How to make a REAL DEAL napa cabbage kimchi with Seonkyung Longest

Kimchi is the heart and soul of Korean food. It's a healthy, all-natural superfood full of antioxidants, vitamins and probiotic bacteria. It's also a great side dish not only for Korean food, but for eggs, tacos, hot dogs, bloody mary's and even ______ (use your imagination to fill in the blank).

These days it's becoming easier to find kimchi at places like Whole Foods or natural food stores. There are a number of great products out there including the artisanal Mama O's Premium Kimchi

But nothing beats homemade. You just can't get the same funky flavor profiles, crunchy textures, raw freshness and soul satisfying 'je ne sais quoi' from a commercial product. Those of us lucky enough to grow up in a Korean household, know nothing beats mom's kimchi.

But alas there is a way to experience authentic kimchi from the comfort of your own home. We're going to warn you, this recipe takes time & dedication, and is not for the faint of heart. It even starts with a dashima (kombu), dried pollack and shiitake broth (HARDCORE).  If you're looking for a REAL kimchi that tastes great and would make any Korean mom proud, check out the recipe from our good friend and Tiger Ambassador Seonkyung Longest below. 

 

 

 

Korean Napa Cabbage Kimchi 

INGREDIDENTS

Salted Cabbage:
3 cups Kosher or flake sea salt
3 Large size Napa Cabbages, about 10 lb, quartered
24 cups Room temperature water

Kimchi Paste:
2 1/4 cup water
4 oz. Dried pollack (approximately 1/4 cup)
1 Sheet of 5”x 5” Dried seaweed ASA Konbu or Dashima
1 Dried shiitake
1/4 cup Sweet rice flour
1 1/4 cup Good quality fish sauce
3 Tbs. Korean salted shrimp (Saewoo-Jeot. You can substitute to Thai fermented shrimp paste)
1 Tbs. Sugar
1 Tbs. Sea salt
25 Garlic cloves (approximately 2/3 cup)
1 Thumb size ginger, sliced (approximately 1 1/2 Tbs.)
1/2 Onion, quartered (approximately 1cup)
1 Apple, quartered & seeded (approximately 1 1/2 cup)
3 to 5 Red chili, roughly sliced (approximately 1 1/2 cup)
3 cups Gochugaru, Korean red pepper flakes

Kimchi Filling Vegetables:
1 Medium size Korean radish, thinly julienne (approximately 8 cups)
6 to 8 Green onions, cut in halves lengthwise then cut into 1” long pieces (approximately 2 1/2 cup)

Optional choices of Vegetables:
1 bunch of Korean mustard, cut into 1” long pieces (approximately 4 cups)
1 bunch Water parsley(water celery Minari), cut into 1” long pieces (approximately 2 cups)
1 bunch Garlic chive, cut into 1” long pieces (approximately 2 cups)

 

For the full recipe visit Asian At Home with Seonkyung Longest.

How to Eat Korean BBQ (Like a Korean)

Korean BBQ is taking the country by storm, one smokey, garlic-y grill at a time. Whether you're a kalbi-crushing aficionado or a rookie just getting your feet wet, here's the lowdown. And tips to make you look like you know what you're doing.

 

What to Expect

The Korean BBQ experience is far different from other types of "BBQ" (Southern, backyard etc). The star of the show is the meat -- different types, cuts, marinated vs non-marinated -- that is cooked table-side, right in front of your face. If you have yet to try it, call up some friends and pick a place -- you're in for a culinary treat. Note: wear clothes you don't mind reeking of smoke afterwards. 

  

1. How to order

First select the type of meat (moo, oink, cock-a-doodle-doo, quack quack). It's a good idea to start with non-marinated cuts first, then move on to their richer, marinated brethren. For beginners, you can't go wrong with the blue chips -- samgyupsal (pork belly) or marinated kalbi (rib eye). 

In most joints, you order based on the number of people. 4 people = 4 orders of meat (which you can split into two samgyupsal, two kalbi). 

PRO TIP: If you're looking for the true Korean experience, order a hearty stew or noodle dish for after the meal. Doenjang chigae (miso-based stew with vegetables) or bibim naengmyun (spicy, cold buckwheat noodles) are sure fire bets. Think of the meat as the 1st course and the entrees as a 2nd course to fill you up. You can order a few to share. Throw in a side of rice as well, since it's usually not included. Lastly, pair it with a bottle of the green stuff (soju) or light and refreshing Korean lagers and you are good to go.

 

 

2. Fill up on banchan 

Now that the hard work is out of the way, you can enjoy the fruit (err veggies) of your labor. The server will assemble an army of small plates at your table. The banchan (share plates) are different at every restaurant, but you can usually find pickled or lightly seasoned vegetables, assorted kimchi and small seafood or meat dishes. Dig in, because it's all free (included with the meal) and you get unlimited refills (YMMV).

 

3. Hurry up and wait

At most respectable KBBQ spots, a server will come to your table and operate the grill (do the dirty work). Don't expect hibachi style theatrics. Their job is to cook the meat to temp, flip it (just enough) and give you the green light. You'll be lucky if you can crack a smile out of 'em :).  As you wait, knock back a few shots of soju and commemorate with your fellow diners (keep the iPhones in your pockets people).

