Thursday, 4 July 2019

Are You Korean? So I Made Kimchi

The other day while I was placing my order at Fujisawa@The Starling, the cashier finally plucked up enough courage to ask me "Are you Korean?". I get that a lot. 

My partner is not spared either. He get's "Is she Korean?"  every now and then. When that happens, he will tell me "I think somewhere along the line, one of your ancestors was naughty". Eh? Blame my ancestors pulak. Maybe the Korean was naughty. Haiz....

Since the K-craze is still a thing, perhaps I should take the "Are you Korean?" as a compliment heh...heh....heh...

Now what could be more Korean than kimchi? In fact the Koreans even have a kimchi fridge to store kimchi. So to channel my inner Korean, I made kimchi. Hah!

How many people here don't like kimchi? Hands up, hands up! I am one of you. I mean, I eat kimchi when it is served at Korean restaurants. But I don't enjoy it. You won't find me asking for refills, that's for sure.

But suddenly I like kimchi. How's that? Well, I went to Qing He Gu a couple of days ago for my Korean fix. I love Korean food. 

As usual, among the banchan, there will be kimchi. It's like a compulsory thing on the Korean dining table. So I ate it. And I liked it.

I found it savory and pleasant with none of that sour pungent taste that I disliked. Really good eaten with rice. Then I remembered another time when I enjoyed kimchi at BBQ Ma Eul Cup Bap

I have been following Maangchi lately on Youtube and I have watched her making kimchi. From there I learnt that there is such a thing as fresh kimchi, the non-fermented kind. Ah! Maybe that's what I would really like, something like a salad. 

Besides, making this kimchi would give me the opportunity to use the the Korean hot pepper flakes which I have in my pantry.

Maangchi calls this "Emergency Kimchi" because it is kimchi that can be made quickly and easily (like if you are stuck in Mexico) or if you can't find napa cabbage (she used regular cabbage).

Traditional authentic kimchi is very time consuming to make - right from preparation (you need to make a porridge mixture and coat every leaf with it) to the fermentation process. 

This one is a blast, you salt the napa cabbage for something like 10 minutes and toss it in a paste made with hot pepper flakes, sugar, fish sauce, minced garlic and chopped spring onions. 

It can be eaten right away or if you want it to ferment you can leave it at room temperature for a few days. Nope, I won't do that because I am very happy with this fresh kimchi. It is delicious and it is something that I won't mind making time and again.

Although the napa cabbage can be salted in just 10 minutes, I chose longer salting at 30 minutes to extract more water from the cabbage so that my kimchi will be less watery.

But a word of warning. If you kept this in the fridge for a couple of days, it will ferment. That was my experience. On day 2, it took on that sour pungent smell and taste but somehow, maybe because I made this myself, I liked it.

So it is best to make small portions, enough for one sitting.

Emergency Kimchi (Yangbaechu-kimchi)
Recipe source : Adapted from Maangchi

Ingredients :
- 700g napa cabbage (my one whole napa cabbage weighed approximately this)
- 1 heaped tablespoon sea salt
- 250ml water

Kimchi paste (mix together) :
- 3 tbsp Korean hot pepper flakes
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 6 large cloves garlic, minced (I used garlic press)
- 4 stalks spring onions, sliced

Method :
1. Cut the napa cabbage into quarters lengthwise. Remove the hard core.
2.  Then cut each quarter into thin strips and cut each strip into thirds.
3. Put the cut napa cabbage into a large bowl and add salt and water.
4. Using your hands, toss the cabbage strips with the salt and water. Let stand for 30 minutes, tossing every 10 minutes.
5. At the end of 30 minutes, you will find that the cabbage has wilted and released lots of water. Wash and rinse the cabbage about two or three times and drain. 
6. While the cabbage is draining, make the kimchi paste by mixing the hot pepper flakes, sugar, fish sauce, garlic and spring onions in a large bowl.
7. Add the drained cabbage and using your hands, mix the cabbage thoroughly with the paste.
8. Can be served immediately or kept in the fridge for 3-4 days.

Note : I noticed that on day 2 in the fridge, it fermented and was sourish and pungent.


