Saturday, July 21, 2007

Cool & Hot, balance of yin and yang - Oisobaghi

As a cook either home cook or a professional, one probably has food trauma (or even karma); one, two or even few more dishes that never come out well. One of my food trauma is this one; Oisobaghi, stuffed cucumber kimchi. Cucumber look very different depending on where you are. On top of your head-if you are food lover- you can come up with at least three different types of cucumber. Each has unique texture and usage. Some have very thick waxy skin while others have very thin. One type develops a lot of seeds while the other type doesn’t have seed in them.

I just can not find the right cucumber to make this dish till very recently.
I could have used Korean cucumber (AKA Japanese or Chinese cucumber, as many of the common food items are known in U.S.). But it is very hard to find and very expensive. Hey, I am very poor graduate student who lives on tight budget. I have looked around and tried each cucumber I come across. Ordinary cucumber is out of question, first. The crunch texture of thin cucumber skin is essential; the cucumber must hold shape after curing. Skinless cucumber just doew not work for this. English cucumber has too much water and it doesn’t ferment very well. Finally, I come across little baby cucumbers as summer seasonal food in the market. It look exactly same with the cucumber I know from Korea but just in smaller size.
I bought them with a beating heart; my expectation was getting high each minute. I couldn’t wait to get home and to get into cooking. And, as I expected, it was success at last!!!

Cucumber is cool. Seasoning of Korean red chillie powder, ginger and garlic add fire. First the tung feels burns but the cooling taste of cucumber comes.
Perfect balance of yin and yang; you may find the true delight of summer in it.

I’ve heard the pickling cucumber works great. I guess it may be easier to handle since it is thicker than the cucumber I used.

Pickling cucumber (or baby seedless cucumbers) 2 lb, Salt 1/2 cup + 1 T, boiling water, green onions (julienned) 2 cup, grounded fresh ginger 1/2 T, grounded garlic 1 T, Korean chillie powder 3 T, grounded fresh red chillie peppers 1 T (optional, if you can’t get red chillie pepper then substitute it with 1/2T Korean chillie powder), sugar 1/2 T, sweet rice porridge 1/2 cup

1. Sprinkle salt well on all of the cucumber, and coat them with salt very well. Let it sit till you can bend the cucumber without breaking.
2. Wash the excess salt well, transfer the cucumbers on the drainer and pure hot boiling water over. This keeps cucumber crispy.
3. Cut cucumber into 3 inch length and make a slit in length (or crossed depending on the thickness of your cucumber) way into without cutting it half.
4. In a big mixing bowl, mix well sweet rice porridge, sugar, 1 T salt, chilie pepper and chilie powder, ginger, garlic, and green onions.
5. Rub outside of cucumber well with seasonings and open the slit and stuff green onions into it. (It would be better if you use flat leafy chives AKA Chinese chives since jullienning the green onion is not so easy.)
6. Place the cucumber in the tight sealing container and refrigerate it.

You can eat this kimchi right away. Actually many of my friends prefer to eat it without fermenting it. However, if you have patience to way, do so. It develops very unique sour flavor which I love.


Bateau Ivre said...

This has been my favourite kind of Kimchi since childhood. Oh I love pakimchi, puchukimchi and paekkimchi as much... Oh well, they say there are more than a hundred different kind of Kimchi, so it's inevitable to love at least a few!et

KJ said...

There are so many Kimchi that I miss!! My most recent love is Hopak Kimchi. :)