How to Make Homemade Kimchi

About a week ago, I got a box full of napa cabbages from my aunt’s farm and was thinking of ways to use them up. Many were given away to friends and family, but a good number of them, I decided to set aside and 5 of them and make some homemade kimchi. It’s actually much easier than I thought and doesn’t take too long either. Here’s the “recipe” that we used, based on Evelyn’s grandmother’s recipe.

  • 5 napa cabbages – halved
  • 2 cups Korean hot red pepper powder
  • 1 cup Korean fish sauce
  • 5 heads garlic
  • 2 bunches green onions
  • 1 large bunch chives
  • 1 lb ginger
  • 3/4 cups salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar

As a side note, these are all estimates as we just started chopping and mixing and tasting the mix as we went. You want a good balance of salty and spicy to go along with the flavours of the other ingredients. Think about kimchi that you eat at various Korean restaurants – what does it taste like? Do you prefer it saltier? Spicier? Use that as a general gauge of how the sauce tastes.


  1. Slice cabbages in half and soak in a large container/pot/bowl for several hours or overnight. The leaves will start to soften and wilt from the salt. The water should be salty, and mine was almost like sea water salty.
  2. Chop veggies and combine with the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix to combine. A  few tips – cut veggies “diagonally”, so you get long thin slices of the green onions and chives. I used a food processor for the garlic and ginger.
  3. Using your hands (get gloves if you don’t want your hands to smell and turn red from the sauce), mix the ingredients together.
  4. Drain cabbage and carefully start rubbing the sauce all over the cabbage halves and in between each of the leaves. You want the sauce to try to coat all surfaces of the cabbage. Squeeze cabbage together and pack tightly in a jar. I used 2 large pickle jars for the cabbages.
  5. Place any leaves that fall off at the top of the jar once all the heads are packed tightly in the jar.
  6. Seal and leave the jar at room temperature overnight, then in a cool refrigerated area.
  7. I found local Ontario garlic at the Korean grocery store, and the napa cabbages were locally grown from my aunt’s farm just north of the city. I can also grow the chives and green onions and chili peppers for a more locally sourced dish – though the fish sauce, salt and sugar I’m not so sure about…..


  1. I also threw in a few of my backyard grown and dried cayenne peppers.
  2. I think the Korean red pepper flakes use cayenne peppers judging from the picture on the packaging ,but I’m not sure. This, along with the fish sauce (the ingredients were listed as anchovies and salt) are the secret sauce that give kimchi and a lot of Korean food their distinctive flavour.
  3. Feel free to taste and eat the cabbage as you go to get a sense of how the sauce tastes.
  4. Go to a Korean grocery store for the ingredients – especially the red pepper flakes and fish sauce. I found a whole shelf devoted to fish sauce and soy sauce at mine.
  5. Enjoy – the kimchi should last for several months in the fridge or cool place – I plan on keeping mine in our unheated cold room
  6. When jamming the sauce in between each of the cabbage layers, start from the middle outward. It is much easier than working from the outside in.

And now for some pictures for your viewing pleasure:

mise-en-place (of the raw ingredients at least)

a food processor makes for a great time saver in the kitchen

diagonal cut chives and green onions

round one of the sauce (we ended up making it in 2 batches)

shoving the sauce into all parts of the leaves

hard at work in the kitchen

rubbing that oh-so-delicious kimchi sauce into the cabbage leaves

the final product – two large pickle jars worth with a clementine in the foreground for perspective


November 2010 Review

November has been another hectic month. On one hand, things were lighter as we wrapped up the last of the gardens still needing some work. On the other hand, administrative tasks and backburner projects have now come to the fore and are taking up a lot of my time these days.

It’s been good catching up on a lot of office work, and nice to know that I don’t have to be out and about as much in the cold weather these days. There’s nothing quite like a big, hot mug of steaming tea to keep you company while you go about your work day.

I’ve been thinking about changing around the stye of my monthly updates (again). A while ago, I tried inclulding more reflections on the months activities rather than just a summary of the activities, but found it to be very long and time consuming to write. While I want to continue writing a summary of the fun and interesting activities that happened over the past month, sometimes I feel this monthly review post isn’t the right forum for it. Some of the bigger events deserved a post of their own like the recent one I done on the CFSC conference (not to mention finding the time to write is always challenging) and some events which were really fun I find don’t always warrant a place in these updates. I have yet to figure out a good system or way to write these reviews, so if any of you have any suggestions, I’m all ears! For now though, I’ll stick with my trusty method of posting about the fun and exciting things this past November.


