, 3 1/2 pounds, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 cup koser salt
- 2 T sweet rice flour
- 1/2 cup fish sauce
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup fermented shrimp paste
- 8 cloves garlic
- 1 inch of fresh ginger, peeled
- 1 onion, quartered
- 1 apple pear, peeled, quartered, and cored
- 1 1/2 – 2 cups Korean chile flakes
- 2 medium leeks, whites only, washed and cut into 2 inch pieces
- 1 medium daikon radish, cut into 2 inch matchsticks
- 1 bunch of scallions, cut into 2 inch pieces
When I made this I halved the recipe, used regular cabbage, radish coins (still cut into matchsticks), a Granny Smith apple instead of the apple pear, and I still used 1 1/2 cups of chile flakes.
Place the cabbage in a large bowl and toss with 4 cups water and the salt. Let sit for 2 hours, tossing the cabbage every 30 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water, and gently pat dry to remove any excess moisture.
Dissolve the rice flour in 1/3 cup water to form a paste. In a small saucepan, bring 3/4 cup water to a boil over medium heat, whisk in the paste, and reduce the head to medium-low. Cook for 3-5 minutes, whisking continuously, until the liquid has thickened to a ribbonlike consistency (think Elmer’s glue) and you can see the bottom of the pan while whisking. Set aside to cool.
In a food processor with the knife blade attached, combine the fish sauce, sugar, shrimp paste, garlic, ginger, onion, and apple pear and pulse until smooth. Pour the mixture into a large bowl and then mix in the rice paste and and chile flakes until smooth. This will be the kimchi sauce base. In a large bowl, mix the leeks, daikon, and scallions with the kimchi sauce base. Add the cabbage and gently toss all the ingredients together until fully incorporated, making sure not to bruise the cabbage.
Notice the white grocery bag in the background (L)? Every time I cook I keep a bag on the counter while I am cooking so that I can easily toss scraps or packaging without having to go back and forth to the trashcan.
Tightly pack the kimchi into lidded glass jars or containers with tight-fitting lids, or cover tightly with plastic wrap making sure none of the solids are exposed to the air. Tightly packed kimchi will ferment faster and more evenly. Place the kimchi on a tray (do not skip this step!) or each jar on an indivudal plate and allow it to sit at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, for at least two days, or longer if you desire a stronger flavor. Refrigerate until ready to use. Unless the kimchi is bubbling over (hence why it is important to place the jar on a plate or tray) resist the urge to open the jars, as this will affect the fermentation process.
I found this soap particularly helpful for the seafood smell!