 

4. Game time

After your server gives you the thumbs up, it's time to dig in! For your first bites of meat, we recommend transporting the meat (with your burgeoning chopsticks skills), and lightly dipping it into the sauce on your table. The most common sauce is called ssamjang, a combination of miso, gochuchang (red chili paste), garlic, vinegar and sugar. You might also see a sesame oil sauce or salt and pepper. Sampling the goods with minimal sauce lets you experience the pure, ephemeral essence of the meat. Blabbety blah blah. Once you're ready to crank up the flavors, assemble your first Ssam-bomb.

 

 

5. Enter the Ssam-bomb

To build a Ssam-bomb (we made up the term but its really what every Korean does), take a leaf of lettuce (ssam). Break it in half so it's about the size of your palm. Place the leaf in one hand, then using your other hand, put one piece of meat on top of the lettuce. Then layer on some grilled garlic, seasoned scallion and the ssamjang sauce. Lastly, wrap the leaf into a little ball, and pop it in your mouth. Don't be a wuss, and finish it in one bite.

 

 

6. Max out on entrees

If you ordered entrees, they will hit your table about halfway through your meat-a-palooza. Take down the stews, noodles or rice dishes while you chip away at the meat on the grill. Just a note, many Korean dishes are served family style so when sharing stews, its proper etiquette to make sure your spoon or chopsticks are completely clean before hitting the communal bowls.

PRO TIP: If you order marinated kalbi and naengmyun, wrap a piece of kalbi in naengmyun for a sweet, salty, hot and cold umami tsunami.

7. Close out and make room for dessert (optional)

Even after a heavy and hearty meal, many Koreans will go to a nearby cafe for coffee & dessert or local bar for round 2. It doesn't matter if you're bursting at the seams -- meals and nights out are just as much about hanging with your friends & fam as they are about the eats. Typical dessert orders include pat bing soo (shaved ice with red bean) or assorted Korean pastries. After dessert, think about good spots for a round 3. The rest we'll leave to you.

 

 

We hope you enjoyed this culinary journey via the interwebs. This particular KBBQ adventure took place at one of our favorite restaurants, Hahm Ji Bach in Flushing, Queens. For a full list of great KBBQ spots in New York, check out our Top 10 Korean BBQ Joints in NYC.

 

 

Words and photos by Arthur Shim.

KimchiTiger x Columbia KSA Collaboration Tee

We're pleased to present to you the first (of many) KimchiTiger collaboration tees. The Columbia Korean Students Association came to us looking for a fun and unique way to unify its body of undergrad students. We worked with the group to create a custom, hand-drawn tee based on the word 가족 (family). In case you aren't familiar, family is an important element of Korean culture. Beyond the nuclear family, Koreans place a strong emphasis on filial piety (respecting your elders) and the needs of the group over the individual. 

The design was printed on a super soft, slim fitting, tri-blend t-shirt. And best of all, $1 from every shirt was donated to our partner charity, Liberty in North Korea.

Hit us up at info@kimchitiger.com for your next t-shirt project!

10 Things You Didn't Know About Kimchi

Kimchi is to Korea as apple pie is to America. In recent years, Korea’s quintessential food, has made an appearance in more and more restaurants, recipes, tv shows, supermarkets and even local bodegas. We all know (and love) kimchi for its spicy, salty, sour, crunchy and healthy goodness. But did you know that...

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  • 10. Kimchi is not always made with cabbage
  • When most people hear the word kimchi, they think of spicy, red-orange shards of napa cabbage, packed in a jar that smells like your roommate's gym socks. Contrary to popular belief, napa cabbage is only one of many different kinds of kimchi. There are over 100 known varieties, but the most common ones include kkakduki (spicy radish), oi sobagi (cucumber), bossam (rolled kimchi) and chonggak (young radish). Kimchi also refers to a process of fermenting vegetables (similar to the pickling process in the States).

     

  • 9. There's a time and a place for each kimchi
  • Kimchi is both a seasonal and regional food. Koreans consume different types of kimchi throughout the different seasons of the year. For example, pa kimchi (green onions) in the spring, oi sobagi (cucumber) in the summer, napa cabbage in the fall and dongchimi (raddish water kimchi) in the winter. Each region of Korea also has it's own version of kimchi - for example in the food capital of Korea, Jeonju, the kimchis tend to have stronger flavors due to the heavy use of fish sauce and seafood. Bossam kimchi's are usually reserved for special occasions, whereas napa cabbage kimchi can be found on the dinner table every night. Certain kimchis also pair better with certain foods, like kkakdugi with seol lung tang.


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  • 8. Kimchi's closest (European) relative is sauerkraut
  • Sauerkraut is shredded cabbage that is brined and fermented just like it's Korean counterpart. Because of the process and live cultures, it shares a similar sourness and pungency. Early Korean immigrants to the US would often eat sauerkraut to get their fix. Just like 'kraut, kimchi also tastes great on hot dogs (as popularized by Roy Choi's Kogi truck and Asia Dog in NYC). These days even Martha Stewart has a recipe.