1. So You Think You(th) Can Cook Content
Through my involvement with the Toronto Youth Food Policy Council, I had the chance to act a judge for the 2nd annual So You Think You(th) Can Cook contest held at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair at the Exhbition Place. Along with renowned Toronto chef Brad Long, last year’s winner Hudson Bernard, and Jeff ODonnell of Foodland Ontario, we were treated to cooking demonstration of 3 young people and their original recipes incorporating Foodland Ontario products.

This was the first time I’ve ever had the chance to judge a cooking contest and was very excited for it. Each of the participants had 20 minutes to prepare one dish (prep work could be done in advance) for the judges to taste and assess out of a 40 point scale. 20 points went to taste, 10 points went to creativity and 10 points went to a third category – something about food knowledge or something like that.

Overall, it was a great event, with the 3 finalists cooking up 3 very different dishes. You can find a link to  the recipes and a video of the first part of the cooking contest.

There’s a lot more I would like to write about my thoughts and experiences (such as cooking styles, presentation styles, tasting notes, judging notes, and more on the contest as a whole, but in the interest of brevity, we’ll leave it here for now.



2. Foodie networking event
Near the beginning of the month, I was invited to a foodie networking event by Wayne Roberts. I forget the exact name of the event, but a whole bunch of people involved in the local food scene and eco-friendly scene were there. It was inspiring to meet and connect with some familiar faces, but also with a number of people I hadn’t met before. One person in particular who I had the chance to meet in person (we had emailed back a forth a couple times several months ago) was Candice Batista. It was great to connect with her, and that meeting eventually turned into another opportunity for me. Which brings me to item #3.

As a random aside, I’m not a big fan of the word “foodie”. I used it in this case more out of laziness, rather than spending the time to finding another suitable word.


3. My First TV Interview
After re-introducing myself to Candice, she mentioned that she was filming a tv episode the following week and was looking for local food initiatives to be featured in it. There was still a spot she needed to fill and invited me to participate. So the following week, I headed out to the local tv studio at recorded a short segment for an upcoming episode of @Issue, which airs on the television station iChannel (aka Intelligent Channel). While the studio was quite small and very unassuming, it was a fantastic experience and I saw a whole bunch of other people involved in the local food scene there for the taping as well.

While I don’t believe this program puts their program online, they did say they will send me a DVD copy of the interview and the tentative idea plan is for the piece to air sometime in the new year.


4. Feature in the Queen’s alumni magazine
This November, I was also featured in the Queen’s alumni magazine. They actually did a whole article about us for the online version of the mag, and a small text box/photo in the print copy. It was great see the article finally go live as I think we got interviewed for it during the summer months, and only now was it going to print.

I’m getting ahead of myself here, but my non-profit organization also was featured in blogTO: link


5. Remembrance Day
November 11 is Canada’s Remembrance Day where we honour and remember our members of the armed forces who have served on duty since WWI. I think I mentioned this briefly in another post, but every now and then, I stop and think about how lucky we are to live in a free and democratic society. It truly is a priceless gift for the countless opportunities we have and something we too often take for granted.


6. Tour of the Ontario Food Terminal
As a followup to the cooking contest, all the judges and participants had the chance to take a tour of the Ontario Food Terminal. The food terminal is usually closed to the public, and is the primary clearing house for fresh produce across Southern Ontario. While this was my second time here, this time, we had a chance to meet with the general manager and learn about the history, key statistics, challenges, environmental initiatives, and general story of the terminal. I’ve been meaning to put together a blog post on this (probably won’t happen), but you can see another review by another person here.


7. Frisbee
Frisbee started again for me this month, and I forgot how intense indoor speed point can be. Even though our games are only an hour, I felt that I was running hard almost non stop. I’m excited for this indoor season as there’s a mix of new and old players on the team. In an interesting turn of events, I figured out where my indoor turf shoes had gone after I thought I had lost them many years ago. It turns out that when I moved out of University, I had left a whole bunch of things in my old apartment including my old turf shoes. The next tenants were friends of ours who also happened to play frisbee, and Steve (the new tenant) just so happened to hang on to the shoes, also happened to be on my team, bring them out to the game, and mention that he thought those shoes might be mine. It looks like the shoes are still in good shape as I don’t think he wore them much – not to mention that I don’t think they fit him all too well anyways. It’s like Christmas came early with an unexpected surprise


8. Chocolate fondue
I just had to write about this. I mean, who can’t resist a chocolate fondue – with all that melted chocolate-y goodness. I must have dipped anything and everything I could find in it including chocolate cupcakes (yum!), mixed fruit (double yum!), veggie sticks (not so yum), pretzels, marshmallows, graham crackers, and more. Thanks to Mike and Wing for hosting us that evening and setting up this delicious fondue.


