We really got turned on to Kimchi when we were stationed in South Korea. All of the Korean BBQ restaurants would bring out about 15 tiny bowls of different toppings to put on your pork or beef. And about half of them were different kinds of Kimchi! If you’re unfamiliar, Kimchi is Napa cabbage that is fermented with sea salt, loads of garlic, red pepper powder, and green onions. In its home country, the proper amounts of each is up to the chef, but it seems that the only rule is: the funkier the better 😉
I got the “gist” of making Kimchi from the spouse of a friend who grew up in South Korea. The basic recipe is: Cabbage, red pepper, sweet onion, garlic, green onions, and sea salt. This is what you could call the “master recipe” (just like Julia Child). Feel free to add other ingredients to make it uniquely yours. You can add dried or fermented shrimp, fish sauce, sugar, Korean radish, apples, pears…its all really up to you! We added ginger and fish sauce to ours.
- You can make it more sour tasting (think sauerkraut) the longer you leave it sitting on the counter. This lengthens the fermenting process. The less time it sits on the counter, the milder it will taste.
- You cannot substitute the Napa cabbage, red pepper powder, or the sea salt These are the ingredients that make Kimchi, well Kimchi. Anything else is an impostor.
- Be sure to really pack the mixture into your jars at the beginning. Leave about 1/4 to 1/3 of space in the top of the jar. This stuff really starts fermenting fast! If you don’t, you might get Kimchi all over you when you “burp” the jars each day. This has totally happened to me.
- One 3-4lb head of Napa Cabbage
- 1/3 cup of Sea Salt
- 3/4 cup of water
- 1 medium Sweet onion, chopped
- 5 garlic cloves
- One biggish knob of ginger (peeled)
- 2 TB of fish sauce
- 1/4 cup of water
- 1/4 cup of Red Pepper Powder
- Half a bundle (about six) of green onions, julienned (cut into strips or matchsticks)
Cut the Napa Cabbage into fourths, and remove the hard stalk from the ends. Roughly chop into bite sized pieces.
Place all of the cabbage, sea salt, and 3/4 cup of water into a large mixing bowl. Mix with your hands until the salt is dissolved. Let it sit for about two hours, stirring twice an hour. The salt will wilt the cabbage quite a bit.
Add the sweet onion, ginger, garlic, and 1/4 cup of water to a food processor. Run until the mixture is very fine.
When your cabbage has sat for two hours, remove from the bowl to a colander. Rinse off all of the salt water and let drain. Now add your blender mixture, green onions, fish sauce, and red pepper powder.
Stir to incorporate.
Pack it all into two 1/2 gallon jars, leaving space at the top for the cabbage to expand. We leave ours to sit out for three to four days. “Burp” the jars each day so the pressure does not build up. I’ve started placing a towel over the jar when I do this so red juice doesn’t fly out. You can taste it after a day. When it gets sour enough for your liking, place it into the refrigerator. This halts the fermenting process. You can keep it for a year, but ours has never lasted that long.Print