If you’re like me, you LOVE kimchi, but sometimes don’t love having to make it. Preparing the paste (and in particular peeling garlic!) is the most time-consuming (and annoying!) part of the process. Sure, you could shortcut this step, by buying pre-peeled garlic, but it’s highly perishable and (for domestically grown garlic) expensive. You can find less expensive peeled garlic which comes from China. I embrace the realities of the global economy (most of our “stuff” these days is made somewhere in Asia), but when it comes to sourcing food ingredients, I prefer to buy domestically and as locally as possible.
Spending time up front to make the paste you will eventually slather all over some lucky vegetables is worth the effort.
The paste stores and keeps well in the refrigerator when tightly sealed in a glass jar. I use wide-mouth jars for this purpose– it’s easy to scoop it out when you need it with a gloved hand. I’ve had paste kept fine for a month, and I bet it would go up to two months if needed.
This is a vegan variety; if you want to make it more traditional (“fishy”), add a few canned anchovies to the paste before blending. Or, add a few splashes of preservative-free fish sauce, or make your own fermented fish sauce! You can also splash fish sauce while mixing and packing the fermenting vessel if you wanted to keep the paste vegan.
What brand of gochugaru (Korean red pepper powder) to use? I try to find one made in Korea, although most brands grow their peppers in, you’ll never guess, China! This brand is grown and made in Korea.
We finally found truly Korean-grown gochugaru. It cost about $25-$30/lb./500g. This brand is seasonally available (we found this in late September) at HMart, an Asian grocery chain in the U.S. You can also order it online here. More info about this product (in Korean) here.
Make-ahead kimchi paste lasts at least 2 months when tightly sealed in the fridge. Note that we are not fermenting the paste; simply prepping it for when we are ready to ferment a batch of kimchi.
- 12-14 scallions (green onions), about 2-3 bunches, weighing 250g/10 oz.
- 120g peeled garlic (about 3 bulbs)
- 80g fresh ginger (about a 4-5 inch/10-15cm piece size)
- 2 fluid ounces/60ml tamari or soy sauce
- 1 cup/240ml by volume, 130g by weight coarse red pepper powder (gochugaru)
- (Optional) 2 Tbsp./30ml fish sauce or 2 or 3 canned anchovies
- Peel then roughly chop the garlic. You can smash it to help remove the paper, but I prefer the flavor if it is kept intact.
- Scrub ginger to remove dirt. If organic, you can leave skin on. Otherwise, peel ginger with a spoon. Roughly chop ginger.
- Cut root ends from scallions (about 1 inch from end), and slice them (white and green parts) into ½ inch (1 cm) pieces.
- Add scallions, ginger, and garlic to a blender or the work bowl of a food processor. For a food processor with a 7 to 10 cup bowl or smaller, you'll likely need multiple batches.
- Add pepper powder and tamari/soy sauce.
- Start the food processor, and mix altogether until a thick paste forms and it "rolls" together when the machine is running. (You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times). You may also need to add a little extra tamari to adjust the texture.
- Transfer the paste into an airtight wide-mouth mason jar. Cover tightly and store in refrigerator until you're ready to paste up some veggies.
- Paste lasts in the refrigerator up to 3 months.