Tag Archives | Kimchi

The Agricola Cookbook and a Kimchi Recipe

finished kimchi - Food in Jars

I am a relative newcomer to kimchi. It wasn’t part of my family’s pickle culture (we leaned Jewish and Japanese) when I was growing up and I don’t think I had even so much as a taste of it until college. After that first bite, spent about a decade feeling kimchi-neutral. I’d eat a bite or two at Korean restaurants, but it wasn’t something I sought out.

Agricola - Food in Jars

Then something shifted. I became someone who always had a jar of kimchi (whether homemade or store bought) in the fridge. These days, I eat it with eggs, layered into quesadillas, on top of avocado toast, or even just out of the jar when nothing else appeals. It is one of my favorite ways to add flavor and texture to just about everything.

kimchi recipe - Food in Jars

Over the years, I’ve tried a number of different recipes for kimchi, and oddly, the proportions for my favorite version don’t come from a specialized fermentation book or one devoted to Korean cuisine. Instead, the foundational recipe comes from the Agricola Cookbook, a book born from a farm and restaurant in the Princeton, NJ area.

napa cabbage - Food in Jars

The essentials of basic kimchi (and what I mean by basic is that this is the kimchi most commonly found in the US) are the same. They are napa cabbage, daikon, green onion, garlic, ginger, salt, and chile powder. Some recipes have you add rice flour (for thickening the spice paste), shrimp paste or fish sauce (to increase the funky umami), apple or asian pear (for sweetness), or carrot (for more crunch and color).

salted napa cabbage - Food in Jars

For my uses, I find that the simpler approach is best. The most exotic ingredient you’ll find in my batch is the Korean chili powder called gochugaru that gives kimchi its trademark color and spice. You can get it at most large Asian grocery stores, though I typically buy it a pound at a time from Amazon.

kimchi close - Food in Jars

The process takes about a week. I start by salting the cabbage and letting it rest overnight. The next day, I rinse and drain it, add the julienned daikon (made using one of these peelers), and lengths of green onion. I make a spice paste with garlic, ginger, and sugar, add the gochugaru and then rub it into the vegetables. Then I pack it into a jar or crock where it can ferment for five or six days. When it’s done, I transfer it into a jar for the fridge and start eating down the batch. Easy and delicious.

I’ll be taking some of this kimchi with me to the next Philly Food Swap. It’s on Monday, November 9 and there are still spots available, if you want to join us!

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Preserves in Action: Kimchi Quesadilla

side of quesadilla

I taught a class Monday night and by the time I got home, I was ravenous. I’d eaten all the interesting leftovers for lunch and my husband had made himself a meal of hot dogs and peas from the freezer. Looking into the fridge, I spotted a package of whole wheat tortillas, a jar of kimchi, and a block of cheddar cheese. Kimchi quesadillas it was!*

tortilla with cheese and kimchi

To make the quesadilla, I plunk a skillet on the stove and start heat the pan over medium-high heat. Once it’s hot, I put the bottom tortilla into the skillet. I don’t add any oil because my pan is seasoned well enough that for a quick job like this, it just doesn’t need it. If you were using a stainless steel pan, you might want a quick slick of oil to prevent sticking.


Yes, I’m using store bought kimchi. I am out of my homemade version and with the book work going on around here, I just cannot muster the will to make a fresh batch.


Then I spread the grated cheese out on the tortilla, taking care to keep it on the tortilla and off the actual pan. Then I fork out some kimchi. Because I have a small obsessive streak, I try and make sure that my kimchi is placed so that I will get some in every bite. Then I put the second tortilla on top, pressing down gently with the palm of my hand to help adhere it to the melting cheese.

fish spatula

Because my burners heat incredibly unevenly, I end up rotating the pan during cooking, so that all sides get even toasting. Using a flexible fish spatula (the best tool ever for jobs like this), I peek underneath the bottom tortilla. If it is golden, it is time to flip. The second side needs just a minute or two. Once it’s done, I put it on a cutting board to let it cool for a moment and then cut it up into wedges using a big knife.

finished quesadilla

This would work just as deliciously if you cooked sauerkraut or some other tangy pickled vegetable into the quesadilla. I’ve also made something similar with a few spoonfuls of chutney to very good effect. Heck, you could even make a dessert preserves in action quesadilla using fresh ricotta cheese and some fruit preserves. The options are endless!