  1. First of all, getting a comment that you look anything other than Chinese is a compliment already. Who cares if your ancestors were naughty...wuahahahaha! :D :D

    When I saw the post title, I thought it was strange for someone to make kimchi when they don't like kimchi. Now that you say that there are versions of kimchi you like (ie. fresh ones), perhaps I should start tasting the kimchi that's brought to my table. By default, I always leave them alone and don't taste any of them since I dislike it so much. Ah, so I see the key is to eat it fresh and not let if ferment, the longer the fermentation, the more pungent and sour it tastes.

    1. hah..hah...

      Yes, do taste the kimchi next time, who knows you might change your mind like I did. I suspect the ones I had were not fully fermented hence the more pleasant taste. To be honest the one I made turned super pungent today. Day one and two are the best. So I don't qualify as a Korean wahahaha!!!

  2. Lol. That is funny. The most comment someone even asked me was 'Are you Chinese?' Probably my Chinese accent is not that strong and I speak local Sarawak Malay.

    I still dont like kim chi. My hubby does abd everytime he eats, I will try to bear with the smell.

    1. I get asked "Are you Chinese" too because I can't speak >.<

  3. I really think my past lives were in Korea too, as a warrior and still enjoys the friendship of my faithful Korean comrades in this life. I am not sure if you remember or know that my 3 Chinese-word names are typical Korean names which tickles everyone. No wonder you and I are like blog clowns today. Muahahaha


    Many Koreans today are tired of eating just Kimchi alone unless cooked with other ingredients such to make Kimchi Jigae. I am expert in cooking Kimchi Jigae as taught by the comrades. It is a heavenly dish you should try!

    Oh dear, now you reminded me that I still have many posts from the Korea and UK trips. I love to procrastinate!

    1. Yes, in particular your middle and last name hee..hee.. I noticed that there is kimchi fried rice, kimchi stew and such. I must try this kimchi jigae soon.

  4. Apahal? You mata sepet so everyone thinks you're Korean kah? Eyewwwwww!!! You can keep your kimchi, thank you very much! LOL!!!

    1. Eh, have you taken a look at Korean movie stars? muahahahaha!!

    2. oh, this means I have to keep a lookout for korean movie stars looking local women in starling mall! I need to look at the photos of your feet and watch again.

  5. Me and my buddy jose wew approached by a foreigner at a swimming pool in port dickson and he asked us are you koreans? Can we talk? And we ran away.

    Maybe because you are fair that is why you look like korean. The only comment i always get is are you eurasian? Lol.

    I ama die hard fan for kimchi, so please pass me some of your kimchi muahaha

    1. LOL! SO funny, but then it is scary to be approached by a stranger like that. I do notice from your photos that you don't have a typical Chinese look, you looked mixed a bit. That's why some may think you are Eurasian.

  6. I like the more fermented the kimchi is the more I like it but I will also eat fresh kimchi which to me is no ommmph at all. now I will try to spot for korean looking locals in starling mall, hehehehe.

    1. It's strange that you don't like strong flavors but you enjoy strong tasting kimchi!

      Good luck looking for me hahahaha!!!

    2. It is not that I don't like flavours. Just that I don't like heavily salted or sugared food and I couldn't stand very spicy food but very sour food I like. I especially like fermented food like yogurt, japanese nattos, blue cheese and also food with strong flavours like century eggs and durians.

  7. I pun tak berapa suka Kimchi LL.... tp bolehlah makan....pantang tolak hahhahaa...
    I pernah jugak buat kimchi ni, saja nak try kan.... Tp masalahnya nanti I sorang je yg makan tu yg malas nak try tu.... Kita ni tak suka tak suka pun boleh je jadi DBKL, kalau diaorang tak habis, tinggal gitu je....sayang tau!!!

    1. hah..hah... betul tu, Hainom. LL pun makan sorang2. Masih ada lagi kat fridge...

  8. Fermented foods are supposed to be very good for you.

    1. Yes, all those bacteria hee..hee...

  9. My friend gave me some her homemade kimchi which she told me about the tedious work when making it, those vegetables cutting and long hours standing. So I think I better stick to the store bought one or wait for her to give me some again, hehe ^__*

    1. The traditional kimchi is quite time consuming like what your friend described. This instant one is quite easy.