Making Kimchi


Ahhh…cabbage.  I really like cabbage, but I often run out of recipe ideas.  There’s just so much cabbage in, well, a cabbage.

I recently got a kimchi lesson from my roommate and wanted to walk you through the steps. A big thanks to Janette for the lesson and the recipe!

Kimchi Ingredients

Here’s your ingredient list:
For each head of cabbage (nappa or Chinese) you’ll need:

1.5 cup (approx.) coarse salt
1 cup Korean chili pepper powder aka gochugaru (not flakes, not chili powder – must get from Korean/Asian grocery)
1 cup of white daikon radish (long and white, not small round and pink), peeled and shredded or cubed
5 green onions, washed and sliced into about 1″ pieces, and a couple of times down the length
1/4 Korean/Asian pear (can substitute an apple if not available), peeled and cubed
1 medium onion, diced
1/4 cup fish sauce, i.e. oishi sauce (optional)
3 Tbsp (approx.) of garlic, minced
1 Tbsp (approx.) of ginger, minced
1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
1 heaping Tbsp glutinous (glue-like, there’s no gluten) rice powder/flour aka chapssal garu – i.e. Mochiko Brand or Ah-Shi Sweet Rice Flour

While a lot of the ingredients sound exotic, you’ll be amazed at how many can be grown locally. I’ve been able to find Chinese cabbage and daikon at the Halifax farmers’ market. And green onion, white onion, garlic, and apples are all readily available locally.

Note: There’s AT LEAST a 3 hour waiting period you must allow for the cabbage to sit.

Wash and remove any bad parts from the nappa (or Chinese) cabbage. Cut it into halves, then into quarters, remove the heart, and cut into approximately 1.5″ to 2″ pieces (bite-sized, so they fit into a jar). In a bowl, large enough for the cabbage to be submerged in water, put a layer of cabbage then sprinkle a handful of cooking salt over it. In the same way, put another layer of cabbage and sprinkle with salt. Repeat until all the cabbage is salted.

In another bowl dissolve approximately 1/2 cup of salt in approximately 1 litre of water. Pour the salt solution over the salted cabbage and allow to sit for AT LEAST 3 hours. Don’t worry about making your kimchi too salty – here we are just using the salt to take the water out of the cabbage and let the salt solution be absorbed – the cabbage KNOWS how much it can take.

This needs time to cool so make this while waiting for the cabbage to wilt. Combine 1 heaping tablespoon of rice powder/flour with 1/2 cup water in a pot, stirring vigorously over a low heat until the mixture has turned white, has a very thick consistancy and starts to bubble. BE CAREFUL: hot rice liquid likes to burp at you. Set aside to cool down.

In a blender (or use a hand mixer) mix together the garlic, ginger, Korean/Asian pear (or apple), diced onion and daikon radish into a pulpy liquid. Once the rice powder glue is completely cool, stir in the Korean chili pepper powder, sugar, fish sauce and green onion, and combine well.

Rinsing the cabbage

Rinse the cabbage in cold water 3 times to get rid of excess salt. At this point your cabbage should have drastically reduced in size and be limp but still crispy (think pickle crispy). Wring the cabbage, squeezing out as much water as possible. Let sit for approximately 1 hour in a strainer to get rid of excess water.

Mixing the Kimchi

*Janette’s note:  I find it easiest to mix and jar with my hands so I wear gloves or put a baggie on my hand. Kimchi stains when it sits on anything too long so if you spill clean up right away.

Back into the large bowl, mix the cabbage well with the kimchi sauce. (At this point in the lesson, Janette demonstrated the kimchi squat, which she wouldn’t allow me to take photos of. Basically, put your bowl on the kitchen floor, squat down there and mix vigorously.)

Put the kimchi into glass jars or containers, packing it down and use left over sauce to top up. Screw the lids on but don’t tighten yet. Leave it outside (room temperature) for about 3 days (less if it’s hot weather) in a shady area. Tighten lids before putting it into the refrigerator. It will take several days to a week until it is properly fermented. Enjoy! This kimchi will be good for up to 3 months in the fridge.

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