Tuesday, May 30, 2006

all creatures great and spicy

If shannon didn't have quite such a good turn of phrase i might not take her berating so seriously. But here she is reminding me that i have a blogging public and making me feel all guilty about neglecting you all... And if that wasn't enough she told me there's a blogging explosion and I'm missing out. If guilt wasn't enough of a motivating force, fomo* sure is.

If I’ve been absent it’s only because I’m confused. It seems even this kind of vague and constantly qualified writing requires some sense of certainty and that, I just don't have.

But for now, let me tell you about my pets. Darling Satan (my cat) may still be with his foster family but since I've taken on my house's obsession for preserving I have a whole little menagerie to look after.

There's the sourdough starter, he likes to be fed rye flour every day and given a good belly scratch (ok, just a stir really). Then there's the sprouts (millet and rye berries at the moment) - they need a little wash every day. Out the back black olives are happily swimming in their bucket but they like their water changed every second day. And this weekend I started a new pet – little kim chi! She’s pretty low maintenance but I think it’s good to check in on her every few days or she might get sulky and go mouldy.

Adam inspired me to try my own kim chi because I totally scoffed the batch he made a couple of weeks ago – delicious. So here’s a quick recipe, because kim chi is the bestus most delicious thing ever. And it stops you getting bird flu.

For a ridiculously big batch you’ll need some ingredients roughly like this:

  • 2 big heads chinese cabbage (wom bok)
  • 1 large daikon radish
  • 1 carrot
  • ginger to taste
  • chillis - 3 small ones?
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 onion

You can also add spring onions, jerusalem artichokes, celery or whatever you have around.

You'll need good big jar, crock or bucket. Leftover catering supply buckets from a deli or cafĂ© are good because they’re made of food grade plastic

  • Chop your cabbage and daikon up - big chunks is fine.
  • Now make a brine with 3 tablespoons of salt and a litre or so of water - just boil, dissolve and let it cool.
  • Cover the cabbage and daikon with the brine. Press it down with a plate and a weight to keep it submerged. If you're using a jar wedge something in the top to keep your goodies underwater.
  • Leave overnight or for a few hours. Drain the brine off but keep it somewhere.
  • Taste your cabbage - it should be softened a little and salty. We want noticeably salty but not grossly so. If it's not salty sprinkle a little salt on, if it's too salty soak in fresh water for a couple of hours before you continue.
  • Slice the carrot and onion, crush the garlic and ginger and chillies and mix them all together with the cabbage and daikon.
  • Put back in your container and squish it down real hard with your weight – I use a big 4 litre jar filled with water on top of the plate. Brine and juices should come out to cover it all. Leave it for a few hours as more brine will come out. If it’s still not covered add a little of the reserved brine.
  • Stick your weight back on and cover with a cotton bag or something to keep flies out.
  • Wait. The kimchi should be ready in 3 to 10 days depending on the weather. Stir the brine on top occassionally to keep mould from forming. Make sure all the bits are submerged and taste regularly so it doesn’t get sulky.

Ok, so that’s a bit of a basic recipe done from memory. Hopefully it makes enough sense to follow. The thing is, kim chi is one of my favourite things but i never thought i could actually make it. Turns out it's really simple. It even tastes good after a day when it's just lightly pickled. Also if it does taste a little fizzy after a while don't worry, that's just the bacteria getting active and it will actually taste better again a few days later when they die off.

For an even simpler method you can see this site which has very endearing photos. I didn’t know that in korea they have kim chi gloves for mixing the chilli through.

*fomo - fear of missing out. as in "i didn't go to the party last weekend and i had the worst case of fomo."


shannon said...

dear esther,

do you ever bake cupcakes? do you think they are lame? i have a particular need to bake them in about a month (no comment on my reason - you won't approve) and want to get some practice in. any recipe suggestions?

shannon xx

esther said...

Dear shannon,
Yes I do bake cupcakes. I do not think they are lame at all. They are simply delightful. Easy to transport, no knives or plates required and people always enjoy the childhood regression thing. I think the only lame thing about them is how they are all trendy again - possibly Sex and the City related.

Generally I just use a good cake recipe - it's all about watching the baking time carefully. I have used the chocolate guiness cake recipe for cupcakes with success. Also the pie queen's devil's food cupcakes are damn good.

Hmm, they are both chocolate.. maybe I will go look up my 10 minute cupcake recipe and do a whole post on cupcakes soon.

xx esther

ps - why won't i approve? is it wooing a pretty lady? that's always good. unless....

shannon said...

dear esther,

thank you very much. i will begin the practice. any further posting will be gratefully received. there is a cupcake shop in sydney, have you been? i can't remember where it is exactly, somewhere in the city. my memory of it is somewhat obscured by the occasion the trip was marking. i didn't know there was a sex and the city cupcake thing... how did you know this?

thank you again xx

ps - you clearly know what the purpose is. i'll make you a deal - let's never speak of it again. well, the cupcakes, but not the purpose. hurrah!

esther said...

well i think in Sex and the City they were often seen eating the cupcakes from the Magnolia Bakery in the west village. So I blamed that for the coolness of cupcakes. Don't ask how I know.

maybe not though.. maybe it's part of a broader societal swing back to the "safe and happy" days of the 50s before fancy cakes and dangerous queers and people with different religions and stuff..

As for your unapproved of baking purpose... Does posting about it count as mentioning it again? Oops.

Is the Sydney place good? Maybe you can't remember.


shannon said...

dear esther,

the sydney place is good, yes, from memory. although the cupcakes are too big and the icing too rich, but sometimes that's what you want from a cupcake... perhaps you should try it for yourself next time you visit. claire pettigrew knows where it is.

sometimes i watch sex and the city too. xx