If someone had told me a few months ago to make kimchi, I would’ve said hell no. Have you seen the episode of Anthony Bourdain where those Korean ladies up in the mountains were bent over backwards making those hot balls of things?! But what do you know, here I was today making kimchi.
After I heard of the health benefits of Kimchi, or any fermented food in general (read here), I quickly googled how to make kimchi. From what I gathered, there are many ways to make kimchi. One can put all sorts of ingredients in it as long as you’ve got the basics: napa cabbage, hot pepper flakes, fish sauce or soy sauce and salt. For the simplest recipe, I used Maangchi’s ‘Emergency Kimchi’ recipe here). Note, on the site the author calls “emergency” kimchi, meaning it’s simple enough that it can be done in a situation of desperation. Well this was a kimchi desperation.
If you are feeling more bold and audacious than me though, feel free to explore Maangchi’s large inventory of kimchi recipes, this one just seemed the most do-able to me.
Ingredients used were:
2 lbs Napa cabbage (these things are heavy!)
1/3 cup Hot pepper flakes (This is NOT the same as chili pepper flakes!)
1/4 cup Fish sauce (Or soy sauce if you are vegetarian.)
2-3 stalks of Scallions (green onions)
6 cloves of Garlic
1/4 cup of Kosher Salt or 1/8 cup of regular table salt
Step 1. Wash and cut 2lbs of nappa cabbage into thin strips then drain. (*Tip: If you don’t know how much cabbage you bought, check the supermarket receipt, they weigh it at checkout.)
|It really helps to use a mesh bowl/salad bowl.|
Step 2. Mix 1 cup of water and 1/4 cup of salt into cabbage, toss evenly with hand and set aside for 10 minutes. (You may use regular table salt, but note that you should probably put less since the grain size of kosher salt is much larger than table salt…I learned that the hard way.)
|I’m using table salt here and notice I didn’t fill the whole thing.|
Step 3. Prepare kimchi paste by mixing:
-1/4 cup of julienned carrots (use a vegetable peeler to create thin strips for faster results)
-1/4 cup of diced garlic
-1/3 cup of chopped scallions
-1/3 cup hot pepper flakes
-1/4 cup of fish sauce
-1 tablespoon of sugar (or half tbsp of stevia).
Step 3.5. Check on cabbage, and rinse as much salt off cabbage as possible, repeat 2-3 times. Drain.
Step 4. Mix kimchi paste with cabbage, and mix it well. I strongly suggest using your hands!
|The smell from this will REALLY make you drool.|
Step 5. Put final mix into storage containers. Try to squish in as much as possible into each container. The tighter the space and lesser the air, the better the kimchi will ferment.
|This is all 2lbs of kimchi, they really shrink!|
Now you may eat some of the final product, which is delicious, but for true kimchi, you must leave it to sit in room temperature for a few days for it to truly ferment. After about 3 or 4 days, you should see air bubbles rising in the mixture. That is an indication that the kimchi is fermenting. I’m going to leave mine alone for about a week.
So there you have it. Even though it looks like a lot of steps, all there really is is a lot of chopping and dicing. You don’t even need to turn on the stove. Treat the mixing like an arm workout. It’s so delicious and worth it.