Persimmon Kimchi at Kimchi 101

Persimmon Kimchi

Last week, I was lucky enough to be invited to the headquarters of CHAM Korean Bistro (Pasadena) and iT! Jeans for a kimchi pickling workshop. We were treated to CHAM cocktails made with sparkling wine, yuzu, Korean Makgeolli as well as tofu rice pockets filled with everything from kimchi (and candied anchovies) to seaweed salad, pepper-encrusted ahi tuna and salted and roasted kale chips. It was a dinner filled with Korean fusion delight.

Chef EJ Jeong during her Kimchi 101 demo

For the learning portion, we got a demonstration on how CHAM makes their kimchi, with recipes and instruction straight from Chef EJ Jeong (formerly of A.O.C. and BOA). Check Cathy of Gastronomyblog‘s great write-up of the Napa Cabbage kimchi we were all taught to make.

After our appetizers, kimchi lesson and delicious main course (pork shoulder, cabbage kimchi, salted shrimp and sesame leaves) – we got a taste of a different kind of kimchi, which ended up being my favorite of the night: Persimmon kimchi! The recipe for this is actually the same as the traditional cabbage kimchi, save for the elimination of salted shrimp. It became intuitive that fishy, salty persimmons are not appetizing. But the subtle and firm sweetness of the persimmon is paired so perfectly with the chili flavoring I’ve learned to love in Korean kimchi. It was like a live, Korean version of the Trader Joe’s dried chili red mangos that are so popular. An interesting tip with this recipe is to use unripe persimmons, because they will actually ripen as they are fermenting in their container and in your refrigerator!

Chef EJ Jeong’s Persimmon Kimchi Recipe

Ingredients:
2 lb peeled persimmons
12 oz kimchi marinade

Kimchi mixture

Kimchi marinade ingredients:1 cup sweet rice powder
5 cups purified water
2 lb radish
4 oz minari
4 oz kat (red mustard)
4 oz Korean chives (thinner than Chinese chives)
5 oz garlic
10 oz Asian pear (peeled)
9 oz onion (peeled)
1 oz ginger (peeled)
1 cup Taeyangcho rd chili pepper powder (coarse)
1/4 cup anchovy fish sauce (Korean)
3/4 cup salted shrimp sauce (Korean)
4 oz fresno
4 oz green onion

Preparation & Procedure: How to make porridge
Mix puried water with sweet rice powder, dissolving the power until there are no lumps. Heat the water and rice powder mixture over the stovetop, stirring occasionally to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pot. When it starts to form bubbles, reduce heat and stir continuously. Once the mixture becomes thicker and is translucent, turn the heat off. The process from once the mixture is heated to when it becomes the correct consistency and color takes approximately ten minutes. Cool down completely.

Preparation & Procedure
Mix together.
Enjoy!

 
I’m no hotshot in the kitchen, but I plan on giving persimmon kimchi a try. And if you feel so inclined to get your own kimchi education, CHAM is luckily going to be hosting another workshop on Saturday. You’ll get to take home your own jar of cabbage kimchi so you can leave it in your refrigerator to ferment for at least 20 days before eating. It’s the workshop that keeps on giving!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

11:30 AM to 2:30 PM

$40 per person – includes Korean tapas, a cocktail, and kimchi to take home.

Making Kimchi with Chef EJ Jeong
Cham Bistro R&D Kitchen
5251 S. Santa Fe Avenue
Vernon, CA 90058

Email [email protected] Class is capped at 20 people

Favorites from Cham Korean Bistro

Tofu Crouton Salad | Fried tofu, butter lettuce, sauteed kale, spicy sunflower seeds, black sesame vinaigrette

I’ve found a couple more reasons to eat in Pasadena. With those reasons being a few favorite dishes at CHAM, I thought I’d share the news of the now one-year old Korean bistro that is actually an off-shoot of the spectacular, all-meals-prepared employee perks program of iT! jeans. The creators of the jeans line and the bistro are one and the same, and casual Pasadena diners are reaping the benefits of their kitchen.

Pickle Sampler | White asparagus, beets, carrots, onions

This is definitely approachable Korean food – so all you hardcore types can save your money while those who have been previously scared away by these flavors can appreciate the foray into Korean cuisine. A great starter with a spin on the traditional was their pickle sampler, which showcases white asparagus, sweet onions, carrots and thinly sliced beets. I appreciated that the brines in which each of the vegetables were specialized with the beets and onions being sweet yet the carrots and white asparagus having a perfect amount of sour. The white asparagus was my favorite, if only because I’ve rarely seen it prepared pickled, before.

Spicy Cold Bibim Noodles | Assorted seasonal vegetables, spicy chili sauce, crispy rice, boiled egg

My favorite sugared chili dish was the Spicy Cold Bibim Noodles. Bibimbab, it’s not; cold noodles with just the right, spicy flavoring to go with its cool temperature and texture – it sure is. While the dish wasn’t traditional, the flavors seemed like it.

My other favorite dish was the Tofu Crouton Salad. The tofu were perfectly fried with an almost-tempura like texture on the outside. The butter lettuce was the perfect choice of greenery with barley to add a perfect weight. The black sesame vinaigrette was thankfully not too sweet and ultimately delicious.

Watermelon Salad | Arugula, watermelon, feta, mint, figs, mint vinaigrette

The other favorite at this Korean Bistro is decidedly not Korean food – but let’s not fault Executive chef E.J. Jeong (former A.O.C.) for having an imagination, shall we? This other favorite featured very sweet, cubed watermelon at its center with refreshing mint notes in the salad and in the vinaigrette and generous helpings of earthy feta and figs sprinkled on top. This is the quintessential summer treat.

Raspberry Lambic Beer Float

The kicker of this eatery is that their beer list is rather intriguing and offers great pairings with the vibrant flavors of your Korean-style food. Sure, there is Hite, but also the Maredsous 8, Oskar Blues (Mama’s Little Yella Pils), Houblon (Chouffe Dobbelen IPA Tripel) and Lost Abbey’s Devotion. The wine list is also modest but really, all you need. I especially enjoyed the Saddlerock Chardonnay straight from Malibu with my food.

The next time I’m in Pasadena (I am located further east, after all) and need a bite – or three – to eat, I would certainly stop by Cham. While this isn’t the place to order your soon tofu on the scale of spiciness like an O.G. Korean eatery, Cham is a place that does justice to and serves its influences well.

P.S. – At the end of your meal, don’t forget the raspberry lambic beer float made with Framboise. Unlike other beer floats, this one is decidedly a dessert for your sweet tooth!

All food, beer and wine were hosted.

Hours:
Mon – Sat: 11 AM – 9 PM
Closed Sunday

Cham Korean Bistro
851 Cordova St.
Pasadena, CA 91101
626.792.2474