I could go on for days about her talents...but as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, so just do yourself a favor and check out some of her awesome work here and here.
One of the things I adore and admire about Cindy is her positive attitude and her infectious energy. However, those were both put to the ultimate test last year when her mom was diagnosed with cancer.
|Cindy and me sporting our short haircuts in the KRTV news room circa 2003|
If you follow Cindy on instagram, you know that part of these special moments included learning some of her mom's Korean recipes. I've been wanting to make kimchi for awhile now, so I decided to take this opportunity to feature Cindy and her mom and dedicate this post to their entire family.
As you can see by my comment, I was under the impression that kimchi is normally made with cabbage. While this is true, I learned that there are several variations of this popular Korean side dish, including cucumbers and radish. And while days or weeks of fermentation is necessary for certain types of kimchi, this particular version can be eaten right away.
Let's talk for a second about ingredients. Living in San Francisco, I'm lucky to have several Korean markets at my disposal. First, you'll need some of these small pickling cucumbers (though I'm sure regular ones would do in a pinch). I grabbed five of them. The recipe calls for "leeks," which confused me at first because in Cindy's photo, they looked more like green onions. After a quick google search, I found out there is such a thing as Korean Leeks. They are sort of a mix between green onions (scallions) and chives...in both taste and appearance. I'm guessing you'll have to go to an Asian market to find them...so try subbing a combo of scallions and chives if you can't find any.
You also need some chili powder. This is what gives kimchi its signature red hue. If you can, Korean chili powder, or gochu galu, is preferred here. It's a little smoky, slightly sweet, and pretty spicy.
Not much English on the packaging in the Korean market. Luckily, one of the guys was nice enough to help me. I had originally picked up a small container in a different aisle, to which he informed me was not the right stuff for kimchi. He also seemed slightly amused (I prefer to think impressed) that *I* was making kimchi. He led me over to a separate section that had various 1 pound and even 2 pound bags of the stuff. I tried to express that I really didn't need *that* much. He explained he normally makes very large portions and still tried to sell me on the bigger bag. I instead settled for an 8 ounce jar (which was still a lot), though I suspect the bags would've been the fresher option.
The final key component is the fish sauce, which will help give the kimchi that umami taste. As I know from the Asian Chicken Noodle Soup I like to make when I'm sick (my first ever post!), this stuff is salty so you don't need a whole lot, and you won't need much additional salt, if any. The nice Korean man helped me to find this as well...which was a good thing, considering my only clue that this was fish sauce included a small photo of fish on the back. (Gotta be authentic...that's how I roll).
You can cut the cucumbers in spears if you like, but I decided to do small pieces since that's what Cindy did in her original instagram post. Also...she couldn't remember if her mom salts the cucumbers, but I noticed several recipes online called for this so I did. I salted them with kosher salt, let them sit for about 20 minutes, and then rinsed them under cold water and returned them to the bowl (use a non-reactive one like glass or stainless steel). While the cucumbers are sitting, you can prep and mix together the remaining ingredients.
Pour mixture over the cucumbers and thoroughly combine. You can use your hands...but be sure to wear gloves as it stains. (Since I was doing a smaller batch, I just used a wooden spoon).
*Note...Cindy's recipe calls for sesame seeds. I didn't realize I was out of them, so I didn't add them, but will definitely do that next time.
I think this kimchi is best enjoyed right away but you can also store in your refrigerator in glass jars. I love the combination of tangy, garlicky, spicy and umami tastes in this refreshing and healthy side dish. Enjoy it on its own or alongside rice or any Korean dish (or in a burrito a la HRD!) It's loaded with vitamins and helps with digestion so eat as much as you like! Thanks to Cindy and her mom for sharing this lovely recipe. It's an honor to feature them on the blog and my thoughts and prayers go out to them in this difficult time.
Quick Cucumber Kimchi
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Keywords: side appetizer condiment low-carb low-fat cucumber fish sauce Korean chile kimchi Korean
- 5 small pickling cucumbers, cut in small wedges
- 2-3 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 1 bunch of Korean leeks, minced (or sub a combo of scallions and chives)
- 1 tablespoon fresh, minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1/4 cup Korean chile powder/flakes
- 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
- In a non-reactive bowl, toss cucumber with salt. Allow to sit for 20 minutes. Then rinse with cold water and return to bowl.
- While cucumbers are salting, mix together the remaining ingredients.
- Pour over cucumbers and mix thoroughly. Enjoy immediately or store in glass jars in the refrigerator.
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