9. YSEC Pitch Competition
On a bit of a whim, and as spur-of-the moment decision, I entered my non-profit organization into a  pitch competition. The competition was put on by a group called the Young Social Entrepreneurs of Canada (YSEC), whose mission is to promote social enterprises. A week or so after we applied, we were notified that we had been shortlisted as one of the final candidates and were invited to attend the final competition.

In total, 5 finalists were short listed to compete for 2 “prizes”. I put prizes in quotation because the winners end up receiving a $1,000 grant. It was actually quite nice knowing that when we entered the competition, we went in not having an urgent need for the money. Despite that, there were many other reasons why we entered into the competition

  • for the publicity and exposure (especially as a new organization) (featured in BlogTO and maybe another upcoming media mention)
  • for the networking and contacts we would meet (have arranged a number of coffee meetings as a result of the event)
  • for the practice (it’s always nice to brush up and practice your presentation skills)
  • and to refine our story (I can now give off a clear, concise, 30-60 second elevator pitch w/out hesitation)

I kind of gave it away already, but we were selected as one of the winners of the pitch competition. Ron and I went out to celebrate afterward, and it was a nice escape from all of the office/computer work I’d been doing all that previous week.

I’m sure more updates on this and other related things will be coming soon.


10. Speaking Engagement for Food Forward Event
Also a last minute event, I was asked to participate and share my thoughts on entrepreneurship and creating your own opportunities in the food world at an event put on by a new organization, Food Forward. I didn’t really have too much time to prepare, and ended up sharing a lot of my thoughts on entrepreneurship and why everyone should take this initiative. Again, it was a great opportunity, and chance to practice and refine my public speaking skills.


11. Meeting up with old friends
November was also interested in that I met up and saw some friends I hadn’t seen in a while – 1 since high school, and several I hadn’t seen in a year or a couple of years. In all cases, it was nice to catch up and hear what everyone is up to.

That’s it for now. There is probably a lot more I can write about, but I’ll leave it here for now


This month’s closing quotation is about one of my favourite topics: food.

To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art

-La Rochefoucauld

New Orleans Initial Thoughts

I’ve been in New Orleans for almost 48 hours now and found a bit of time for this quick update. Overall, the city is a lively place with an almost palpable atmosphere I would describe as that warm fuzzy feeling you’re having a good time surrounded by people who know how to enjoy life. Maybe this is what people mean when they talk about Southern hospitality. People here are friendly and never seem to be in a rush (except maybe the tourists).

For some background information, the reason I’m in New Orleans is to attend the 14th Annual Community Food Security Conference. I’m helping to represent the Toronto Youth Food Policy Council in leading a workshop on Monday afternoon on “Engaging Youth Within the Food Policy Framework.” While much of the time so far has been taken up with the conference, I did have some time to explore the town after I got in Friday night and a bit on Saturday afternoon.

For the most part, food, beverage, and jazz have been the dominating themes of the past little while. In fact, as I’m writing this, there is a marching band walking down Canal St (one of the main streets in New Orleans).


In regards to food, Southern food is full of rich, fried, morsels of tasty goodness. Some of the interesting things I’ve had while here is blackened alligator, gumbo, red beans and rice, crab cakes, Rockefeller oysters, cochon au lait , and biegnets. Things I have yet to try are jambalaya, crawfish, crabs and po boy sandwiches. Yes, eating and food is a passion of mine and I’m glad my metabolism still allows me to enjoy all of this without too many ill effects. Pictures, descriptions, and tasting notes coming soon. Food here seems to be more expensive than other cities (ex. a street dog cost around $5 or $6 from the French Quarter).


In regards to drinking, Friday night was by far one of the wildest nights I’ve had in a while. We started off with a local beer Abita I tried one of their “harvest” beers, a Sasuma Belgium Wit, which features local Louisiana ingredients. It was surprisingly tasty. An interesting side note is that it appears to be the case that open beverages are allowed and openly consumed while wandering the streets.

