Marinated Bokchoy Salad
It's hard to find good kimchi anywhere. I mean really good kimchi. Kimchi the way it's supposed to taste. Not the over seasoned, over ripened, over pungent, msg ladened one at markets and some restaurants.
Good kimchi comes from really fresh and vibrant napa cabbage and the perfect amount of red pepper seasoning. Sometimes squid, oysters, pears, red bell peppers are used to bring a certain special element to the batch. But there are so many more varieties. Seasonal ones: radish tops, daikon, white, water kimchi. And specially seasoned ones: unripened cabbage at kalgooksoo noodle houses, super ripened daikon cubes at beef soup houses, and whole cabbage oyster ones at pork specialty houses.
My family has been spoiled for the last year or so because we get ours from Grandmother Kimchi. Well that's what we all call her. She's one of my grandmother's friends who makes excellent kimchi to make a few extra change on the side. This is the best kimchi I've had in my life. We all fret because she is old and frail. Who will we get our kimchi from when she passes away?! I can't go back to my supermarket kimchi days!
Hence I feel an urgency to learn how to make kimchi. Not just spicy pickled cabbage which can be easily accomplished with few lines of direction. But real kimchi. Homemade ones that refresh the taste buds between each savory bites of rice and banchan. But who makes kimchi these days? Most of my Korean and non-Korean friends alike barely cook anything at all. Hopefully this is a project I will take on this year. Yoony - artisanal kimchi maker, part-time cook, cheese devourer. :)
Last month Grandmother Kimchi was injured, while making kimchi!! Our real Grandmother had to step in and made us a delicious batch of gut-jeoh-ri which is unripened cabbage seasoned with sesame oil and sesame seeds. To me this is more like a salad. I can eat bowlfuls of this. It's nutty, spicy, and cut into perfect sized strips.
When I saw beautiful bunches of bokchoy at the farmer's market I decided make something similar to gut-jeoh-ri, a small batch of bokchoy lightly seasoned with soy sauce, fish sauce, red pepper, sesame oil and scallions. Although this is more like a salad, you want the bokchoy to marinate in the dressing for a little bit so the salt draws some of the moisture out. A great substitution for times in need of kimchi, for asian rice, noodle, and bbq dishes. It keeps well for several days and is probably better than the stuff you're getting at the market.