Kimchi: Korean spicy pickled cabbage recipe

A little over two years ago, Donald introduced me to Kimchi. It’s a Korean staple food, but I hadn’t really given it a shot.  He told me about how he had tried to make it and failed, so naturally, I accepted the challenge and set out to make my own Kimchi.

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I haven’t followed a recipe, mostly because every recipe I find is vastly different from the others I’ve seen.  As with many traditional recipes, the intricacies are family secrets, but the basics are the same.

Feel free to tweak this recipe to fit your taste. This is my first time using an apple as a sweetener (I’ve used pineapple in the past), and my first time using Napa cabbage (The official Kimchi Cabbage). I’ve used green or savoy cabbage in previous editions. I also didn’t use fish sauce or shrimp for my first couple tries, but I really like the deep umami it adds when I do use it. I’ve used Worcestershire or teriyaki sauce in the past to add umami flavor. Get creative! But stick to the general process.

This recipe is a bit different than the one below, but has an easy to follow video if you need a better idea of what’s going on here.

My Kimchi Recipe

1. Separate, chop and brine 1 head of Napa Cabbage. Put in a bowl sprinkle about 1/2 tsp of kosher salt over each layer and massage into the leaves. Once all the leaves have been salted, massage all together for a few minutes. Get it real good.  Cover the leaves with water and weigh down the cabbage to submerge it. Set aside for an hour while you get your sauce ready and prep the other ingredients.

2. Blend the paste. In a food processor, mix:

  • 2 Tbsp Red Pepper Paste
  • 2 Tbsp Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 Tbsp Chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp Fermented, dried shrimp
  • 2 Tbsp Fish Sauce
  • 15 peeled cloves Garlic
  • 1 Korean pepper
  • 3″ peeled fresh ginger, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium apple, cored and peeled
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 c. coarsely chopped Red Onion

3. Thinly slice the rest (I used a mandolin):

  • 1 medium Daikon Radish into sticks
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 bunch of green onions

4. Rinse your cabbage under running water to remove the salt.

5. With clean hands, mix the paste with the ingredients to coat thoroughly.

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6. Press the mixture into clean mason jars. Press each layer down hard after adding to eliminate air bubbles and begin releasing liquid from the vegetables.

7. Cover the Kimchi loosely with Mason jar caps (you want a little airflow here), and place in a cool, dry, dark place. Over the next few days,  leave the Kimchi at room temperature to kickstart that lactofermentation.

8. Each day, for 3 days, press the Kimchi down in the jars with a clean hand or spoon to get rid of any air pockets, and release more liquid.

9. On the morning of the fourth day, press the Kimchi down again – it should be very liquidy now – screw the jar lids on tight, and put into the fridge. Your Kimchi will keep for months.

Taste as you go

If your Kimchi is too sweet, let it ferment another day or two. If it begins to taste tart, it’s time to put it in the fridge and halt fermentation.

Do you have a favorite Kimchi Recipe?  Link to it in the comments!

Thanks for reading!

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