Kale Kimchi: The dishwasher is broken

For HYK – thank you for the inspiration!

It seems that my life is forever peppered by appliances in my kitchen that break.  Since moving to the US, I’ve gotten a new oven (I actually need to replace my oven again, because the glass is broken, but that’s for another time), a new stove with two different sets of repairs, and now – the crowning achievement in my kitchen breaking appliance coursework…the dishwasher.

THE DISHWASHER!!!  I can only scream it aloud because it is, by far, my MOST USED APPLIANCE!

I need to write an ode to my dishwasher, because after 7 years living in Asia without one, the thing I wanted most in my kitchen in the US was a dishwasher, and is the appliance I repeatedly use, again, again, and again, and again.

Last night, however, as I ran the dishes, I came upon a very not so good smell of burning plastic – and opened the dishwasher to find the heating coil had melted through the plastic liner.  Even that description should tell you – it is not a good situation.  Right after I made that discovery and with a look of shock and dismay on my face, Husband walked through the door.

“What’s wrong?” he asked worriedly.  “Is everything okay?”

“NO!  It’s not okay!  The dishwasher is broken!”

“Oh.  Well, just buy a new one.”

I don’t think Husband understood my panic with my non-functioning dishwasher.  My dishwasher is my best friend EVERY SINGLE DAY in my kitchen.  I check in on her first thing in the morning, unloading her and stacking the dishes and putting them away before the kids wake up.  Right after breakfast, I begin loading her back up full of all the empty plates and whatnot.  After I eat my lunch, Son comes home with his lunch box full of things to wash, and all my dinner prep is done, I generally finish loading her and wash again.  If I bake, there is an extra wash for the dishwasher to do.  If I do a lot of leftover eating, then there are tons of containers to do.  If I cook with milk or egg, large pots and pans make a visit into the dishwasher. You get the picture.  My run down, old dishwasher is my sidekick, my bestie, my most reliable in the kitchen.

Just buy a new one?

How does one replace their sidekick?  Not easily it turns out.  Since it takes me such a long time to decide to befriend a person, it’s obvious that such difficult would come with the territory when choosing my kitchen sidekick.  Suddenly I was faced with price, efficiency of the machine itself, color, maintenance, style, functions, stainless tub or not, heated dry or not, German or domestic and the final question of how quickly it could make it into my kitchen.

There are no easy answers it seems.  My own personal level of stress regarding this replacement of my best friend has led me down the path of tears twice in a day, with one good friend saying, “You need to grow some thicker skin” and Husband bellowing on the phone, “JUST BUY THE ONE YOU WANT” and of course, my being stymied by it all.

Actually, what I want is for my old dishwasher to just keep on chugging away, as she did, getting my dishes as clean as she did and working for me faithfully, as she has for the past 6 years.  Why did she leave me in the first place?

Kimchi, for many people, is something that they expect in a certain way, with a certain cabbage, and a certain flavoring.  I grew up refusing to eat anyone’s kimchi except for my own mother’s or grandmothers’ and the rest were pushed aside with my nose in the air.  That has long since changed since Mom no longer makes kimchi and mom in law makes it for me or I buy it.  Kimchi, my long trusted sidekick, has also had to be replaced.

I’ve been experimenting with kale in Korean food these days, as I do think that kale works well with the stronger richer notes of Korean cooking.  My most recent attempt was turning kale into kimchi, which I did a couple of days ago to great success.  I used dinosaur kale, and I found that the leaves stayed crisp and crunchy and the bitter notes were off set by the spicy garlicky flavors of the kimchi itself, and it was the perfect condiment to my Korean meal.  It’s relatively simple to make and you can make a jar for yourself and your sidekick with no problem.

Just don’t expect your dishwasher to always stick around for you.

Kale Kimchi
Makes 4 cups kimchi

2 bunches of dinosaur kale, toughest white part of the stem removed, washed and roughly cut into bite sized pieces (if you can get organic, this is nice to use here)
¼ cup fish sauce (possibly more)
¼ cup mochiko (sweet rice flour)
1 ½ cups water
2 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons Korean red chili powder (gochugaroo)
¼ cup finely chopped garlic

Place chopped washed kale in a large bowl.  Drizzle fish sauce over the entire bowl and toss, lightly coating all the leaves with fish sauce.  Set aside.  The fish sauce will help draw out some of the water and being “wilting” the kale.

In a small saucepan add mochiko powder, water and sugar.  Place pan and begin heating rice flour water mixture of medium high heat.  Whisk and stir constantly, until mixture begins to thicken and bubble.  Continue whisking for another minute longer.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

After kale has been resting with fish sauce for about 45 minutes, and rice flour mixture is warm, carefully drain the fish sauce in the bottom of the kale bowl into the rice flour mixture.

To rice flour mixture add Korean red chili powder and finely chopped garlic.  Mix together making a red paste.  Taste.  Mixture should be salty.  Add a bit of fish sauce if necessary.  Using your hands (covered with disposable glove), mix red rice flour paste with kale, using a gentle touch, until all kale leaves are coated.

In nice wide mouth jars, pack kale kimchi in.  Do not over stuff jars (leave some room at the top for fermentation process) and leave outside for 2 hours until fully cooled.  Refrigerate.

Flavor of kimchi changes the longer it ferments.  Check after 24 hours to see if you like the flavor.  Try again in 48 hours, and keep tasting until the flavor you like comes out.  Some people prefer a less fermented flavor, so eat it sooner and those who like a more mellow fermented flavor, eat later.


Printable recipe

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