September 2010

Bok Choy Kimchi

Kimchee, the perennial dish of Korea, is not difficult to make. This recipe is evidence that anybody — even I — could make kimchee. Bok choy kimchee in particular is a very simple affair.

4-5 bunches of baby bok choy
Kosher salt
3 tablespoons red chili powder (give or take a few)
1 teaspoon sesame seed oil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground sesame seeds (a.k.a sesame salt)
1 chopped scallion

That’s it! These are the only ingredients you’ll need. Truly.

First, wash your bok choy thoroughly. I like to give it a rinse three to four times.

Separate each leaf from the bottom stalk part. As you peel away the leaves, you will reach the heart of the bok choy, which looks like the baby of the baby bok choy — this is my favorite part of bok choy. I try not to peel beyond this part because the heart is oh-so-tasty and tender. “Love me tender, love me sweet!”

Shake out as much water as you can from the pile of washed choy. With each layer of bok choy, sprinkle a thin smattering of kosher salt, or any salt that is not iodized. I used sea salt from Costco.

Cover and let the salt lightly pickle the bok choy for a few hours. This batch pickled for about eight hours. You know it’s ready when the greens have wilted and shrunken in size. When it’s ready, squeeze out all the water from the bok choy. The salt will extract some of the bok choy’s juices.

Once squeezed, add your spices and sesame seed oil. Add your chopped scallions, which I actually forgot to do — haha oops! Using your hands, toss the whole thing together. And voila. Bok choy kimchee. Over time it will ferment and become sour like a proper pickled dish should. The best stage, in my opinion, is during the first two days when the choy is still crisp and sweet.