San Francisco Kimchi

written by Wasel Choi

My mother-in-law, Angela Choi, gave me the opportunity to be in her kicthen to document the way she makes Kimchi! She is Seoul origin so I was curious of what kind of Kimchi she makes now in San Francisco.

She brought five Napa Cabbage or some call it Korean Cabbage, wash thoroughly on running water, try to pry open while washing to clean it as much as possible. Let cabbage dry then sprinkle salt on all the layers. Leave the cabbage for circa eight hours, through that period try to massage the cabbage, that will help the salt to spread equally.

Then make a Kimchi sauce! She told me that making a kimchi sauce is one of her secret recipe! I stole as much as I could, do not tell her please :-) Boil three cups of water and add three teaspoon of flour, continue on stirring, let temperature cools down away from oven. Add peeled and minced of whole head of garlic, two teaspoon of peeled & minced ginger, five minced green onions, and three cups of Korean red pepper. The darker the red in the sauce is the spicy the kimchi will be. She made it a moderate Kimchi and not spicy at all. In Seoul, the food in general is less spicy compared to other regions in southern Korea. In away or another, Angela’s Kimchi is now not a Seoul Kimchi but San Francisco Kimchi. Her American kids won’t eat same food as Koreans do. So I thought this kimchi is derive of Seoul but invention of San Francisco.

Now let’s go back to our cabbage! Wash cabbage with warm water. She washed them twice! While washing, I jokingly asked her if she saw Jesus on her dream once :-) She split each whole cabbage in two pieces, so it would be easier for her to cut them. Then she cuts each cabbage one inch by one inch. Collect all the cuts on a separate bowl. “In the old times, Koreans used whole cabbage without cutting it to make Kimchi” she told me. She put on latex-free gloves, made sure the gloves are tied around her wrists! That is an efficient manner of her, this way the food is prevented from Cross Contamination.

Mix the cabbage with three cups of kimchi sauce! Also sprinkle minced garlic as desired, three to four teaspoon of salted shrimp paste, little of anchovy sauce, and three to four teaspoon of Korean red pepper, and lastly she added minced of two whole Japanese daikons. While mixing, she tasted the cabbage and added more anchovy sauce as desired. At the end, she asked her son to bring sesame seeds, that secret touch was a truly gastronomic of making the best Kimchi I ever had.

Later she packed the Kimchi in glass jars and tightly sealed! She shared with me that the most important step on making Kimchi is the amount of salt sprinkled on first step! Welcome to San Francisco Kimchi by Angela Choi :-)