One of the more interesting things we tried to liven things up was a local cocktail named “The Hand Grenade”. It comes in a special plastic cup that the Lonely Planet describes as “a mix of melon liquer, grain alcohol, rum, vodka, and God knows what else. Suffice to say, two or more will destroy you”. It was a seriously strong drink. A few other things I want to try are the chicory coffee from Cafe du Mond, and some more local beers.


For jazz, I’d had the most excellent fortune of being in the right place at the right time (though that never is too hard for a city known for its live music culture). On Saturday, I followed my nose to Lafayette Square where a Blues fest was rocking away. Two stages were set up, and locals and tourists came prepared with their lawn chairs for an afternoon of blues music. Another very cool venue I stumbled onto was at the New Orleans Jazz National Historic Park. Free concerts happen on a regular basis, and I was lucky enough to catch the last one of the day and also the last one playing while I’m here in New Orleans and was treated to a concert by a brass jazz band. The musicians alternated between singing and playing their instruments and it was a great break from the extensive walking tour I took around the city that afternoon.

That’s about it for now. Pictures, better descriptions, and notes on the conference coming soon! Stay tuned.

Conscious Food Festival 2010

On Saturday, I had the chance to check out Conscious Food Festival  at historic Fort York in downtown Toronto. Thanks to Jonathan from for hooking me up with a free ticket to the event. Overall I found it to be a well-organized event with lots of interesting vendors and a great theme to draw people together who are interested in local, sustainable food to the event.

Pretty much all of the vendors had samples – some were for a small fee ($1-2 typically), while others were giving away samples for free. Two of my favourite samples were the cheese plate from Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Co which featured 3 different cheeses from 3 different animals (goat, sheep, and cow), and in 3 different styles and the poutine from another vendor (can’t remember off hand which one).

Other vendors and interesting things included local wineries/breweries, a gourmet tofu company, an iced kefir dessert (just like how you’d think it tastes), cooking demonstrations, a chip company from the West coast, live bluegrass music, and a taste test between “conscious” ice cream (with organic cream, real sugar) versus “modified milk ingredient” ice cream (with modified milk ingredients, artificial sweeteners).

-mmmm, conscious poutine

A Hidden Gem
My thoughts on the hidden gem of the event was visiting the community garden on site. Tucked in behind one of the stages and away from the main festival area, the garden featured a number of raised beds (at least a dozen and of various shapes and sizes) that are assigned to various community members. Tomatoes seemed to always be the popular thing to grow in almost all of the boxes and some of the surprising things were corn and winter squash being grown. Unfortunately, pretty much all of zucchinis and some of the cucumbers had powdery mildew (seems to be a common theme across the city this year) and it was interesting to see how other people set up their garden and the various stages of organization within the garden.

Some of the other things I learned from one of the gardeners there is that they have a shared herb box, and had funding from the Trillium Foundation a couple years ago to help them get the beds up and running.

-a shot of the community garden

The Simple Pleasures of Life

This morning, I had the privilege of enjoying a wonderful breakfast outside on my patio. The sun was shining, the birds were singing their morning song, and I had a delicious breakfast of eggs (over easy), a bowl of cereal, and English tea. Nothing fancy, just simple, honest, and tasty food!

To me, this was a great opportunity relax, enjoy a minute of peace and quiet, and take a step back to enjoy some of the simple pleasure of life. And I think that’s the reason why I’m writing this post – to give myself some time to reflect, relax, change up my daily schedule a bit, and just enjoy the moment (and have more of these kinds of experiences in the future too).

And in our culture of trying to cram in as many activities as possible, I think it’s something that most of us don’t take the time to do and I’m so grateful for this opportunity this morning. It could something as simple as enjoying the feeling of the sun warming your skin, feeling the cool and moist air of the early morning, going for a walk or getting some exercise, or even just listsening to some great music to name a few. And I mean really savor and enjoy the moment. Focus on the little details, like watching a ladybug stretch out its wings, listening to every note and taking in the harmonies of the music you’re listening to, and feeling truly alive.

To me, this opportunity has reminded me of how fortunate and blessed I am. Life is too short to be angry or bitter, to hold grudges or be upset about things that you can’t even change. It’s far better to let it go, do what you can to the best of your abilities and live life to the fullest with as few regrets as possible. That reminds me, I need to get going on my to do list for today!

Life is good – cheers to more happy and fulfilling experiences.

A Memorable Weekend of Eating

This weekend has turned into a mini eating fest for me and coincidentally, both events that I attended were related to relatives and their new (or expecting) baby. On Saturday, my cousin was back in town to have a baby shower for her expecting boy (in a couple of months). And tonight, it was the 1-month party for another cousin who just had a baby boy. And as I sit here digesting the remains of a delicious 10-course Chinese banquet meal and reflecting on this experience, I realize just how blessed and lucky I am to be treated not just to great food, but good company as well.

