It’s no secret that I love fermenting foods (see: sauerkraut and hot sauce). Fermenting is a fantastic way to preserve foods, reduce waste, make the food more digestible, and add probiotics into your diet. Today lets talk about making KIMCHI which is just as easy as making kraut but seems more intimidating in some way??? It’s really tasty and costs very little to make, which is wildly at odds with the $6 tiny jars of it at the store.
Most kimchi has seafood in it, so this recipe isn’t authentic or anything but it’s pretty darn good. Taste your chili flakes first- I didn’t and ended up with a pretty mild kimchi which was good for the kids but next time I’ll be adding a spicier flake to make it really hot for me.
I went loosely off of this video which is really informative and funny. Theres a lot of seafood here though- fair warning.
nappa cabbage (about 3.5 pounds)
1/4 cup kosher salt (NOT iodized or granulated)
3 inch piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 small white onion, roughly chopped
15 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly smashed with the side of your knife
3 tablespoons liquid aminos or tamari
1 tablespoon miso paste (any type is cool)
1 cup gochujaru (Korean chili flakes)
1 cup water
1.5 tablespoon granulated sugar (optional but helps kickstart fermentation)
1.5 tablespoon sweet white rice flour (totally optional + NOT the same as regular rice flour)
1 cup thinly sliced carrots (i did matchsticks)
1 cup thinly sliced daikon radish (i did matchsticks)
1 bunch sliced green onion (scallions)
1 asian pear, sliced in thick matchsticks (optional)
- cut the cabbage lengthwise into quarters, leaving the core attached for now. Place in a large bowl. Working with one quarter at a time, spread open the leaves gently and sprinkle salt in between all the leaves. Massage each quarter until it starts to break down, soften, and release liquid. Set aside while you proceed with the recipe, coming back to massage occasionally.
- Meanwhile, get out the food processor and place in it the ginger, onion, garlic, miso, and aminos. Process until a paste forms. Add in the pepper flakes and pulse a few times to mix. Scrape into a small bowl.
- Warm up the water in a small saucepan- not too hot, just warm. Add in the sugar and sweet white rice flour (if using) and whisk to dissolve. Pour this mix into the ginger/onion/garlic/chili paste and stir to combine.
- Come back to the cabbage and massage a bit more. You should have plenty of liquid from the cabbage in the bowl at this point. Working with one quarter at a time, squeeze the liquid out over the bowl (you will need it later), place the cabbage on your cutting board, cut out the hard core (compost it), and cut into pieces (as large or small as you want, or you can keep them whole). Return the cut cabbage to the bowl as you go, and repeat for the remaining 3 cabbage quarters.
- Add your chili/garlic/ginger etc paste to the bowl with the cabbage and cabbage water. Mix thoroughly with clean hands to combine. Add in the carrots, radish, green onions, asian pear and toss again to mix all the veggies thoroughly with the paste.
- Pack the kimchi mix into a large glass jar (I used a 3 liter jar) with plenty of space because it will bubble over if you fill it up too full. I like to leave at least 3 inches. You can pack into 3 smaller jars too if you like. Pack it down nice and tight, using a clean fist to really tamp down. There should be plenty of liquid on the top. Place the lid on loosely (so that gases can escape during fermentation) and place in a dark spot like a cupboard.
- Fermentation length will depend on how warm you keep your house, how fresh your ingredients are, and how tangy/what texture you like the kimchi. My house is pretty cold, so I gave it a head start by preheating the oven and then turning it off so that it was warm in there, and I left it for about 5 days- then I tasted and it wasn’t quite there yet, so I left it another day and then it was perfect. Not a great method though because then you can’t use your oven/have to take the kimchi out and back in again etc. It may take you a lot longer or much less time. I know if you’re just dipping your toes into fermenting this seems a little scary not to know an exact time. But really, you can’t go wrong…as long as you don’t see mold or weird colors/textures you’re good. Kimchi is really forgiving too since it has all those garlic/chili/ginger it resists bad bacteria growth. Just keep checking and tasting (with a clean fork each time please). If you’re worried about the looks of something feel free to DM me a pic on instagram @mamaeatsplants
- When it tastes perfect to you, you can transfer into smaller jars for the fridge or leave as is. Refrigerate and it keeps pretty indefinitely. Older kimchi is great to use in kimchi fried rice (recipe can be found here).