Sweet pears and spicy flavors make for a winning combination. Kimchi, the mainstay of every Korean table, has been gaining mass appeal in recent years. Prized for its health benefits and irresistible spiciness, kimchi is becoming a staple condiment in many homes. If you’ve never made your own, then this version, featuring pears and crunchy root vegetables, is a great place to start. This is a quick kimchi recipe, meant to enjoy immediately. Serve it alongside a simple roast pork with steamed rice and sautéed greens, add it to a vegan grain bowl, place it atop ramen noodles or in lettuce wraps—you’ll find that the ways to enjoy fresh kimchi are endless.
Makes 8 to 10 servings
2 large white root vegetables, such as kohlrabi or turnips
2 large slightly underripe USA Pears
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup chives cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup coarsely ground gochugaru (Korean red chile flakes)
2 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 (1 1/2-inch) piece ginger, peeled and sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled
3 to 4 tablespoons water
Black or toasted white sesame seeds, for garnish
First, trim and peel the root vegetable bulbs and cut them into 2-inch-long by 1/4-inch-thick rectangular sticks (like French fries). Peel and core the pears and cut them the same way. Combine the pear and vegetable sticks in a large bowl and sprinkle with the salt and 1/4 cup of the sugar. Gently but thoroughly massage them in. Set the bowl aside at room temperature until the pears and veggies are tender and pliable and have given up a lot of juices, 20 to 30 minutes, tossing once about halfway through.
Drain off the accumulated juices, and rinse in several changes of cold water, then drain well and gently press out as much moisture as possible. Return the pear mixture to the bowl and add the chives.
Process the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar with the gochugaru, fish sauce, ginger, garlic, and 3 tablespoons water in a food processor to a smooth paste. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of water, if needed. Thoroughly mix the paste into the pear mixture.
The fresh kimchi can be enjoyed immediately, or it can be kept in a container with a tight-fitting lid and kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Sprinkle with sesame seeds before serving.
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