I don't know about you guys and how you learned to cook. I learned from my mom, my dad, my brother....okay pretty much everybody in my family cooks in some fashion or another. It seems to be in the blood, because my grandmother (mom's side, never met her but I'm named for her) was famous for her cooking and rarely if ever used a recipe. I'm told that if she did follow a recipe, she substituted liberally and never measured anything. I must have inherited this habit from her, because from the time I was around 10 I just started making things up as I went. At least half of what I do in the kitchen isn't based on a recipe at all, and if I do get my hands on a recipe I start changing it immediately. Sometimes it fails miserably, but when it works it is freaking awesome.
Anyhoo, I have recently committed sacrilege on one of our family's oldest recipes. My mom got it from a friend in Texas, who called it "Texas Kimchi" (though if you know what kimchi is, it's nothing like that, and it's really a kind of salsa). I ate gallons of this growing up and loved it. When I was throwing a party for Christmas while living in Kuwait in 2009, I asked Mom for the recipe so I could make it, as it's a party favorite.
Turns out 1/3 of what I needed couldn't be bought in Kuwait, so I ended up making my own version. Now we're both so addicted to it that I make it about every 10 days. There's a massive amount of prep involved because it's all fresh veggies (except the olives), and all hand-cut because I hate my food processor.
So if you want to tackle this one, and I highly recommend you do, be prepared to invest some time, and make a HUGE batch because once you're done you won't want to make it again as quickly as your family or guests will want it. My version is below. If you want the original recipe (which is also delicious as my family's been eating it for years) then let me know.
Also, since Korean food has developed such a heavy influence here in the Philippines, I can't call it kimchi here.....as soon as I call it kimchi they get excited, then they are disappointed to learn it isn't this:
I haven't come up with a new name for my version, so if any of you have suggestions I'll take 'em!
So, here's my version of the "Texas Kimchi":
5-6 large, firm tomatoes (do not remove seeds or drain) -- or 20-25 Tiny Filipino Tomatoes
4-6 green onions with tops
1 large can ripe olives, drained and sliced
4-8 green and red fresh chilis, thinly sliced with seeds
1 full bulb of garlic
Combine in a large bowl and mix well.
3 Tablespoons olive oil (I don't measure but I doubt I use this much)
2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar or red wine vinegar (again, I don't measure, but I know I use more vinegar)
Salt, Red Pepper, White Pepper & Paprika to taste (add creole seasoning if you have it in place of paprika, and reduce the amount of red & white pepper)
Add olive oil, stir thoroughly to coat vegetables. Add seasoning, stir thoroughly again, adding vinegar as you go.
Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 6 hours, up to 24 hours before serving is ideal. Before serving, stir thoroughly again.
Serve with tortilla chips or thin hors d'oeuvres crackers (like table water crackers). Also good with those little mini-bread slices, especially if they are toasted slightly.
- Our practice is to prepare this 24 hours ahead of time, allowing the flavors to fully set. If you serve this within a few hours of making it, you'll find that it has a different flavor the next day.
- Unlike the original recipe, I don’t drain the tomatoes and remove the seeds. I leave all of that in the mix so it adds to the “meat” of the final mix. If your tomatoes are particularly juicy, you may want to drain them but still leave the seeds.
- If you don’t love garlic as much as we do, use about 5 cloves of garlic instead of a whole bulb (but I'm telling you, more garlic makes this!)
- If you need to reduce the “heat”, cut the number of chilis in half. Jalapenos may be substituted for the chilis we use, that's just all I can buy here. I really recommend fresh chili peppers though.
- Lastly, because of the amount of prep involved and how quickly this goes, when I make a batch I usually make about 4 times the yield of this recipe. Once you have a massive batch in storage it makes a great topper for morning eggs, a chicken breast, fish fillet, etc.
Because Filipino tomatoes are so tiny, I have to use 50 of them for the size of the batch I make. Yes! FIFTY!!!! (or so)
We like chilis, in case that wasn't clear.
And also garlic....YUM!
Ready for the final mix: Tomatoes, green onions, olives, minced garlic, chopped chilis, red pepper (crushed or ground), white pepper, paprika, salt, olive oil and white wine vinegar.
You'll need the largest bowl you have to stir this. Because I make such a large batch, I split my tomatoes between my two largest glass bowls and disperse the remaining mixture proportionally. When I'm finished I combine it into the largest bowl to store in the fridge. Serving tip: Clear glass bowl is a beautiful way to serve this for a party.
All mixed up, ready to combine into a single bowl.