Good morning. Did you read Eric Kim’s latest gem, about kimjang, the communal act of making and sharing kimchi? Two things stood out to me in his excellent piece. First, kimjang has been named an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO, a designation meant to acknowledge and celebrate living traditions inherited from our ancestors and passed on (something particularly relevant to people who think about food all day long).
The second is how Lauryn Chun, the founder of Mother-In-Law’s Kimchi, compares the process of preparing kimchi to making salad. They start similarly, by seasoning vegetables with salt, spices and aromatics. But it’s the fermentation that transforms crisp, raw produce into something sublimely complex.
Eric’s recipe for baek kimchi, white kimchi, is made without chiles, allowing the flavors of the cabbage and ginger to shine. It can also serve as the basis for baek kimchi jjigae, a deeply savory stew with pork shoulder. And of course, there’s fiery mak kimchi (above), spiked with gochugaru, fish sauce and scallions.
Fermentation is part of the heritage of many kitchens, including Yewande Komolafe’s. She’s back with a lovely recipe for sinasir, fermented brown rice skillet cakes from Northern Nigeria that she often made during the early months of the pandemic. Don’t miss her beautiful column: “Together, my young daughter Aṣa and I would soak our rice, grind it, then wait for its gentle sourness to develop,” she writes. “She’d scrunch up her nose at the batter’s scent, but I welcomed the smell, knowing it signaled life.”
If time isn’t on your side, Margaux Laskey has 14 easy 15-minute dinners for you. On my list: creamy white beans with herb oil (which I think I’ll serve with this quick grilled garlic and tomato bread for crunch); a tortilla-inspired potato chip omelet; and this quick turmeric-black pepper chicken, with some broccoli rabe standing in for the asparagus.
Then for dessert, how about these speedy 10-minute grilled peaches? That’s an entire meal in under 30 minutes, just the thing to get you over the hump.
Because it is Wednesday, maybe you’re interested in a no-recipe recipe. I call this one “Niçoise tuna with green beans,” sort of like a streamlined niçoise salad. Blanch some green beans (and maybe some wax beans to make it pretty). Drain and pat them dry, then toss them, hot, with a dressing made from grated garlic, white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard and olive oil. Let them cool in the dressing to absorb all the tanginess.
In another bowl, season cubed tomatoes and sliced radishes or cucumbers with salt, pepper and maybe a pinch of ground coriander. Add the beans to the tomatoes, then mix in some olives, capers and some oil-packed tuna. Drizzle with more olive oil, and garnish with torn herbs. Delicious, especially when paired with this neon pink watermelon cooler.
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Speaking of sharing intangible heritage, you should watch the trailer for “Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song,” about a pop lyric that took five years to write. I’ll leave the last word to him: “Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.” You’ll hear from Priya Krishna on Friday, and I’ll see you on Monday.