This is going to be a series of articles given what I see as a fascination to obsession people have about kimchi. Even though I am not Korean no matter how far back I go in my family tree I consider Kimchi to be an essential in my house.
There are many styles of kimchi but the one everybody knows about is made with napa cabbage and has the Korean name of tongbaechu-kimchi, a.k.a. baechu-kimchi or pogi-kimchi. Since in Korea this style of kimchi is so ubiquitous it is just referred to as “kimchi”. The result of this is people like me who have visited Korea (I was in Pusan in 1981) hear it referred to as “kimchi” not its long name and think the only kind of kimchi is this stuff.
I am going to post two follow ups (at least) to this article covering cucumber kimchi (Oi Kimchi) and radish kimchi (Kkakdugi) both of which in addition to this recipe have been made in my kitchen.
The overall method for all three types follow a common pattern. Like many other fermented vegetable recipes you first brine your vegetables. In the case of Kimchi the second stage consists of rinsing the salt off and seasoning the vegetables before the third stage which is the fermentation stage.
It is alleged that eating fermented vegetables gives your immune system and digestive system a lot of help through the introduction of probiotics into your diet. A study done in Korea of the health benefits of eating kimchi at the very least among other things “it is abundant in dietary fiber, vitamins, lactic acid bacteria, minerals, and other active compounds.” This is due in part to the ingredients used in kimchi fas well as the fermentation (lactic fermentation) used to produce it.
Main component for kimchi is dried chili flakes called gochugaru.
- 6 lbs of Napa Cabbage
- ½ to ¾ cups of Kosher Salt
- 2 cups of water (I use spring water for this)
- 2 Tbsp glutinous rice flour
- 2 Tbsp sugar (I use brown sugar)
- 2 Cups of radishes cut into matchsticks (see notes)
- 2 Cups of carrots cut into matchsticks
- 1 Cup of minced green onions (see notes)
- ½ cup minced garlic cloves (about 20)
- 3 tsp minced ginger (see notes)
- ½ cup fish sauce (omit if making this vegetarian or vegan)
- 2 cups of Korean chili flakes
- Combine the porridge ingredients in a sauce pan of appropriate size and bring to a boil
- Cook over medium heat turn off the heat and allow to cool. It will be rather thick at this point.
- Trim off the ends of the cabbage leaving the leaves at the base attached
- Halve the cabbage by cutting through the base and pulling apart with your hands.
- Take each half and repeat the above procedure
- Apply salt to every leaf by working you fingers through every leaf until no part of the cabbage is unsalted.
- Set aside in a bowl for 2 to 3 hours.
- Rise each leaf to remove the salt and any dirt that might be in the leaves
- Combine vegetables and seasonings in a bowl
- Add the porridge after it has cooled completely.
- Mix thoroughly and set aside.
- Spread the porridge, vegetable and seasoning mixture over all the leaves.
- Cut into manageable lengths of about four to six inches
- Place into containers to ferment. I use half gallon wide mouth mason jars fitted with a fermentation lock.
- Allow to ferment for two to three days
- Put into a refrigerator for storage.
I've used both daikon radish and regular American radishes. The measurement is two cups after you make match sticks of them.
!Minced green onions
I essentially cut the green onions into quarters lengthwise and the cut them crosswise as normal ending up with much smaller pieces. I add to this one bunch of green onions that are cut into 2 inch lengths for appearance.
Please by all that is Holy use fresh not powdered ginger for this step. I've had kimchi made with powdered ginger and it was horrible. Powdered ginger in this application gives the final product a metallic chemical aftertaste that is quite off putting.
A shout out to Maangchi who’s many videos on You Tube have provided me education, sanity checks, entertainment and much joy starting with her cheery greeting of “Hello Everybody!” have warmed my heart many times. No I do not have a crush on her given I am happily married but I almost feel like she is a long lost sister given our views on food are quite similar.
Here is a link to her video on the process of making kimchi: