The Pantry

My journey into Kimchi


Reading David Chan’s Momofuku book made me want to try out his Kimchi recipe. In short, Kimchi is fermented cabbage with some Kuchukaru and other ingredients like salted shrimp to kick start the fermentation process. For those not too familiar with Kimchi, it is like our mayonnaise or ketchup which we could use on pretty much anything. As my friend Daniel says it is part of our Korean culture.

The recipe is pretty much straight forward. Simply mix all the ingredients together and let it rot for some time in the fridge. Use it before it really becomes way too smelly. The ingredients and steps can be found below.

The only issue that I was facing was to source two of the most important ingredients: the Kuchukaru and the jarred shrimp. The Kuchukaru is a special Korean red chili powder with a very distinctive taste and as such it is difficult to exchange it with other types of chili powder. Jarred salted shrimp is pretty much essential as it is key to kick start the fermentation process. The last one could be replaced with raw oysters, squid or yellow croaker.

I was looking for these two ingredients in all my local supermarket as well as some international ones. Sadly, I could not find anything. Daniel suggested me to head to Tsim Tsa Tsui on Kimberley Street were most Korean supermarket are based. What a discovery!!! I was completely stunned by the diversity of ingredients, sauces and other condiments that I could find so easily. Impossible to know where to start but obviously with some help from the salesperson, I found my two ingredients in a matter of second.  A fun afternoon out chasing down a couple of ingredients.Korean supermarket

  1. Cut the cabbage lengthwise in half and cut the halves into small 2 cm pieces. Toss the cabbage with the salt and two tbsp of sugar. Leave it to sit overnight in your fridge.
  2. The next day, mix togheter the ginger, garlic, kochukaru, fish sauce, usukuchi, salted shrimp, and the remaining sugar in a bowl. Add water if the mixure is too tick. Finally add the scallions and the carrots
  3. Drain the cabbage, add it to the above mix