I’m really looking forward to my lunch today. It’s the same kind of lunch i’ve been eating lately, tofu stir fry of sorts with either rice vermicelli or glass noodles (i’m on a tofu stir fry kick these days). But what makes me drool in anticipation is the side of kimchee i brought along.
Okay so – i love kimchee. My introduction to kimchee was pretty late in life: I was 27 and living in Savannah and most definitely a dirt poor college student. My neighbors and i would go down to the chinese buffet somewhere near the corner of Abercorn and Victory Drive (i can’t remember exactly) because it was cheap and we could fill up and not be hungry for the rest of the day. As it turns out, the people who owned the place weren’t chinese- they were korean. And they had a cucumber kimchee on their buffet which i absolutely loved and craved and would request whole plates of.
I’m particular about my kimchee. I feel grossly sacrilegious in admitting this, but I dont like it overly fish-saucy. It’s not that i have an aversion to fish sauce. I see its necessity and understand that it brings a savoriness to a dish you can’t get with salt or soy alone. But when i’m following a recipe that calls for it, i usually halve the amount requested. I just dont want my whole dish to taste like rotted fermented fish. So when i saw bobby flay make the following recipe on one of his shows a few years back (sans fish sauce), i made it and could hardly wait one whole day to go by without diving into it. it is very addictive and spicy. And i know that we’re probably breaking some culinary law about not using fish sauce, but hey.
Maybe i’m just buying the wrong brand of fish sauce? I mean, shit, the Super H has a whole aisle of it. i am bewitched by the bottles full of little itty bitty fish with gleaming eyes, but i know deep down it’ll probably be far too fishy for me. What the hell is wrong with my taste buds? If i could just find the perfect fish sauce, i’d be a happy kimchee eatin’ fool.
Anyway, here’s bobby flay’s version of kimchee which has me all hot and bothered today. The recipe calls for the cabbage to be finely shredded, but i prefer to cut it into larger chunks, since it wilts down to next to nothing anyway (if you can keep your grubby hands off of it long enough to wilt – i sure can’t).
1 head Napa cabbage, finely shredded
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup red chili flakes, plus more to taste
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Salt and pepper
Place cabbage and green onions in a large bowl. In a blender, combine vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, chili flakes, and sugar, blending until smooth. With the motor running, slowly add the oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the dressing over the cabbage and gently toss. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 3 days before serving to let the cabbage wilt and the flavors meld.