In a pickle: Bill Granger is crazy for kimchi - Features - Food + Drink - The Independent

In a pickle: Bill Granger is crazy for kimchi

Kimchi pickles are Korea's national obsession – and now they’re Bill Granger’s, too

I like to think that I pretty much have my finger on the pulse when it comes to fashion and lifestyle trends – but if you'd told me five years ago that making preserves would become one of the favourite pastimes of the Hoxton crowd, I would have struggled to believe you.

But these days no self-respecting restaurant buys in its jams and pickles, and health gurus everywhere are raving about the digestive benefits of fermenting tea, beans or cabbage at home. As for me, I've been making my own kimchi, another unlikely food trend that has taken London by storm in the past couple of years.

At the expense of sounding cheap, I've always loved the little bowls of free food you get in restaurants – olive oil to dip your bread into in Italian trattorias, chutneys in Indian restaurants and in Korean restaurants it's different varieties of kimchi that get me excited.

This pungent fermented vegetable or fish pickle is eaten with almost everything in Korea. I didn't quite realise what a national obsession it is until I took a recent trip to the Seoul food markets, and saw stand after stand selling an infinite variety – baby crab, fish, shrimp, cabbage – all given the kimchi treatment. Here's my simple version, and two ideas on how to use it up.

Bill's restaurant, Granger & Co, is at 175 Westbourne Grove, London W11, tel: 020 7229 9111, grangerandco.com

Kimchi

This is such a straightforward recipe. The result tastes fresher than most kimchi, which is just the way I like it. Even so, store it in the fridge in a well-sealed container to avoid neighbours gossiping about the pungent smell coming from your place.

Makes about 1kg

80g coarse sea salt
80g soft brown sugar
1 head garlic, cloves chopped
5 cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
3 tsp kochukaru (Korean chilli powder, available in Asian stores)
80ml fish sauce
80ml light soy sauce

Cut the cabbage lengthwise in half, then cut the halves crosswise into 1in-wide pieces. Toss the cabbage with the salt and sugar in a bowl. Cover and sit in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

Drain the cabbage and rinse quickly in cold running water to remove the excess salt. Combine the garlic, ginger, kochukaru, fish sauce and soy sauce in a large bowl. Spoon into an airtight container, cover, and refrigerate for two days before using. Keep for maximum of two weeks.

It's hard to resist having only one of Bill's BBQ chicken burgers (Martin Poole) It's hard to resist having only one of Bill's BBQ chicken burgers (Martin Poole)
BBQ chicken burger with kimchi 'slaw

It's hard to resist having only one of these burgers, so this recipe makes enough to fill six buns…

Serves 4

For the marinade

2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp apple juice
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 spring onions, chopped
1cm piece ginger, grated
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
6 boned chicken thighs
1 carrot, cut into thin matchsticks
5cm daikon (white radish), cut into thin matchsticks
1 Lebanese cucumber, or ½ regular cucumber, cut into thin matchsticks
150g kimchi, shredded
4 tbsp sour cream
1 tbsp Sriracha chilli sauce
6 white buns

Combine all the ingredients for the marinade in a bowl and toss in the chicken. Cover and chill in the fridge for 1 hour. Place the carrot, radish and cucumber in a bowl and toss through the shredded kimchi. Set aside. In a separate bowl, combine the sour cream and Sriracha. Remove the chicken from the marinade and barbecue or grill over a high heat for 4 to 5 minutes on each side, until cooked through.

Spread the base of the baps with the Sriracha-and-sour-cream mix, top with the chicken and then the kimchi 'slaw.

Bill's noodle soup will leave you satisfied for hours (Martin Poole) Bill's noodle soup will leave you satisfied for hours (Martin Poole)
Kimchi, pork and tofu noodle soup

Rich and bursting with flavour, this filling soup will leave you satisfied for hours.

Serves 4

1 litre light chicken stock
6 spring onions, 4 cut into lengths and 2 shredded
2 tsp gochujang (Korean chilli paste)
125g shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp light-flavoured oil
250g pork belly, thinly sliced into strips
200g kimchi
Large handful bean sprouts
300g egg noodles
150g silken tofu, cut into squares
1 tsp sesame oil
Spring onion, shredded

Pour the stock into a large pan. Add the spring onions, chilli paste, mushrooms and soy and bring to the boil. Simmer gently for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the pork and stir-fry until it is golden. Add the kimchi and beansprouts and cook, stirring until warmed though.

Cook the noodles according to packet instructions then divide between 4 large soup bowls. Add the tofu, and the pork and kimchi mixture to the bowls. Stir the sesame oil into the pan with the simmering stock and ladle into bowls. Serve immediately, topped with shredded spring onion.

Food preparation: Rosie Reynolds and Marina Filippelli;

Props merchandising: Rachel Jukes

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