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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Cucumber kim chee a snap to make

By Wanda A. Adams
Advertiser Food Editor


Why should you make kim chee at home?

Because you can — and some forms of kim chee, such as cucumber and eggplant, are pretty easy to prepare.

Most kim chee cooks agree: Cucumber kim chee is the easiest, and it's ready to eat right away. But this kim chee has a short shelf life — a week or so.

This is 89-year-old Julia Chung's recipe as she described it to me. She doesn't measure anymore: "After you make it so many times, you learn."


2 Japanese cucumbers Table salt or finely ground sea salt 1 teaspoon coarse-ground Korean red pepper 1 tablespoon sugar 1 teaspoon minced garlic 1 teaspoon peeled, minced ginger 2 tablespoons (or more, as desired) minced green onion

Wash unpeeled cucumber, cut off ends and cut into chunks. In a nonreactive bowl, layer the chunks with a light sprinkling of salt between each layer. Toss and stir to distribute salt. Allow to sit for 20 minutes, then rinse off a piece and taste. If too salty, wash cucumber in cold water and proceed. If not salty enough, allow to marinate longer. When the flavor is right, drain and rinse in cold water.

In a bowl, stir together Korean red pepper, sugar, garlic, ginger and green onion. Add cucumber, toss well and pack into sterilized jars. Refrigerate; this is ready to eat the same day. Keeps about 2 weeks, refrigerated.

  • Per 1/4-cup serving: 10 calories, 0 fat, 0 saturated fat, 0 cholesterol, greater than 400 mg sodium, 2 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 0 protein

    "The Pickle Lady" Leonora Ching of Kane'ohe includes a recipe for eggplant kim chee in her self-published cookbook, "Pickle Passion" (www.picklepass ion.com). This recipe illustrates the technique for "stuffing" vegetables with "so" — kim chee spices — by cutting a slit in the vegetable.

    Like all pickle recipes, this one depends greatly on the quality of the ingredients.


    1 pound long purple eggplant 2 cups water 2 cups salt 1 tablespoon minced garlic 1 stalk green onion, cut into 1/4-inch pieces 1-2 tablespoons Korean coarse-ground Korean red pepper flakes 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon sugar 2 tablespoons water 2 tablespoons fish sauce 1/4 cup vinegar 1/2 cup shoyu 1 tablespoon sugar

    Remove stems from unpeeled eggplants and cut deep lengthwise slits down the center of each one.

    In a large nonreactive bowl, make a brine by stirring together 2 cups water and 2 cups salt until salt dissolves. Immerse eggplant in brine, placing a plate on top to keep the eggplant submerged. Brine the eggplant until it is softened. Roll eggplant in kitchen towel, twist ends and squeeze to remove water, but don't wash salt off.

    Mix garlic, ginger, green onion, red pepper flakes, salt, 1 teaspoon sugar, 2 tablespoons water and fish sauce. Pack this spice mixture into the eggplant slits. Layer the eggplant, cut side up, in a crock or deep casserole (anything glass, porcelain-lined or ceramic is OK). Blend vinegar, shoyu and 1 tablespoon sugar and pour over eggplant. Weight eggplant down with heavy weight (bowl of water on top of plate or a clean stone on top of a plate). Marinate in refrigerator 2 days.

    Cut into 2-inch pieces and place in sterilized jars. It's ready to eat at this point; store in refrigerator a week or two.

  • Per 1/4-cup serving: 15 calories, 0 fat, 0 saturated fat, 0 cholesterol, greater than 600 mg sodium, 3 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 1 g protein

    Kim chee soup — kim chee chi ge — is one of the commonest and most beloved dishes in the Korean (and Korean-American) home kitchen. Besides being quick and easy to make, it's a valued way to use up won bok kim chee that is aging and getting a little too sour. For a sweeter soup, you can wash the kim chee, but many Koreans say the more sour the better for this soup. The soup customarily is made with fatty pork belly, which is sold already cut into thin slices in Korean grocery stores, such as Palama Super Market or Queen's Super Market. You can use slivers of pork tenderloin for a leaner soup, but the flavor wouldn't satisfy those who grew up with this dish!

    This version, adapted from one in "Growing Up in a Korean Kitchen," by Hi Soo Shin Hepinstall (Ten Speed Press, 2001), is a bit "fancy," with marinated pork, lots of vegetables and rich broth. Island home cooks often make a much simpler kim chee soup, with a water base or a mixture of water and kim chee juice.

    Mimi Mitsunaga, the kim chee maven for the Iolani School Family Fair, makes her kim chee chi ge with leftover meats, sour kim chee, broth and tofu. Chef Chae Won Choe likes to make a stock with dried shrimp and ginger, and to saute the pork belly with a little kochujang (hot red pepper paste). Especially if you use a good-quality, hand-made kim chee, there will be flavor enough without adding a lot of other ingredients.


    4 ounces pork belly, sliced paper-thin, in 1/2-inch squares 1/2 tablespoon shoyu 1 tablespoon sake or dry vermouth 1 clove garlic, crushed and finely chopped 1 teaspoon ginger juice 1/2 tablespoon sugar 1 tablespoon sesame oil 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 5 cloves garlic, crushed and finely minced 6 ounces bean sprouts 4 small shiitake (or other fresh) mushrooms, slivered 4 green onion, cut into 1/2-inch pieces 1 cup won bok kim chee 4 cups chicken stock 8 ounce tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes Salt Pepper

    In a medium-size bowl, stir together shoyu, sake, 1 clove garlic (crushed and finely chopped), ginger juice and sesame oil. Add pork belly and turn to coat.

    In a heavy stockpot, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat and saute the 5 cloves garlic and the pork in its marinade for 3 minutes, until pork is no longer pink. Add sprouts, mushrooms, half the green onions and kim chee. Saute 3 minutes. Add stock and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Gently boil for 5 minutes. Add tofu and gently boil 2 minutes. Add remaining green onions and cook jut until onions turn bright green.

    Taste and add salt and pepper, as desired.

    Serve hot in bowls with rice.

    Makes 6 servings.

  • Per serving, without rice: 200 calories, 17 g fat, 4.5 g saturated fat, 15 mg cholesterol, greater than 900 mg sodium, 9 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 4 g sugar, 6 g protein