One of the greatest parts of shopping at the farmers’ market is finding unusual vegetables. The farmers in our area are quite market-savvy and fairly daring in trying new crops. This past Saturday I spotted perilla leaves on one of the farmer’s tables. Not the small purple-red leaves I’ve seen growing here, but the bright green leaves as large as my outstretched hand. I immediately bought all he had so I could make a variety of kimchi that I had seen recipes for and pictures of but never eaten- khaennip kimchi.
And then Sunday a horrible thing happened. Something we’ve been dreading for a while now. Our beloved camera, which has bravely been used and abused for over three years now, jammed when I was out taking photos in the yard. My husband googled the problem and says he knows how to fix it, but until he has the time and the courage to take the camera apart, we have to rely on cell phone cameras. Cell phone cameras are great in many situations. Taking photos for this blog isn’t among them. This took the wind out of my sails a bit, but kimchi waits for no man… or camera.
Summer varieties of kimchi don’t have a long life, unlike winter varieties of kimchi, so I made a bastardized version of beef bibimbap to eat our khaennip kimchi with. I substituted sriracha for gojuchang, and stir-fried squash and bitter melon instead of spinach and mushrooms to make a seasonal late-summer bibimbap-inspired rice dish. The traditional khaennip kimchi was sharp, spicy, and refreshing, and a great counterpoint to the rich mixed rice and beef.
Perilla Leaf Summer Kimchi (Khaennip Kimchi)
I first heard about this dish on Maangchi’s fantastic cooking website. I’m looking forward to shredding the rest, stir-frying it with leftover rice and a bit of Szechuan bacon, and eating it with a fried egg on top.
30 large green perilla leaves, or a mix of green and purple
1/2 c Korean chile powder, coarse ground for kimchi
2 tbl honey
3-4 tbl fish sauce
1 bunch of garlic chives, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, shredded
about a tbl of toasted sesame seeds
Carefully wash and dry the perilla leaves. Trim off any thick stems or bruised parts. Find a nonreactive dish with a lid large enough to lay the leaves flat.
Mix together the chile powder, honey, and fish sauce. Add enough water to make a thick paste. Lay a large leaf in your hand and smear the paste onto the leaf in a thin layer with the back of a spoon. Lay the leaf in the bottom of the dish. Lay another leaf on top. Repeat. Every few layers, sprinkle with chives, carrot, and sesame seeds. Continue until you run out of leaves. Put immediately into the fridge. Eat within a week.