A traditional Korean culinary cornerstone, kimchi uses salt and other seasonings to preserve vegetable. The principals are similar to saurkraut, relying on wild lactic acid bacteria and salt for preservation, but the product is quite a bit different. The kimchi we made was napa cabbage seasoned with a variety of vegetables and heaps of sun-dried chili flakes.
Recipe (Adapted from Maangchi)
- 7 pounds napa cabbage
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- 2 cups Korean radish, shredded
- 1/4 cup carrot, shredded
- 1/4 cup jicama, shredded
- 8 green onions, chopped
- 1 cup Asian chives, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons rice flour
- 2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup good fish sauce or Korean soup soy sauce (“Three crabs” works well)
- An unreasonable amount of garlic (about 1.5 bulbs), minced
- 1 medium yellow onion, minced
- 2 teaspoons minced ginger
- 2 cups Korean dried chili pepper flakes (do NOT substitute other types of chili flakes)
Time required: about 2 hours.
- First, chop cabbage into bite sized pieces, approximately 1 inch long and wide.
- Salt 7 pounds of cabbage with 1/2 cup kosher salt, and allow cabbage to sit in a bowl and wilt. Turn every 30 minutes, and allow it to wilt for 1 hour 15 minutes.
- While cabbage is wilting, prepare the radish, carrot, jicama, green onion, and Asian chives, then add to a bowl large enough to hold 7 pounds of chopped cabbage.
- Once all vegetables have been chopped, add 2 tablespoons of rice flour and 2 cups of water to a saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened (about 10 minutes) to make porridge
- Add brown sugar to the thickened porridge, allow to cool, then add your fish sauce (If you add the fish sauce while the porridge is still hot, your kitchen will smell like hot fish).
- Add the minced garlic, onion, and ginger to the porridge.
- Combine porridge, 2 cups of chili flakes, and all vegetables except the salted napa cabbage to make kimchi paste.
- Once the chopped cabbage has finished wilting, rinse and drain about 3 times with cold water to remove any excess salt or dirt.
- Combine your chopped cabbage with your kimchi paste!
- Once all the cabbage is coated in kimchi paste, pack it into a container and allow it to sit at room temperature for a day to kick-start fermentation.
- After 1 day, or when the kimchi starts getting bubbly and juicy, keep it in the fridge to slow the fermentation process: I find it stays good for about 2 months.
You can enjoy the kimchi immediately after making it, and older, more fermented kimchi is a wonderful ingredient in instant noodles, fried rice, soup, and apparently as a dip for banana chips. I like the flavor best when it’s fresh made or about 2 weeks old, and I’ve never had it go bad while refrigerated.