Making Kimichi & Kimichi Pancakes with Sook at Plantation HK
Living in a global financial centre does have its perks, but I often lament the loss of creativity and community events in Hong Kong’s rat race world. That’s why, when my friend Krizia, asked if anyone would like to join her in a kimichi-making workshop, I jumped up and screamed “me!”.
Kimichi, although a Korean delicacy, feels very close to home. By this, I mean the dominate ingredient in kimichi is usually the hearty baicai cabbage, which is a staple throughout Northern China during our long, hard winters. Before the great commercialisation of China, work factions (or danwei) would distribute truckloads of this cabbage to each household to make sure everyone had enough vegetables to plow through the winter. During the 80s and 90s, it was common to see mountains of cabbage piled in corridors and doorways of households, since the vegetable is so hearty it keeps well in the cold. My grandpa lived in a complex for retired military generals in Beijing, and we used to keep our winter cabbage supply in the residential bomb shelter, making it our own little subterranean fridge. Hence, baicai has always reminded me of cozy wintery meals, and what a treat it was to learn how to make this Northern staple into delicious kimichi.
The workshop was held in the quirky, rustic studio of Plantation, nestled in a quiet alleyway in Sheung Wan district. Our instructor was the lovely Mina Park, a Korean American who’ve inherited her mother’s love of cooking and entertaining. Mina, like many of us foodies in Hong Kong, wears two hats – lawyer by day, amazing chef by night. During this workshop, she shared with us her family recipe for making kimichi, which can be used to ferment a variety of vegetables. We sliced and diced radishes and cabbages to make 2 varieties of kimichi, and tasted the fruits of our labour by crunching into golden kimichi pancakes. Mina also followed our lesson with a delicious, home-cooked Korean extravaganza – a truly, beautiful feast.
We started our class by preparing all the raw ingredients, such as the chives below.
A selection of sauces for the marinade.
Mina brined these cabbages the night before, then rinsed and squeezed out the excess water. It’s best to drain the cabbages a couple of hours before kimichi-making.
Preparing these chubby daikons for dicing.
Scallions and leeks.
Me, hard at work peeling a daikon.
Diced daikons are ready for the marinade.
Pouring red pepper powder into a huge bowl of garlic, scallions, and ginger.
I love the fiery ruby glow of these chill peppers!
Pouring in the toasted sesame.
Our little workshop, hard at work
Portioning sweet rice flour to make the “gruel” that binds the marinade.
Firstly, mix 3 tbls of hot water into the flour to form a paste.
Then, in a saucepan, stir together the paste and the water over medium heat, until the mixture begins to thicken.
Korean salted shrimp – these little beauties are also known as Sakura shrimp in Japanese cooking. They have a fermented flavour, although not as pungent as the Cantonese shrimp paste.
Little shrimps in our marinade.
Pouring in the rice flour “gruel” into our marinade.
And let the mixing begin. The marinade will take on a crumply texture.
Mason jars on standby to hold our spicy creations. Don’t forget to pasteurise the jars in either boiling water or a hot oven before using!
Smear each leaf of the cabbage in the delicious spicy marinade.
Then pack it in tight! Press down on the cabbage to make sure there are no air pockets in the jar. However, leave at least an inch of room at the top for the carbon dioxide that fermentation creates.
Ta-da! Our jars of radish & cabbage kimichi are ready! Remember to leave the sealed jars at room temperature for at least 1 day before storing them in the refrigerator. This allows time for the fermentation to kick-start. The kimichi will be ready in about a week.
Now, on to the kimichi pancakes!
In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients: flour, potato starch, baking powder, salt.
Separate the whites out of an egg.
Whisk the egg white until fluffy, then fold into the flour along with the water.
Lightly saute the lardons.
Combine the meat, kimichi and greens into the batter.
(Below) This is the consistency you are looking for. Sear in a pan with a neutral oil (sunflower / corn etc).
Fresh blossoms outside Plantation’s production kitchen.
Tablescape of our lunch, courtesy of Plantation & Sook.
Our meal was served family style, so everyone can sit back, relax, and just have a good time.
(Below) Red snapper ceviche with Asian pear
Prawn dumplings, pan-seared to golden perfection.
Spicy roots salad.
Refreshing red cabbage salad.
Braised chicken wings
Blistered shishito peppers with sesame salt
Spicy rice cakes with pork and pickled vegetables
Pine nut tart with homemade cinnamon & persimmon ice cream
What a treat! A fun, eye-opening cooking class, a delicious home-style lunch, and jars of kimichi to bring home as reminders of a terrific day well spent The cost per person was $480, a great deal considering the amazing food and atmosphere.
Follow Mina on Instagram @minapark1 or check out her website www.sook.hk to get the latest updates for her pop-up events!
Plantation Hong Kong
Shop B 1-4 Tai On Terrace
Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
+852 3482 2660