I’ve done a good job at avoiding the kitchen for two weeks, but I think it’s time I start working those hot plates! I’ve started to become a little homesick for Korean food, most likely sparked by a confrontation with a harsh old man who told my friend and I never to come back to his store. There was nothing wrong that we did, unless browsing through books in a bookstore is a crime here! I guess I need to learn more about the French service industry, obviously, the customer is not always right! It was about time I start craving for some rice anyway. After all, I am Asian.
I had the most fun making these three appetizers because I found them interesting and new. Each dish was an interpretation of something more familiar. I thought they would provide an element of surprise and intrigue to the diners. I can’t take credit for creating these dishes, but I think I did a good job executing them, because they were a hit!
One of my favorite beverages is the citron tea, or yujacha, 유자차. It’s different from regular teas because it is not brewed from dried leaves but from a marmalade like syrup. The citron is a very unique fruit because it is rarely, if ever, eaten peeled. The pulp is dry and little in proportion to the amount of pith and peel. However, it is a very fragrant and nutritional fruit. Many Koreans drink it during the winter months because it is an excellent source of Vitamin C and is also believed to be a natural source of antibiotics. When a cold is caught, instead of orange juice, Koreans give the advise to drink some citron tea.
The kimchi is done! It took two full days to complete, but if I were to do it myself, I think it would’ve taken weeks. Experiencing the whole process really made me appreciate kimchi in a whole new way. It’s such a standard presence on my dinner table, that I don’t think I’ve ever really given it a second thought. But that’s exactly why kimchi is so important, because I eat it everyday. To know where all the ingredients came from and how much preparation went into it makes you enjoy it more. I found it really impressive how authentic and culturally intact each part was. All the ingredients were local, seasonal, and all the methods used could have been seen 100, 300, 500 years ago. Well, maybe except the mandolin we used to cut the radishes. That probably cut three days worth of work to two.
In theory, this batch is supposed to last one year, so you can imagine how much of everything we needed (we’re talking restaurant kitchen proportions). No recipe was used and I lost count after 50 cabbage heads, that I’ll let the photos do the rest of the talking.
It’s kimchi season right now, which means many Korean families will be making enormous amounts of that famous spicy fermented cabbage. We’re in the middle of making our own right now, and I must say, it is quite a fete. I can see why many families forego the whole ordeal and just buy some at the supermarket. It’s not only a long process, but we’re dealing with pounds and pounds of cabbage, more than you would believe you’d eat in a lifetime. However, nothing beats food made at home. There’s that love and trust that is absent elsewhere.