Have you ever wondered how to make kimchi? It’s just as easy as making Sauerkraut or a jar of fermented pickles. I make a big batch once or twice a year and we enjoy it on top of many Asian dishes. Kimchi has a pungent, often spicy flavor that compliments a lot of Korean dishes involving pork belly.
Kimchi recipes vary greatly from family to family but most people associate kimchi with napa cabbage. Napa is a long, oval-shaped cabbage that is light green in color and has thick white ribs. You can find it in most supermarkets year round. Like making sauerkraut, the napa cabbage is cut into pieces and then salted to pull out the water in the cabbage. This is what starts the fermentation process.
Several other vegetables end up in the mix. A few carrots, some Dikon, a couple scallions, all of which you should be able to find in a supermarket. Then comes the spice mix. Here is where things will differ and you might have difficulty finding the ingredients locally unless you have a large Asian population in your area.
The spice mix starts with garlic and ginger, pretty common, but then comes salted shrimp sauce and a type of red pepper powder. It’s these two ingredients that give Kimchi its distinct flavor. They can also be adjusted to suit your tastes. I prefer a little less salted shrimp in my Kimchi, some people like a little more. The same goes with the red pepper powder. Adding in more or less will determine how spicy you like it.
Everything gets tossed together in a large bowl. You might want to grab a pair of latex or nitrile gloves when you go to mix it. The pepper powder is not something you want to get into your eyes and depending on how much you, it could irritate the skin on your hands. After mixing, it’s packed tightly into a glass jar or crock and left on the counter to ferment for a couple of days.
Once it’s done fermenting, I transfer the kimchi into plastic storage containers and keep it in the fridge. I often give a jar away to my brother-in-law too. They love it on everything! And now you know how to make Kimchi.
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How to make kimchi at home is simpler than you think. Fermented, pungent and spicy, Kimchi is a Korean condiment that tastes wonderful on so many things!
1 large head napa cabbage (about 3lbs)
1/2 c coarse sea salt
1 large dikon radish, cut into matchstick pieces
3 carrots, peeled and cut into matchstick pieces
1 bunch scallions/green onions, white and light green parts cut into 2 inch pieces
6 cloves garlic
3-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled
1/2 cup Korean red pepper powder
3 tbs salted shrimp (can also use fish sauce)
- Remove a few of the outer leaves from the napa cabbage and set aside.
- Cut the cabbage in half and use the salt to sprinkle liberally in between each of the leaves. Set aside in a colander for 20 minutes.
- Rinse the cabbage and squeeze out the excess water.
- Cut the cabbage into 2-inch pieces and place in a large bowl with the dikon, carrots, and scallions.
- In a small food processor, combine the Korean red pepper powder, garlic, ginger, and salted shrimp (or fish sauce).
- Wearing a pair of medical style gloves, rub the spice paste into the cabbage mixture.
- Pack tightly into a large glass jar or fermentation crock.
- Cover with the cabbage leaves that were set aside and press down hard.
- Place the lid on the jar but do not tighten it. You want any gas buildup to escape.
- Leave on your counter for two or three days, pressing down each day. As the cabbage ferments, more and more liquid will be released and this is what ‘protects’ the cabbage.
- Once it reaches your desired taste, transfer to airtight containers and store in the fridge. It will slow down the fermentation process but the flavor will continue to develop as it sits.
You can find the Korean red pepper powder by clicking here.