Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Tutu's Cucumber Kim Chee - Caity

Kim chee (or kimchi) is a traditional Korean condiment made of vegetables with a variety of seasonings. The most common type is made with nappa cabbage. It is salty and spicy and a great side to many meals. My favorite way, and the way my mom has always made it, is with cucumbers. She learned to make it from her mom, my grandmother, Tutu. 

The spice and color of kim chee comes from a ground red pepper. Tutu prefers to use a certain kind of ground red pepper that is kind of partially ground, partially flaked that can be hard to find on the mainland (as in not Hawaii). Try the Asian markets, or in a pinch you can used crushed red pepper. Adjust the heat to your own preference. Koreans traditionally make kim chee very, very garlicky--adjust to your own taste.

It is good served with some kind of Asian barbecued meat (like teriyaki or kalbi beef) and lots of rice. It is quite salty so use sparingly; it's more like a condiment than a side dish. 

what you'll need:

1/2 cucumber, unwaxed (Tutu prefers the long thin Japanese cucumbers, but they are hard to find on the mainland, so you can use the European ones)
Hawaiian or kosher salt 
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
1-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Paprika (for color)
Crushed Red Pepper
Cayenne (optional for additional heat) 

Early in the day, or the night before, thinly slice the cucumbers into about 1/4 inch slices. Place in a bowl, salt very heavily and toss well. It should taste too salty to eat. Let sit for a few hours or overnight. 

Drain off the juices that have accumulated. Taste cucumbers -- if too salty, rinse very briefly and drain well. If not salty enough, add a little salt. Add the ginger, garlic, hot pepper and enough paprika to make it colorful. If it's not hot enough, you can add some cayenne. 

Adjust seasonings to taste. Serve cold. 

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