To me, November signals Kimjang, the traditional Korean cabbage harvest, when families used to gather together to ‘put away’ the last napa cabbage for the winter months. It was like a "kimchi block party," where several families would gather together to make hundreds of pounds of kimchi to be shared and eaten all winter long. The cabbage halves were brined, seasoned, and stacked into earthen barrel pots buried underground to protect from frost and allow for slow fermentation.
When using kimchi, be creative! Think of adding the bright, spicy, tangy kimchi flavors to all your winter meals. Here are some ideas to get you started:
1. Do you know the magic of kimchi and cheese? Add kimchi to grilled cheese sandwiches -- its spice and tanginess is the perfect complement to the sandwich's creamy texture. Kimchi also makes a delicious topping for quesadillas and lasagna with béchamel. In Korea, Pizza Hut even has a kimchi-topped pizza!
3. Top baked potatoes with kimchi, plus more traditional toppings like sour cream and scallions. Scalloped potatoes au gratin can also get a lift from the tanginess of kimchi.
2. Sautée kimchi with winter greens like kale, Swiss chard and Brussels sprouts. When cooking with kimchi, a well-aged (1 month or more) batch will have complex, fermented flavors that take well to sautéed dishes. Add kimchi with olive oil or butter -- as its smokiness and umami are released, you can even add a dash of soy sauce for deeper flavors.
4. Add kimchi to you leftover turkey sandwiches -- it goes well with gamey flavors and mayonnaise! It also makes a great addition to Philly cheese steaks or brisket sandwiches.
5. Pan sautée firm tofu, kimchi, and bacon for a delicious weekday meal. Wrap in lettuce leaves and you've got instant saam! Drizzle sesame oil on top for even more toasted flavors.
Photos by James Ransom
Tell us: What's your favorite way to cook with kimchi?
I am the founder of Mother-in-Law's Kimchi, a line of artisan kimchi based on an original recipe from Jang Mo Jip ("Mother-in-Law's Kimchi"), my mother's beloved restaurant in Garden Grove, California. From my mother's kitchen to working in the fine dining and wine industries, my deep love for food and wine led me from the Rhone Valley and Spain to Italy's hills, where I worked harvesting grapes. While living in New York City, I recognized the beauty of Korea's tradition of handcrafted kimchi, which inspired me to launch Mother-in-Law's Kimchi in 2009