Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Cucumber Kimchee, easy peasy summer kimchee

Don't you just love SUMMER?
The heat, the humidity, the sweat, nicely preheated car in the parking lot, fully crowded beach, kids nagging out of boredom, loads of Popsicle boxes taking over your freezer, etc... 
Okay, these are not my favorite things of summer but there is nothing like sipping lemonade on your porch and watching the whole world goes by in front of your eyes.

I am proud to present the "Cucumber Kimchee", the kimchee of summer in Korea.
This cool and crunch kimchee is sure to please your lost appetite in this hot season.
They are so easy to make. 
However, you have to know a trick to maintain the crunchiness of cucumber even after the fermentation. Not a huge trick but not everyone knows that. I've made this cucumber kimchee about a month ago and they are still crunch and cool to bite on. The flavor is so awesome that my l0 year old go nuts over it, regardless of its spiciness for her age. She drinks milk after each bite.

Cucumbers are in season and they are cheap. Grab a few and make some kimchee with them. You will be happy that you tried.

 NOTE : 
For the choice of cucumber, I highly recommend Kirby cucumbers. They are short and has rough skin but they are tender to eat as raw without peeling off the skin. Kirby cucumbers are widely used in making pickles all around the world. If you can't find this refreshing cool Kirby cuke, substitute with English cucumbers. They are longer and usually sold as wrapped in plastic film.

Let's learn how to make these awesome cuke kimchee called "오이 소박이, Ooi Sobaggi".


Welcome to Ooi Ooi kimchee camp. These are your camp buddies.
Kirby cucumbers, onion, garlic, radish, chives, salted shrimp, ginger, sugar,  sea salt, anchovy sauce, Korean chili flakes, and a little bit of cooked rice.

Cut off the ends of cucumbers and cut each cucumber in half in the middle.
Give a cross slit to each log from the top toward the bottom but leave about 1/2" from the base uncut.
This will hold the stuffing together later and lock the flavor and texture in.

Now, time to share important trick to make very crunch kimchee.
Mix water with some salt and bring to full boil.

Pour the boiling water over the cucumber logs in a shallow bowl and let them sit for 45 minutes.
Pouring salted boiling water rather than sprinkling salt directly over cucumbers will make great difference in crunch texture of this cucumber kimchee when fermented.

 Meanwhile slice the radish into thin matchsticks. The thinner the better, but do not grate.

 In a blender, process a tiny bit of cooked rice, water, garlic, and salted shrimp altogether.
You can add a tiny piece of fresh ginger if you are using fresh one.

 Blend them well until you don't see their existence.

 In a mixing bowl combine radish slices, chopped onion, chopped chives, chili flakes, pureed ginger, anchovy sauce, and sugar.

 Give them a nice massage until they turn into a red beauty.

 Pour the rice shrimp puree over the filling and mix very well. Set aside.
Now, give yourself a few minutes to check your email, facebook, tweeter, or simply walk out to the old fashioned mailbox to be connected with outside world.

Get off from your social networking station and get back to work.
Your cucumbers should be nicely seasoned with salt by then. Rinse them briefly

 and dry them with paper towel to remove extra moist outside.
Time for a fun part...

 Open up their mouth on top. Be gentle, please.

 Stuff each cucumber with about 1 Tbsp of filling into the crossed cracks toward the base.
Be careful not to break them.

Rub the outside with some chili filling as well. That's it. You got it!

Stack them upright together in an airtight container. 
Let them sit on the counter for 1 day first and then put them in the fridge for a longer storage. After about 3 days you should be able to taste the perfectly fermented stage of this kimchee. They can be kept in the fridge for up to a month.
You will see cucumbers releasing their juices continuously as time goes. It is natural thing (cucumbers are mostly water). That's why you need to keep them upright so the juice will run to the bottom without diluting the filling inside.

To serve, just slice the uncut bottom ends and spread the filling evenly over each pieces. I like to sprinkle a tiny bit of sesame seeds on top for a presentation.

My, oh, my!
You will love the taste and the texture.
Cool, crunch, and just the right amount of pungent flavor with kick at the end...
You know what?
This kimchee will make a great partner to Korean BBQ
Hmmmm, now I am craving the smoky Koran BBQ on charcoal grill.
Dang! I am salivating now.

Cucumber Kimchee
(오이 소박이, Ooi sobaggi)

7-8 Kirby cucumbers or 3-4 English cucumbers
4 cups water
4 Tbsp sea salt
1/2 small bunch of Asian chive, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cups Korean radish sliced into thin matchsticks

1 Tbsp salted shrimp
2 Tbsp cooked white rice
1/4 cup water
3 garlic cloves
1 piece of ginger, size of garlic
1 Tbsp sugar
1/3 cup Korean chili flakes
4 Tbsp Korean anchovy sauce

Cut the ends of each cucumber and cut in half in the middle. Each log should be about 2 - 2 1/2" long.
Give a cross cut from the cut edged top of each log toward the bottom, but leave 1/2" uncut at the bottom so that it can hold the filling later on. Place all the cucumber pieces in a large bowl.
In a pot, mix water with salt and bring to full boil. Pour the salted boiling water onto cucumbers in a bowl, and let them sit for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, make a filling. Combine salted shrimp, rice, water, garlic, ginger in a blender and puree until smooth. In a mixing bowl mix thin radish sticks, onions and chives. Add sugar, chili flakes, anchovy sauce and combine well. Pour the  shrimp rice puree to the filling and mix very well with your hand.  Set aside so that the radish will extract their moisture and get wilted.

Drain the water out of cucumbers and rinse them with water briefly. Dry them with paper towels.
Open up the cross cut top of cucumber gently with your hand, stuff with 1 - 2 Tbsp of filling, pushing toward the bottom ends without breaking the cucumbers. 
To store, stack them upright in an airtight container. Let them sit in a room temperature for 1 day and keep them in the fridge afterward. They will last up to a month or longer.
To serve, after about 3 days of refrigeration, your kimchee is ready to serve.  Slice the uncut bottom ends and spread filling to each pieces. Bite on! you will love the crunchiness. Enjoy!

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