*I do not claim to have invented the kimchi quesadilla. As far as I can tell, the idea has been floating around the internet since late 2009, when Roy Choi’s recipe was printed in one of the final issues of Gourmet. Still, it’s a good one!

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Preserves in Action: Open Faced Kimchi & Egg Sandwich

Half a bagel, fried egg, kimchi.

Late last week, I came down with a cold. At first, I tried to pretend it wasn’t happening, but it was not to be ignored. And so I spent the last five days in a bit of a haze, doing only the things that absolutely had to be done. I taught my classes and did the demos I’d committed to doing, but I skipped all extras, including grocery shopping.

Today was the first day that I felt anywhere near normal. I woke up ravenous and headed to the fridge, hoping for something fresh and delicious. Instead, I found a number of weird odds and ends, and no fresh vegetables whatsoever.

There was slightly stale half a bagel, a few eggs, and some end of a jar of the most delicious kimchi ever (it was from the July food swap and was so darn good). And so, I toasted the bagel and spread all the kimchi goodness into it (probiotics!). A single fried egg went on top. And it was delicious.

Eggs and kimchi. Make sure to try it.

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Homemade Kimchi

half gallon of kimchi - Food in Jars

I’ve been talking a lot about fancy salts and how to use them in preserving this week. On Tuesday, I shared a recipe for a quick, spicy cucumber pickle (which I’ve been eating non-stop on salads for the last couple days. It’s intensely garlicky and I love it). Today, we’re using some of that gorgeous salt in a batch of kimchi.

shredded kimchi veg - Food in Jars

I came relatively late to the world of kimchi. I’d eat it when at a Korean restaurant, but it wasn’t really something I started seeking out until a couple years ago. At first, I satisfied my kimchi craving by buying packets of the stuff from the Trader Joe’s refrigerator case, but soon found myself going through two or three a week. It was time to start making it myself.

salt and crushed peppers - Food in Jars

I will be the first to say that my technique isn’t the most authentic on the planet. I don’t use rice flour (because I’m lazy and don’t want to add another thing to my pantry) and I pretty much toss whatever vegetables in that I have (there are red radishes in this batch because I had some and wanted to use them up).

I also pack my shredded and seasoned veg into a half gallon jar and let it do its fermenty thing, without airlocks or any kind of weight. I just press it down with a clean hand once a day and keep an eye out for any sort of surface funk.

spiced kimchi veg - Food in Jars

This batch is a combination of shredded napa cabbage, grated carrot and daikon radish, shaved red radish bits, the tops of spring onions, ginger, garlic, grey sea salt, and gochugaru (that’s the Korean red chili powder and this is the only special ingredient I keep around specifically for kimchi making. It’s just not the same without it). Essentially, I combine all the ingredients, knead them together with with clean hands, pack the whole mess into a jar, and let it sit for a while.

tossed kimchi veg - Food in Jars

For those of you who aren’t regular kimchi eaters, let’s talk about to use this spicy, tangy fermented pickle. I scoop a couple forkfuls onto nearly every salad I make. It’s good stirred into soups (carrot or lentil are particularly good vehicles). And it’s miraculous gently warmed and eaten with scrambled eggs (Alana taught me that trick).

How do you eat your kimchi?

PS – For a more authentic recipe, along with everything you want to know about the world of fermenting, I highly suggest you visit my friend Amanda’s blog, Phickle. She’s incredibly knowledgeable and her site is a fantastic resource.

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