easy kimchi

*Note: Since first posting this recipe in 2009, I’ve found an even more authentic, reliable, and uniquely saucy kimchi recipe over at Maangchi, a Korean home cook who’s become a superstar in the food sphere. She uses a rice flour/spice “porridge” of sorts that coats the vegetables beautifully, and her kimchi lasts for months in the fridge. I’ve made it numerous times and highly recommend her recipe, which follows below in place of what was originally here.

If only there was something yummy and exotic that made itself. Something you could just quickly cut up, stir, and plop in a container, only to turn out 5 days later in a delicious new guise.

Wait! There is! It’s called kimchi, and for its tart and tangy goodness we can thank the Koreans.

kimchi

kimchi

I’m seeing Korean food turn up everywhere. On the pages of Bon Appetit, on food blogs, and even in the New York Times. It’s even gone fusion, with a Twittering taco truck that brings mobile eats to its loyal followers. Kimchi is so important that the Korea Aerospace Research Institute even developed space kimch. Why? To accompany the first Korean astronaut to the Russian space ship, Soyuz, of course.

I can’t remember when I first tasted kimchi, but it wasn’t too long ago. I then started buying some locally-made stuff, available at the Central New York Regional Farmer’s Market, in all sorts of shades and styles. Being the fermentation freak that I am, my next thought was  “OK, my turn.”  Anyone who’s been to my apartment has seen the various fermenting things lying around my house. And before you run away scared, know that each one of them is darn delicious.

daikon

daikon

Food that is fast, easy, healthy and given to leftovers is manna for me right now. Finishing up my masters degree leaves little time for poring over new recipes (sad face #1), therapeutic vegetable chopping (sad face #2), and Zen-like-stove-top stirring (sad face #3). To this sorry state came my new friend, kimchi.

The fabulous ferment did not only arrive to a dire, time-crunched situation, but to a household with a brand-new mandolin. Picked up for a steal of a deal on Amazon with Christmas money, this Japanese slider-knife is a miracle in a drawer. With this little beauty and a far superior recipe, my second batch of kimchi turned out much better than my clunky, over-garlicked first batch.

kimchi carrots

What, you may ask, is kimchi? Well, a Korean proverb reads, “if you have rice and kimchi, you have a meal.” To me, it’s crunchy ribbons of daikon and carrot folding over each other between layers of ruffled Napa cabbage. It’s chilis melding with garlic and ginger, and crisp veggies fermented to perfection. Served at room temperate over fried rice or a plate of egg rolls, or just eaten out of a jar, kimchi is a great snack full of healthy probiotics.

korean hot pepper flakes

korean hot pepper flakes kimchi

Best of all, the do-it-yourself kind pretty much does it itself. Just make sure you don’t spill it all over your gym bag.

kimchi and rice

Easy Kimchi

makes a lot

Kimchi base:

-10 lb Chinese (or Nappa) cabbage (half the whole recipe if you want less kimchi on hand)
-1 cup Kosher salt

Kimchi “porridge”

-3 cups of water
-½ cup sweet rice flour* (chapssal garu)
-¼ cup sugar
-1 cup fish sauce
-2.5 cups hot pepper flakes* (depending on your taste)
-1 cup crushed garlic
-1-2 TBSP minced ginger
-1 cup minced white onion
-1/4 cup jarred salted shrimp*

Kimchi add-ins

-10 diagonally sliced green onions
-2 cups amount of chopped leek
-2 cups julienned Korean radish (daikon)
-¼ cup julienned carrot

*all available at an Asian market

Preparation

  1. Prepare the cabbage: Trim the outer leaves of 10 pounds of Napa cabbage (about 3 large heads…if you want less kimchi, cut the recipe in half. I do the full recipe, and it lasts in the fridge for months).
  2. Cut the cabbage lengthwise into quarters and remove the cores. Chop it up into large bite-sized pieces and throw into a sink full of cold water as you chop. Let it soak for 10 minutes.
  3. Strain the cabbage, and sprinkle the whole batch with ½ cup of Kosher salt. Every 30 minutes, turn the cabbage over to salt evenly (total salting time will be 1½ hours, and a total of 1 cup of salt will be used for 10 pounds of Napa cabbage)
  4. While the cabbage is salting, make the porridge: Put the water and sweet rice flour in a pot, whisk it well and bring to a boil. Keep stirring until the porridge begins to bubble (about 5 minutes). Add the sugar, stir and cook for a few more minutes until it’s translucent. Cool.
  5. 1½ hours after the cabbage has salted, rinse it in cold water three times to clean it thoroughly.
  6. Make kimchi paste: Place the cold porridge into the bowl of a food processor. Add the fish sauce, hot pepper flakes, garlic, ginger, minced onion, and jarred salted shrimp one by one, and process until smooth.
  7. Stir in (do not process) the green onions, chopped leek, julienned Korean radish (daikon), and carrot. Mix all ingredients well.
  8. Mix the cabbage with the kimchi paste: Put the kimchi paste in a large basin, add all the cabbage, and mix by hand. If your basin is not large enough to mix all the ingredients at once, do it bit by bit.
  9. Put the kimchi into an air-tight sealed plastic container or glass jar. You can eat it fresh right after making or wait until it’s fermented. We used to let some of the kimchi ferment on the counter, but now it takes us so long to eat it that we just let it slowly ferment in the fridge. When the kimchi becomes very sour, you can make the delicious kimchi jjigaewhere sour kimchi is better.
  10. Eat kimchi in lettuce wraps with Korean marinated short ribs, or in a simple dinner with just rice and a poached egg. Or, try the Mexican-Korean fusion kimchi quesadillas, with mozarella cheese. Some of our favorites!

Method courtesy of Maangchi.com

4 thoughts on “easy kimchi

  1. Amanda
    April 1, 2009 at 8:48 pm

    This sounds so delightful! I will most certainly be trying this recipe. One quick question: is the kimchi ready to eat after the 5 day mark when it becomes sour, or do you keep it jars for a while first?

    1. January 1, 2013 at 1:21 pm

      Oh, kimchi is good! It’s kind of an acuqried taste, as you might imagine, it being fermented cabbage and all. :) The process was quite simple and has room for personalization. It’s just chopped up cabbage and a few shredded carrots and green onions sitting in ginger, garlic, fish sauce, red pepper, and a little sugar. I can’t wait to see how it came out!

  2. Jen
    April 1, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    Hi Amanda. You could eat it after the 5 day mark, but I usually let it sit in the fridge for an additional day or two. It’s quite good chilled and it gets a little tangier. Thanks for your comment!

  3. April 7, 2009 at 12:46 am

    try pureeing it with an immersion blender or regular blender and using the resulting condiment in place of ketchup.