Sunday, August 12, 2007

Say "Kim Cheez!"

Our adventure began one afternoon when Bug suddenly proposed that we venture to a nearby post to retrieve some provisions for his next experiment: kim chee. Walking out of our camp, we immediately encountered the oppressive blockade of heat and humidity. Gazing into the sky, I was distracted by the dark clouds quickly gathering above us, until a broad white flash and boom jolted me into the present.

Partway through our trek in torrential rain, we had to backtrack since one of the roads had transformed into Lake Erie. Backing up, we passed others who were merrily traveling along at a quick pace unaware of the danger ahead.

By the time I passed through the front door at Good Harvest, past the altar with its soft scent of burning incense, I had forgotten why we were there so I meandered through the aisles, shaking bottles with contents that were unidentifiable from the descriptions on the label, poked at the fresh fish and shellfish, and eventually found myself at the altar of all that is right with the universe - the noodle aisle.

Myojo Chukazanmai - Peking style

Myojo Chukazanmai shoyu, miso, hiyashi, oriental, and rayu are staples in our household because it is by far the best instant ramen available in the US, so we greedily picked up 3-4 of each flavor. We poked around at other ramen packets from Indonesia, Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, and of course Japan, picking up some to experiment -- hot and sour beef, roast beef, spicy garlic, Tokyo shoyu ramen, mi goreng, sukiyaki flavor (ponder), and Nissin tonkotsu ramen (glamorously packaged like Myojo's Chukazanmai line), as well as some old favorites like Sapporo Ichiban yaki soba and Mama tom yum mi tom.

With a jab to the ribs, Bug reminded me of the purpose of our mission. I scurried back to get some bok choy, grabbed some sea salt, and scoured the long aisle of powdered mixes. To my left, 4-5 shelves along the length of the aisle of powdered mixes from all parts of Asia and Hawaii neatly laid out flat, not vertically. There were packets of Indonesian, Thai, and Japanese fried rice mixes, Hawaiian and Chinese packets from Noh, Filipino adobo and kari-kari, miso soup, and other batches of granules. On the other side, a variety of mixes from pouches of powdered mixes, packets of condensed seasoning in oil, to ready-made bags of meat and mushroom soup hanging on hooks from the ground to 6' high.

Is this cheating?

The trip home was uneventful, as if the storm was just an adventurous figment of a blogger's imagination. The sun was shining through the breaks in the wispy white clouds. The only remnants of the rain was the soaked roadway and an occasional branch in the road.

Bug washed, cut, and salted the bok choy in our stew pot. With the pot filled with water, he left a plate on top so the cabbage remained submerged. At around midnight, he washed and drained the cabbage, then added the mix with water, and placed the concoction into an old jar of pickles to sit on our counter for over a day.

We had mushrooms, bean sprouts, green onions, and zucchini so he decided to kim chee them all. Of course, Bug fermented them in my two favorite Tupperware containers.

I was shocked to see how little 5 lbs of cabbage net. It gave us only 1/2 a jar of kim chee. Because it wasn't as spicy as he had hoped, Bug added about a teaspoon of our extra-spicy variety of sriracha to the kim chee, which gave it a wonderful flare...flair.

The mushrooms turned out squishy, as did the bean sprouts. The zucchini was excellent and I hope that we make it again, maybe as white kim chee. I don't eat raw onions, so I have no idea how the green onions turned out but it has since been tossed out along with the mushrooms and bean sprout soup. I should have thrown the Tupperware out as well, because the smell has bonded with the container molecules now. Pew.

- Cassaendra

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