Possam Kimchi, Cabbage Wrapped Kimchi
This kimchi is a provincial specialty of Gaesong, the ancient capital city of the Koryo Dynasty (918-1392). In the Royal Kitchen, where it originated, it was simply called “ssam kimchi.”It is the most attractive and refined kimchi among all kimchi. The list of the ingredients in the original recipe is very extensive, including rare and hard to find ones such as gingo nuts, chestnuts, Korean watercress, jujubes, persimmon, dried shrimp and more. Even to Korean cooks, this kimchi making is rather challenging. But I think that we must not discouraged by the long list of ingredients. In this simplified recipe, I omitted a few ingredients that we can do without. The attractive look and exquisite flavor of this kimchi will please quests and friends, I am sure. And it is loaded with nutrition.
Makes about 6 quarts
About 1 hour to prepare and 2 days to mature
5 pounds napa cabbage, carefully selected for its lush leaves
2 cups coarse sea salt
2 tablespoons sweet rice flour
Juice from ½ cup saeu jeot (salted shrimp), strained
1 tablespoon goch’u garu
½ pound mu (Korean radishes), peeled and cut into 1-inch thin domino shape
1 Korean pear, peeled, cored, and cut into thin domino shapes
1 firm granny smith apple, peeled, cored, and cut into thin domino shapes
5 walnut halves, slivered
2 mustard greens, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 green onions, white and pale green part only, cut into 1 ½ – inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, peeled, grated then strained
¼ cup sugar
2 ounces fresh ginger, skinned, grated and strained into juice
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 tablespoons sil goch’u
2 tablespoons pine nuts
10 raisins, halved
2 fresh p’yogo mushrooms, thinly slivered
Wash the cabbage once and drain. Remove the rough outer leaves and reserve for other use. Trim off the very bottom of the cabbage, leaving enough of the root end intact to hold the cabbage together. On a cutting board, hold one cabbage, root end up, with one hand and, with a sharp knife, slice the cabbage into halves lengthwise halfway down. With both hands, split the cabbage into halves. (In this way, the halves will divide cleanly.) Wash once more, but do not drain. In a large bowl, place the water drenched cabbage pieces in one layer with cut sides up. Sprinkle 1 1/2-cup salt between leaves. Dissolve the remaining ½-cup salt into 1-cup lukewarm water, and sprinkle evenly over the cabbage. Let set for 2 hours. Shift the cabbage every half hour for even salting. Rinse a couple times and drain well on a colander. Set aside. Discard the salt water and reuse the bowl for stuffing.
Cut off the leafy top 5 inches and select 25 well formed leaves, and set aside. Cut the remaining stem parts into 1-inch domino shape and place in the large bowl.
To make the stuffing, in a small saucepan, dissolve the sweet rice flour in 2-cups water. Bring to a boil and decrease the heat to medium-low. Gently cook for 2 minutes, until it becomes a thin paste, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Let cool. Add the saeu jeot juice and goch‘u garu and mix well. Add to the bowl with the cabbage pieces. Add the remaining ingredients, reserving 1 tablespoon sil goch’u, 1 tablespoon of pine nuts, 10 raisin halves, and 10 slivers of p’yogo mushroom. Toss well. Divide the stuffing and garnishes into 5 portions.
Prepare 5 bowls, about 5-inch in diameter and 2-inch deep. In each bowl, overlap 5 cabbage leaves around the bottom, leaving the top 2-inches extending over the rim. Fill with one portion of stuffing and add one portion of the garnishes in an attractive pattern. Fold the leaves over neatly until the wrap resembles a tightly closed small Savoy cabbage. Transfer it to a wide mouthed 6-quart jar with a screw-top lid. Repeat with the remaining ingredients, making a total of 5 kimchi wraps.
Add the juice remaining in the bowls to the jar. Add a little water to the bowl to mix with any remaining bits and pieces of the stuffing. Pour over the kimchi. All must be immersed in liquid. Be sure to leave at least 2-inch headspace. Close the jar tight and double wrap in a plastic bag. Let mature at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. Transfer to the refrigerator to stop the fermentation. The kimchi will stay fresh for 1 month or more.
Serve one pouch in individual glass dishes, allowing each guest to unwrap their own as a surprise package. As a side dish, possam kimchi goes well with any elaborate entree.
Vegetarian recipe: To make this kimchi strictly vegetarian, replace salted shrimps with ½ tablespoon salt.