About 2 months ago, I made a a massive batch of Kimchi, which is quite possibly one of the greatest things on the face of this planet. Actually, anything fermented is quite possibly the greatest thing on earth! Where would we be without fermented foods? No beer, no bread, no kimchi, sauerkraut, sriracha, chocolate, coffee, the list goes on... It would be a sad world indeed.
Anyhoo, back to the kimchi. Amongst the many things that we planted this spring was a 50 foot row of napa cabbage, and all of this was planted for the sole purpose of making kimchi. Mid June rolled around and the Napa was just about perfect; nice tight heads that had lots of moisture and tasted great!
How do you make kimchi? Well its actually quite simple, the hardest part is sourcing the Korean ingredients, but with the magic of the internet, that’s not too hard these days. And for those of you living in big cities (suckers, kidding, sort of) you can go to your local Asian market and pick it up there...
Because there is no point in making this in small amounts, start with about 10 pounds of napa cabbage. Cut the cabbage into quarters length wise so that the root end is still holding the leaves together. Place this in a large bowl or some other container that will easily hold the cabbage and sprinkle with half a cup of kosher salt. toss the cabbage and spend a little time working the salt in between the leaves of the cabbage. Let this stand for one hour and then toss again, and then cover and let rest for a further 3 hours or even overnight. This process will start to soften the cabbage leaves.
While your cabbage is salting, make the spice mix. For this you will need:
1 cup Korean chili powder, make sure its fine and meant for Kimchi
1 cup sweet rice flour
2 cups water
1 cup fish sauce
Half cup of sugar
10 cloves of garlic
3-4 oz of fresh ginger
10 or so green onions
3 carrots, grated
1 medium size daikon radish, grated
Whisk together the sweet rice flour and the water and bring to a simmer, whisking the whole time. This will create a glue of sorts that will make the spice mix “stick’ to the cabbage. Let cool once thickened.. (side note, this is a bitch to clean)
In a food processor, blend the garlic, green onions and the ginger into a paste with the fish sauce and the sugar. Mix in the spice mix, the carrots and daikon and once cool, the sweet rice “glue.” Taste to see where its at. Remember that this will be diluted once it gets added to the cabbage. It should be pretty spicy and a little salty.
Give the salted cabbage a quick rinse to remove excess water and squeeze, yes squeeze out any moisture and let drain. In a very clean container, add the drained cabbage and mix in the spice mixture, hands work best for this but do make sure you use gloves, as the chili can burn you hands. Once mixed well, over the container and let ferment at room temperature for at least 3 days, 5 is better and if you want it really sour, let it go for a week. After this time, pack it into smaller containers and enjoy over the next month. It will continue to ferment in the fridge, so after a month it will be really strong, but great to cook with. So are all the juices left over, but that’s for another time.
Please feel free to ask any questions in the comment box.