Buchu Kimchi (Garlic Chives Kimchi)

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This kimchi made with garlic chives (buchu – 부추) is one of the easiest kimchi variety to make! Buchu kimchi is a common summer kimchi that is especially popular in Korea’s southern provinces (Jeolla-do and Gyungsang-do).

Garlic chives are distinguished from regular chives by their flat leaves and distinct flavor that’s like a mild onion with a delicate garlic flavor. Here in the U.S., Chinese garlic chives are more common, but Korean garlic chives also appear in Korean markets in the spring and summer. Korean garlic chives are thinner and more tender so they are better for making kimchi.

The best Korean chives I get around me are from my sister-in-law’s back-yard garden. I think I’m going to get a clump or two from her and start growing them myself. If you can’t find Korean chives, by all means, use the Chinese variety. Look for ones with thin and narrow blades.

Buchu kimchi is typically seasoned with myulchiaekjeot (fish sauce made with anchovies). You can also add a little bit of saewoojeot (salted shrimp), as I did in this recipe. No pre-salting is necessary. If you like, add a little bit of minced garlic and/or ginger, but I prefer to omit it to let the natural flavor of the garlic chives come through better.

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about 1 pound (450 grams) buchu (garlic chives)

4 tablespoons Korean red chili pepper flakes (gochugaru)
3 tablespoons fish sauce (myulchiaekjeot)
1 tablespoon salted shrimp (saewujeot), finely chopped (or use more fish sauce)
1 teaspoon sugar (or more to taste)
1 tablespoon glutinous rice powder (aka sweet rice powder)
1 teaspoon sesame seeds

Whisk together the glutinous powder and 1/2 cup of water. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until it thickens to a thin paste. Let it cool. Yields about 3 – 4 tablespoons.

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Wash the chives thoroughly a couple of times, gently shaking them in the water to get out any dirt between the blades. Drain. Cut the chives into 2 or 3 sections crosswise.

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Mix all the seasoning ingredients along with 1/2 cup of water in a bowl. Add to the garlic chives.

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Gently rub the seasoning mixture all over the garlic chives to evenly coat them. Let stand at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours until the chives wilt and reduce in volume. Transfer to an airtight container or a jar and refrigerate. Buchu kimchi can be eaten right away, but the flavor develops as it ferments. It will keep well for 2 to 3 weeks in the fridge.