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Winter Kimchi with Chestnuts

Written By Culinary Pen on Wednesday, February 18, 2015 | 9:31:00 AM

This is a jar of kimchi that I started at the beginning of the year.  Youngjoo mentioned that in winter that people would add chestnuts (and sometimes raw oysters) to their kimchi, which sounded wild to me at the time.

Cabbage and Chestnuts
I was really surprised by all the chestnuts stalls on the streets of Seoul in winter.  What especially stood out to me was the custom of eating a raw chestnut from a vendor before buying a whole bag of their roasted chestnuts.  I'd never even considered eating a chestnut raw before.  Watching this, it reminded me of a shopper tasting a grape at the grocers, seeking out the sweetest bunch before settling on a bag to take home.

This recipe followed my basic recipe for kimchi: Napa cabbage cut into 1/8th sections, lots of scallions cut into 3" lengths, and a large Daikon radish peeled and cut into batons.

The sauce is salt, fish sauce, gochugaru chile flakes, garlic, and ginger.   I wasn't sure what kind of ratio of chestnuts I should add, so I just mixed in a bunch of cooked and peeled chestnuts until it seemed likely that you'd get a few chestnuts each time you removed a section of cabbage.

After about six weeks, the chestnuts have really absorbed the spicy, heady flavors of the fermenting kimchi.  The chestnuts still have some of their original flavor and sweetness, but mostly they just add a unique, meaty texture to the soft squoosh of the cabbage tips and the crunch of the daikon and cabbage hearts.  The chestnuts are beginning to get a bit fragile and crumbly as time goes on,which is something else I didn't expect.

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