The cayenne pepper is a member of the Capsicum family, more commonly known as chilli peppers. It is known botanically as Capsicum annuum. The common name “cayenne” was given to this pepper because of its cultivation in a town that bears the same name in French Guiana on the northeast coast of South America.
It is not surprising that cayenne peppers, as well as other chilli peppers, can trace their 7,000-year history to Central and South America, regions whose cuisines are renowned for their hot and spicy flavours. Cayenne pepper is an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese and dietary fibre.
Now, for a recipe.
Cabbage: 1 head
Salt: 1 lb (450 gm approx.)
Cayenne pepper: 15 gm
Whole spring onions, finely chopped: 6
Whole red chilli peppers, finely chopped: 3
Fresh ginger root, finely chopped: 50gm
Dashi stock: 100 ml
Soy sauce: 30 ml
Method: Cut the base off cabbage; then slice it lengthwise into 6 segments. Dry it in the sun for half a day, cut each segment into halves crossways, then put them into an unglazed earthenware pot alternately with liberal handfuls of salt and a sprinkling of cayenne pepper, making several layers. Cover the pot with a wooden lid just small enough to fit the inside of the pot so that it rests directly on the cabbage. Weight it down with a heavy stone and leave it for a week, then rinse the cabbage thoroughly under cold, running water. Squeeze out as much moisture as possible.
Slice the cabbage into 2.5 cm (1 inch) sections or chop it more finely if preferred and put it into the rinsed-out jar, this time layering it with onions, garlic, chillies and ginger. Fill the pot with the Dashi stock mixed with the soy and MSG. Cover it with wax paper; put the lid back and refrigerate the pot. After 4 or 5 days, the Kim Chi is ready for eating. Serve it with hot white rice and a dash of soy sauce.
Note: In cold weather, Kim Chi does not require refrigeration, but when the weather is warm store it in the refrigerator for up to three weeks. Kim Chi is one of Korea's national dishes, with as many versions as there are cooks.BHOLANATH JHA
Chef de Partie