     

  • 7. Kimchi can help cure diseases like SARS and the bird flu
  • Kimchi is a super food chock full of antioxidants, vitamins A, B, and C and most importantly healthy probiotic bacteria. Research has shown that the particular strain, lactobillus kimchi (aptly named), may even have anti-cancer properties. It has also been suggested to boost resistance to the H1N1 Avian Flu in birds and humans. Some go as far as to suggest it can prevent ebola! Research has also shown that kimchi can prevent heart disease and diabetes, as well as boost overall physiological function. 

     

  • 6. Most kimchis are NOT vegetarian or vegan
  • Despite being heavily touted by vegetarians or vegans alike as a great flavorful addition of their diet, kimchi is not always vegetarian. In fact the OG kimchis were made with just cabbage and beef stock. Today most variations of kimchi are made with fermented anchovy or shrimp pastes -- the glutamic acid found in fish products gives kimchi it's savory flavor. However recently kimchi makers have started producing vegan options to meet modern consumer demand.

     

  • 5. Kimchi was almost illegal by the New York City Department of Health
  • Okay, maybe outlawed may be too strong a word, but in 2011 when the NYC DOH started handing out grades to restaurants for health and sanitation, Korean restaurants were penalized for leaving kimchi out at room temperature resulting in the kimchi rising above the DOH’s 41 degree fahrenheit standard for “cold foods”. Korean restaurateurs reasoned with the DOH that kimchi is unrefrigerated during the fermentation process, but was also below the 4.6 pH required for foods to be unrefrigerated. Eventually the DOH relented to pressure from Korean restaurateurs to make an exemption for kimchi. Phew!

     

  • 4. Kimchi was invented because there were no refrigerators
  • In the 12th century, crafty Koreans developed a system of salting and fermenting vegetables to preserve them for winter. Every autumn, families would gather together to do a kimjang, a communal kimchi preparation ritual. Each family would contribute ingredients and share the laborious process of salting, cutting, mixing and prepparing kimchi so they would have fresh vegetables through the winter.

     

  • 3. Many Koreans have a special, separate kimchi fridge
  • Koreans have such a fondness for kimchi that they have special kimchi refrigerators. Traditionally kimchi was prepared and stored in large clay pots that were buried in the ground. As archaic as it sounds, this process yielded extremely consistent temperatures and an environment ripe for fermentation and preservation. Koreans today now employ technology to  do the same. Kimchi refrigerators (often going for $1500+) hold a consistent temperature that emulates a clay pot being buried in the ground. They also prevent the funky smell from cross-contaminating other goods in the fridge. Anyone who has drank milk stored in same refrigerator as kimchi will tell you how necessary a kimchi fridge truly is.

     

  • 2. The first type of kimchi was not spicy at all
  • Kimchi roots date back to 7th century AD, but it was not until the 18th century that kimchi found it’s signature reddish color. It was also not until the 1800s that kimchi got it’s signature spicy flavor (although many non spicy variations are popular today). The red pepper was not introduced to Korea until the Japanese invasion of 1592 and was not used until over 200 years later. The red pepper was brought to Korea all the way from the Americas. America, f*** yeah!

     

  • 1. Kimchi was sent into space
  • Wherever there are Koreans, there is kimchi. When South Korean troops were sent to fight in Vietnam, the South Korean government sent kimchi to the front lines. Not surprisingly, when South Korea prepared its first space mission in 2008, kimchi tagged along. Scientists were interested in how the bacteria in kimchi would react to the radiation and cosmic rays in space. They were also intrigued by how fellow astronauts would respond to the smell in the confined spaces of the International Space Station. As a result, the South Korean government spent millions to reduce the bacteria levels and smell by as much as 50%. As a result, Korean scientists uncovered new truths about the fermentation process, and learned how to slow down the fermentation process--  which in turn allowed kimchi to be shipped worldwide for us to enjoy.

     

    We hope you learned at least one new fun fact about kimchi. Now go out and get your garlic breath on!

     

     

    Words by Jay Lee.

    Launch Party Recap

    We can't thank our friends, family and fans enough for coming out to our inaugural Launch Party on September 4. Over 120 people showed up for a fun-filled evening of good eats, giveaways and games.

    Chef Esther Choi (the host with the most) of mokbar put together an incredible sampling menu featuring a cold ramen salad, bibimboppers (deep fried bibimbop rice balls stuffed with cheese and served with a kimchi bechamel sauce), mini Korean hot dogs, topped with bacon and chilis as well as her version of tteokbuki (crispy rice cakes in a spicy gochujang sauce).

    We gave away a ton of gear (one of each shirt), 3 different kinds of artisanal kimchi, animal themed iPhone cases (from our friends at Anicase) and much more. And we even had Korean food trivia.

    Thanks to everyone for making the event a huge success. We had a blast meeting and hanging with all of you and can't wait to see you soon.

     

    Photos by Chao An Gao and Eunice Lee.