Name: Mia Kim
Where do you live? Downtown Los Angeles, CA
What’s your spice? Gochugaru (Korean Chili Powder)
What else? I read somewhere that until the 16th century, Korean food didn’t contain any chili at all. Now Korea has the most per capita consumption of chili in the world.
What’s your favorite vegetarian recipe using it? Bok Choy Kimchi. It’s refreshing, healthy, crunchier than regular kimchi, very quick and easy to make and can be eaten immediately (no fermentation period). I add fish sauce for some extra depth, but you can still definitely make it without the fish sauce for a delicious vegetarian option.
4-5 bok choy, leaves rinsed and separated
1-2 cucumbers, sliced (preferably Persian)
3-4 Korean fresh perilla leaves, sliced (optional)
1/4 cup Korean chives, chopped (optional)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3/4 tablespoon sesame oil
3/4 tablespoon fish sauce (optional)
2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced
3/4 teaspoon ginger, grated or finely minced
3/4 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon gochugaru
1 teaspoon roasted sesame seeds
juice of 1 large lemon
Separate and rinse bok choy leaves. Slice lengthwise and across into bite-sized pieces.
Slice cucumber(s). I prefer Persian cucumbers for their crunch, and usually slice them about a 1/2 inch thick at a diagonal. If using perilla leaves, cut into small strips, about an inch or so wide, snipping off the stems. If using Korean chives (can be found at Asian markets and differ dramatically from Western chives; similar to Chinese chives), cut off ends and cut into 2 inch or so pieces. Place all greens in a large bowl that allows adequate space to toss and dress the kimchi.
Finely mince garlic and grate ginger. Add both to greens mixture. Add soy sauce, sesame oil,
lemon juice, honey, sesame seeds and gochugaru. Add fish sauce, if desired.
Gently toss, ensuring that all greens are covered evenly. You can garnish with additional sesame seeds and strips of perilla leaves.
These measurements are not hard and fast at all. You can play around adding more or less of any of the above ingredients, depending on your taste buds. You can also add more gochugaru to make it spicier. I would just continually taste to see that any one flavor is not overwhelming, or that the ratio of liquid to greens does not outweigh it (making it too salty). I usually add one round of all the ingredients, and if I don’t find it flavorful enough, repeat with another round of all the ingredients (excluding the greens).
I generally don’t add salt since the soy sauce, lemon juice and fish sauce add enough of a salty flavor. However, one can carefully salt to taste especially if omitting the fish sauce. I would let the kimchi sit for a few minutes before adding more salt however because I find that the dressing gets a little saltier once it sits.
Optional additions to this dish include sliced scallions and/or finely sliced white onion. An alternative dish would be to substitute about 5 Persian cucumbers for the bok choy for a quick and easy version of cucumber kimchi.
Can be served immediately. This recipe serves about 2.