On Stillness & Cucumber Kimchi

Ever have one of those days when you think you want to pick up and move your whole life somewhere else, assume a new identity, and start all over, when all you really need to do is move some furniture around?

That's the kind of day I'm having with work.

The white veg is just some turnip I had handy
on the day I made this kimchi. :)

But thank Goddess I've been through enough useless upheaval to know it's the fatigue talking. So instead of scrapping everything, I changed a font, and a color, and I'm just going to sit with that until the little muted voice of reason in the back of my mind stops telling me not to make any moves or decisions of consequence.

And I'm going to share this Cucumber Kimchi recipe. Because people have asked me to, and I can't think of any negative consequences to it. ;)

The process is quite similar to making Napa Cabbage (baechu) kimchi, but you do need a little more salt in the beginning to extrude excess water from the cucumber because of its higher water content.

And because I'm so fried today, I'll also count this as Day 4 of my 2-week commitment to Write Something, Anything.

Cucumber Kimchi
Makes about 1.5 quarts. 
Time: About 30 minutes active time. 120 minutes inactive time.

- 4 pounds pickling cucumbers, cut in half lengthwise, then cut into roughly 1-inch pieces

- 1 bunch green onions, washed, roots trimmed, and cut into 2 inch segments (it's not pictured here because I forgot them when I took these pics, but you can just add them with the cabbage at the beginning)

- 1/4 cup + 1 Tablespoon kosher salt (about 10% less if you're using regular table salt)

Paste Ingredients

- 1/4 cup minced garlic (about 5 or 6 large cloves)

- 1/4 cup minced fresh ginger root (about a 2" segment)

- 1/3 cup crushed red chili flakes (like the kind you get with your pizza - you can find 13 to 16 oz. pouches of this in the Mexican spice section at most any grocery store) 1/4 cup for mild, 1/2 cup for extra spicy - I used 1/2 cup.

If you have gochugaru and would like to use it, I'd start with about 1/3 cup, give it a taste and add more before packing if you'd like. The kimchi pictured up top is using a blend of crushed red chili flakes and gochugaru - about 1/4 cup of each.

- 1/4 cup steamed white rice, lightly packed. Short or long grain is fine - I used jasmine because it was handy. If your rice is stale at all, microwave it in a bowl with 2 Tablespoons of water for 60 seconds first)

- 1/4 cup fish sauce (like Tiparos or Three Crabs)

- 1/4 cup sugar

- 1/4 cup water for blending

- 1/3 cup of water for getting the remaining seasoning off the bowl and making additional brine

1) In a large stainless steel or mixing bowl, toss the cucumbers, green onion and salt together. Make sure to thoroughly incorporate the salt throughout the cucumber. In 20 to 30 minutes, you should start to see the cucumber release water.

Let the cucumber sit for about 2 hours, tossing and redistributing every 30 minutes to ensure even brining. 

2) After 2 hours of pre-brining, rinse the cucumber with enough water to cover by 4 inches and swishing the cucumber in the water 7 or 8 times. Remove the cucumber into a strainer and let the excess water drain while you prepare the paste.

3) Make the paste by putting all the paste ingredients into a blender and blend until you can't see the individual grains of rice. Pour the paste over the cucumber.

4) Get into the bowl with your hands and mix that paste into the cucumber until all the pieces are evenly and thoroughly coated. 

5) Pack your kimchi into a bottle or other tight-lidded container (This time I repurposed a half gallon kimchi jar) and use the last 1/3 cup of water to swish around the mixing bowl, pick up all the remaining paste, and pour that liquid on top of your kimchi. Remember to leave 1 to 2 inches of headspace at the top to allow for expansion as fermentation takes place.

Your batch of cucumber kimchi is now ready for fermentation in a dark but not cold place like the inside of your cupboard. Or, if you can find a warmish spot in your garage, you can put it there. (I know that's not always possible for cold climate people in the middle of winter.)

A common question: 


You can eat the kimchi whenever you want. Fresh, just after it's been made, all the way up to when it's so incredibly old, ripe and stinky you could choke out a subway system by placing an open jar in one of the vents. It remains safe for human consumption for A VERY LONG TIME.

But as to when to refrigerate, just go out once a day every day to taste a piece, and when it gets to the ripeness you like, stick it in the fridge. It'll continue to ripen, but slowly.

I think this was taken after I'd ripened the kimchi 
for about 3 days.

Generally speaking, however, cucumber kimchi does not hold up texturally as well as Napa cabbage kimchi, and you'll find that it begins to go soggy more quickly. Best to make a smaller batch (you can halve this recipe) if you don't think you can eat it within 2 to 3 weeks because there just aren't as many good uses for overripe cucumber kimchi as with the Napa cabbage kind.

Enjoy. :)




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