Butternut Squash Kimchi

Thinking beyond cabbage

Photograph by Sara Remington

“Gangnam-Style” rapper PSY’s videos get millions of hits, K-Pop blares from car windows, Kogi trucks still draw lines, and “bulgogi-style” steak is now for sale at Fresh & Easy. Korean culture and cuisine have clearly gone mainstream, so the timing seems perfect for the release of Lauryn Chun’s The Kimchi Cookbook (Ten Speed Press, $20), which highlights the versatility of Korea’s omnipresent spicy fermented vegetable dish. “People think that it’s only cabbage,” says the L.A.-raised writer, who runs Mother-in-Law’s Kimchi out of New York and whose mom still operates a Korean restaurant in Garden Grove. “But you can make it with all kinds of seasonal vegetables.” That includes butternut squash, which Chun ferments for two to three days to bring out a tangy new flavor in the autumn staple.

Hobak Kimchi with Kale and Pine Nuts
(Serves 4 to 6) 

1½ pounds butternut squash,peeled, cored, quartered, andcut into ⅛-inch-thick slices
4½ cups water
2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus 2¼ teaspoons
2 cups finely chopped Lacinato kale
2 tablespoons Korean chili pepper flakes
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
½ teaspoon peeled, finely grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 teaspoon sugar

Directions: In bowl mix squash with 4 cups water and 2 tablespoons salt. Set aside for 40 minutes. Drain and let squash dry. Meanwhile, in medium colander toss kale with 2 teaspoons salt and set aside for 15 minutes. Rinse off excess salt and set colander over a bowl to allow remaining water to drain. Reserve water. In another bowl toss squash and kale with chili pepper flakes, garlic, ginger, and pine nuts until well incorporated. Place mixture into quart-size container with tight lid. Swirl water that drained off the kale and add ½ cup water, remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, and sugar. Stir to dissolve. Ladle mixture into container until one-third of the contents are covered. Allow mixture to ferment at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. Refrigerate and eat within 1 month.

Reprinted with permission from The Kimchi Cookbook: 60 Traditional and Modern Ways to Make and Eat Kimchi by Lauryn Chun, © 2012. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House Inc.