The Kimchi batches are almost two weeks old. The recipes for both kimchi 1 and kimchi 2 state that they are best after 1 week in the refrigerator, and so I have sampled both this week. But before I discuss my observed differences in the product, lets look at the process. Last week, I posted about kimchi 1. This week I'll review the making of kimchi 2.
As you may, or may not, recall, the ingredients were slightly different from David Chang's version. There was no soy sauce or fish sauce and the addition of an Asian pear, daikon radish, and rice flour.
The cabbage was cut into quarters lengthwise. Then the quarters were cut into quarters again. From looking at the photos in the book, these cuts were meant to be lengthwise as well, but I made the second set of cuts crosswise as the text did not specify. I still have larger pieces of cabbage than in the David Chang version, and I believe I am happy that they are not really long. Remember, I used 3/4 of a huge (4 pound) cabbage, or about 3 pounds of cabbage.
Then the cabbage was brined overnight. For this version the cabbage was brined in salt water at room temperature. A weight was placed over the cabbage to insure that it remained submerged.
The next step is to make the rice flour paste. Two tablespoons of sweet rice flour was cooked in one cup of water until it formed a thick, pudding like consistency. Then it was set aside to cool.
Then make the marinade. The onion, Asian pear, ginger, garlic, red chile, and water were combined to make a runny paste. Everything fit into the small bowl of my food processor.
The marinade was combined with the shrimp, sugar, rice flour paste, scallions, grated carrots and more red chile.
The cabbage was rinsed and placed in a large bowl. The shredded daikon and the marinade were added. This recipe specifies that the ingredients be tossed together by hand, wearing gloves of course. I'm not convinced that a spoon wouldn't work as well, but I still like the idea of contact, of the maker working with the ingredients, so of course I used my hands.
The bowl was covered and the kimchi was left at room temperature for one day. Then it was packaged and put in the refrigerator. The recipe warns that the kimchi will expand and may leak outside the container. My bowl was plenty big, but later, in the refrigerator, I did have some leakage as the kimchi was pretty tightly packed in a 3 quart container. Not surprisingly, starting with twice the amount of cabbage as the Chang recipe, yielded twice as much kimchi.
But how do they compare? Above is a picture of the two kimchis after about 10 days. The one on the right is kimchi 1 (David Chang's recipe) and kimchi 2 is on the left (Koreatown). The addition of soy sauce and fish sauce gives David Chang's version not only a much more vibrant color, but a more vibrant taste as well.
Both are good. They are also very different. Kimchi 2 is mellower and softer in texture and flavor than kimchi 1. It has an almost, but not quite, bland, comforting sense to it with just a touch of heat at the end. Kimchi 1 is bright and vibrant and sparkly on the tongue at this stage and the flavors and textures are far more complexly nuanced and interesting. I am certain that this complexity, in both taste and color, is due to the addition of the soy sauce and fish sauce to the marinade. The cabbage in kimchi 1 is also more toothsome, with a bit more cabbage flavor, than the cabbage in kimchi 2. This may be due to the different brining techniques (in water as opposed to simply in salt alone).
The heat or spice level of the two kimchis is also different. David Chang's recipe calls for significantly more red chile than Koreatown's recipe does, but I halved the chile in version one, simply because I have made it before and the first version was too hot for me. Therefore the use of chile in the two versions was proportional to the weight of the cabbage. But Chang's version was still more pungent, and spicier but not necessarily with more chile heat. Kimchi 1 also called for significantly more garlic and ginger, which add to the flavor profile and yield a kimchi with a layered and complex spice that is not simply heat alone. It is also likely that the presence of the rice paste in kimchi 2, although acting as a binder and perhaps aiding fermentation, also muted both the color and the flavor profile of the resulting kimchi.
At this stage, I think I like kimchi 1 better, especially for use as a condiment. But kimchi 2 is also good and will be eaten. Both versions make a lovely omelet, the kimchi 2 version would be more soft and comforting, whereas kimchi 1 is more vibrant in combination with eggs. It does not overpower them, they soften its profile, but the bright wake-up call is still present. I suppose what is preferred is a matter of taste. I remain intrigued by the prospect of seeing how both versions age.
I can serve kimchi 2 to my mom. I'm not convinced she will like kimchi 1.