Monday, June 21, 2010

Easy Kimchi - new recipe

This is a completely inauthentic recipe and seems like it will be pretty mild kimchi once it has finished fermenting, but my tastes of the unfermented product were delicious.

Easy Kimchi

1 medium-large napa cabbage, sliced vertically into eighths, then sliced in 2 inch segments crossways
1/2 cup salt
8 cups water
2 tablespoons coarse chili flakes (Korean chili flakes if possible) [edited: please consider raising this to as much as 1/4 cup, depending on your chili flakes!]
2 tablespoons sugar
one thumb-sized piece of ginger, grated
four large cloves of garlic, minced finely
four large scallions (2/3 bunch), sliced into 1/4 inch slices
[edited to add: 1 jalapeno pepper, minced (optional)]

Mix water and salt, and soak cabbage. You will need to weight the top. For me, the ideal container was a plastic pitcher with a heavy bowl that nicely fit the pitcher's diameter. As the cabbage soaks, it will both shrink and float, and you want to keep it submerged. Soak for 2 to 12 hours, then drain well, rinse in several changes of water, and squeeze dry. (I used my salad spinner and followed up with gentle squeezing out.) Save the juice to top off your jars.

Mix all other ingredients in a separate bowl, adding a tablespoon of water or so to make a thick paste. Leave this paste for a few minutes to allow the chili flakes to swell. (You may cut down or omit the sugar; I have made kimchi several times without it and this is the first time with. It tastes dandy, but isn't necessary.) PUT ON KITCHEN GLOVES and lovingly massage the paste into your salted, drained, squeezed cabbage leaves until the coating is uniform.

Pack kimchi into sterile jars and top off with the reserved juice -- the red stuff with the seasonings first, then any leftover juice from the cabbage. You are aiming for 3/4 inch headspace. Squish down cabbage mixture so that juice fills all the cracks between and covers the top; you do not want air bubbles in your jars. Fasten jar tops loosely.

Allow to ferment at room temperature for 24-48 hours, until it smells and/or tastes tart. Then, refrigerate, and enjoy! This is a lactic acid fermentation that has awesome health benefits.

This seems to make a relatively mild kimchi. You can amp up the quantities of garlic, ginger, and chili flakes -- or add gochujang or minced fresh chilies -- to make a fiery one. I went mild for the sake of my buddy April, who wanted to try some milder kimchi.

This makes about 5 to 6 cups of kimchi. Believe it or not, the volume of the cabbage reduces by about 2/3 overall!

(It is more traditional to leave the scallions in 2 inch segments -- but I HATE them that way. The flavor is outstanding but they get a weird, tough, slimy texture I can't get down with. Slicing them finer is the answer to a Ducks-friendly kimchi.)


Anonymous said...


When I graduated from high school I posted signs around the neighbourhood offering to tutor high-school English and one of the signs was discovered by this Korean family who had just arrived in Canada and they wanted to know if I'd help them learn English, and I was all, "uh ... yes? I guess?" and it turned out to be a great thing because I taught them about how not to write run-on sentences (do as I say, not as I do, nice foreigners) and they taught me all about Korean home-cooking. I still dream about it. The food was amazing, and they made their own kimchi. They moved away, and I never thought to make my own. I am so going to try this. Thank you!!!

Ducks said...

I just took a little taste -- this is a VERY mild kimchi (although it still needs another day to get sour enough). You might want to increase the chili flakes -- to as much as 1/4 cup -- if you like the real thing. And I would even think about doubling the garlic and ginger. But cheers-- enjoy!

Ducks said...

And that's awesome! My husband and I both worked in a university writing center as tutors for about two years, and his favorite tutee was a very nice Korean guy. It was so interesting to learn about different styles of writing and citational styles around the world with our international peers.