Making kimchi while living in a fixer upper construction zone was a bit challenging, but so worth the labor of love!
Well, we finally got a stove at this point in our renovations. We also had an Instant Pot before we got the stove, which was a lifesaver! The stove we added is temporary as we would love to get a vintage stove from the 1930’s. And that would be the center piece in the kitchen.
Not bad that we only went about a half a year without a stove. Guess it depends on who you ask! We were able to adapt and basically pretend like we were camping in our home.
We also had our cast iron sink set up and I loved being able to finally use it! It was perfect for making kimchi in and on without having counter space or anything to really place ingredients on.
This is what it’s like cooking in a kitchen when we are completely under construction! Drywall and all!
One of the first things I really wanted to cook and prepare was Korean food! It had been way too long without the homemade stuff so I was determined to make it happen! You will see that even a simple kitchen in a construction zone didn’t stop us.
KOREAN CUBED RADISH KIMCHI (SPICY)
The first thing I tackled was to make Korean cubed radish kimchi, which is made with Korean radish or turnip. However you want to call it.
I also took out some frozen beef to thaw out to make Korean traditional rice cake soup with beef to go with the kimchi. This soup is always served during the New Year for Koreans. I grew up eating it almost every New Year’s Day or at least at our Korean American church around the first of the year. The white round rice cake (which is not sweet despite being called cake and is actually savory) from what I understand represents prosperity for the new year.
To start the cubed radish kimchi, I peeled the skin off the radishes and then cut them into cubes. Then I added some Korean sea salt, but you can also use kosher salt, and some coconut sugar, but you can also use regular sugar. I would mix this all together and let the salt draw the water from the radish and create a wonderful sweet and savory broth to then use back in as a part of the seasoning.
After draining the salty brine or broth, I added a few more ingredients to the radish such as garlic, ginger, Korean red pepper flakes, garlic chives (usually you would use green onion), tamari (normally you would use soy sauce or fish sauce or both), and finally some of the broth from the radishes. Then I would mix it all together.
I don’t really like to follow recipes exactly and just mostly go by what I know or was taught, with maybe some inspiration only from recipes I search for online. My mom never used recipes and just tasted as she prepared any dish. That’s usually the Korean mom way of cooking that I grew up with.
As you mix and taste, you can readjust the flavors. So in our case, I added more Korean red pepper flakes because we like our kimchi really spicy and savory. These are not the normal red pepper flakes you can find in most American grocery stores. And definitely not the kind you put on pizza!
As I mixed and tasted the flavors, the wonderful pop of garlic and ginger were amazing.
KIMCHI WITH RICE CAKE SOUP
We ended up eating some of this freshly made radish kimchi with our rice cake soup. It was incredible with savory rice cakes, strips of beef, green onion, egg, and seaweed. Then we fermented the rest of the kimchi for a day or so before putting them in the fridge.
TRADITIONAL KOREAN KIMCHI (SPICY)
Then I moved on to making regular traditional Korean kimchi. This one is a real labor of love and could take up to a whole day to make depending on how much you decide to ferment.
Here are the steps that I normally follow in a nutshell.
- Cut the napa cabbage in half at the top, but not all the way through
- Then rip the cabbage apart to form two halves
- Submerge them into water and then shake them off as dry as possible
- Then make a cut in the top part of the cabbage only and rip it apart into quarters
- Salt each of the cabbage leaves and let it wilt for a few hours
- Add homemade kimchi paste to each of the leaves
- Roll it up and place tightly in a glass jar
- Stack each quarter tightly in the jar avoiding any space or air in between
Well, here we were making kimchi while living in a fixer upper construction zone! There were definitely some challenges doing this, but we were really craving Korean food! So, we just made it happen and it was well worth the labor of love to make.
What are homemade comfort foods you crave or can’t go without?
They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
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Thanks for joining us on this journey! We hope that you will find inspiration watching us learn as we go while we’re attempting to renovate and rebuild this old small historic cottage mostly on our own. Stay tuned for more progress updates ahead!
You can also watch a video about this here.
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