Yesterday’s event was catered by a friend Jimmy, who also plays Frisbee in the summer with me, and who also works a day job at Tati Bistro down on Harbord St. If you get a chance, I would recommend his restaurant though as a disclaimer I haven’t had the chance to eat there yet. My sister has and she said that the French food they serve there is really delicious and worth the experience. But instead of the usual restaurant fare, Saturday’s lunch was a small gathering of just over 30 people and we were treated to an exquisite meal. Here is a short description to the best of my recollection of what we were treated to

  • Fresh greens garnished with pear, cheddar
  • Potato salad with dill
  • Charred salmon with bacon bits on a bed of raddicio
  • Mushroom and cheese(?) quiche
  • Crab cakes
  • Duck confit pistachio turnover
  • Cheese platter with a triple cream cheese, blue cheese, and a cheddar
  • Tirammisu cake
  • Coffee and Tea

All I can say is “WOW!”. The food was delicious and I couldn’t have asked for it to be done any better. Being able to taste and eat and appreciate this outstanding food put on by a professional chef was such a treat. I don’t really know how else to describe it except delicious.

Tonight, I had the chance to attend the 1-month party for another cousin who just had a baby boy. And instead of having French-style food, it was a traditional 10-course Chinese banquet meal held at Dragon Boat restaurant up in Markham.

Again, this was an eating extroidannaire. In addition to the typical dishes, they went a step further and had a large buffet table full of appetizers, and they used the same table at the end of the meal with a little candy bar for the children, and about 10 different kinds of cakes, plus fresh fruit. I should note that this was a big event, I think around 250 people in total – which to them I think was pretty manageable considering that their wedding had around 800 guests!

On to the food! And this wasn’t just your typical Chinese banquet – since I think part of what Dragon Boat tries to do is mix it up with some other influences to create a sort of Chinese-fusion cuisine.

  • Jellyfish and roast pork (typical traditional style)
  • Shrimp Balls (different than the traditional crabs claw and also instead of being battered, it was coated with almonds for a different taste and texture)
  • Sweet and Sour Pork (typical, but really nicely done)
  • Shark Fin Soup (delicious!)
  • Stir Fry Ostrich with Veggies (really tender, though it looked and smelled almost like beef)
  • Chicken (really tender)
  • Lobster
  • Fried Veggies
  • Fried Rice
  • Fried Noodles
  • Desert – purple rice, taro, and tapioca soup

Overall, the food was delicious! There were some non-Chinese people sitting at the table with me and this was their first experience at a Chinese banquet so they had idea how to pace themselves for all the food that was to come. I got to them a bit too late and told them not to fill up too much on the appetizers, but it was right after they went up for seconds of the appetizers! Too bad, as I think they would have really enjoyed some of the other courses. It was also funny because the waitress was very typically Chinese – encouraging us (in Cantonese of course) to eat up and almost chiding the two non-Chinese people at our table that they weren’t doing their job and eating all the food. In the end she gave up and starting handing out doggie bags for us to pack up the leftovers.

The meal was also interesting in that there was someone at my table who I knew looked really familiar but I couldn’t remember where or how I knew him. It was only right at the end of the meal when we were getting up to leave that my mom started talking to him that we made the connection and it turned out to be a dentist who I had seen almost 10 years ago to have some specialty dental work done (that’s another story that I won’t get into now). And suddenly it all clicked – I had seem him on tv before (CP 24) and also of course had him as a dentist a long time ago. So we caught up a bit and it turns out that it really is a small world – he played hockey with my cousin which is how he knew them.

The meal was also really nice in that it gave me a chance to talk and really catch up with my sister. She’s back in town from Ottawa for a week or so and while I chat with her briefly on the phone and on g-chat pretty regularly, this was the first time in a long time where we had the chance to really talk – about our lives, our goals, our futures and it was great to have this opportunity.

And while this weekend was full of delicious and overly satisfying meals, in the end, it wasn’t really about the food. It was about sharing a delicious meal with people who I really care about being able to have a meaningful conversation instead of the usual surface conversations. And that I think that was the key takeaway. Life’s not measured by the things you do, the wealth or material possessions, but about who you share it with and the relationships that you build, not just with your family, but with the people you deeply care about. And that is what made this weekend so special and memorable.