Kimchi is a pickle obtained through fermentation. A pickle I LOVE. A pickle I CRAVE so often. Kimchi can be made with napa cabbage, daikon radish or cucumber. So far, we’ve made the first two, both equally amazing.
Fermented foods are so good for us and for our guts. I already expressed my long lasting affair and deep feelings for probiotic bacteria, you can read about it here.
Traditionally, some sort of seafood is added to the kimchi to help kick start the fermentation process. But guess what? Magic will happen even without seafood. Foods naturally ferment and under the right conditions they need very little help from us. Actually, most times that help consists of washing veg, placing them in adequate containers and doing the cleaning up once they worked their magic.
Although yum kimchi is readily available in stores these days, it is so much better and more rewarding to make my own. It is really easy, way cheaper and once I got the hang of it, I was able to play with the flavours and the recipe as my tummy desired. Plus, it is free of all the nasties one sees these days in store bough products, like dyes, flavour enhancers, preservatives and what not. I use whole veg, nothing more and I get wholesome deliciousness in return.
We’ve started to make kimchi few years back, using the Momofuku recipe and have continued to use the same one to this day, experimenting with various substitutions and new ingredients at times. I like this basic recipe because it uses no sugar (just a couple of sweet apples) and no seafood. And if you’re looking for an inspiring book, I do recommend Momofuku’s, which stands proudly on my bookshelf.
- 1 Napa cabbage
- 2 TBSP coarse sea salt
- 2 medium carrots, julienned
- 4 green onions, cut lengthwise in 3 cm pieces
- 2 small sweet apples (or 1 medium big one, cored and finely grated (almost to a puree consistency)
- 6 cloves garlic, finely grated
- 8 cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
- 5 TBSP Korean chili powder called kochukaru (if you can’t source that, 2 TBSP of regular chili flakes will work too, though final colour and consistency of paste will be different; taste still awesome)
- 4 TBSP soy sauce or tamari
- 4 TBSP water
- Wash and cut the cabbage in half, lengthways, then cut each half crossways in 2-3 cm pieces.
- Place the thicker bits at the bottom of the container and toss with 1 TBSP of the salt, massage it for few seconds. Add the remaining cabbage pieces and the rest of the salt and massage it all together for few seconds.
- Cover the place it in the fridge overnight.
- Next day, drain the cabbage, gently squeezing excess water and return it to the container. Add the carrots and the green onions.
- To make the paste, add all ingredients to a bowl and mix together until combined. If too thick, add a bit of water, but not too much. You want the paste to be creamy like a salad dressing.
- Add the paste to the cabbage mix and toss to combine. You can massage it for a minute to make sure the flavours will be evenly distributed and that the paste will get into all the right places. I find best to use food prep gloves for this step as my hands get a bit sensitive from all the garlic, ginger and chilies.
- Seal the top of the container with a layer of cling wrap and then close it with a lid. The extra layer of cling wrap should further ensure that your fridge will not get too stinky. Place the container in the fridge.
- Kimchi can be ready in as little as 24 hours, but the flavour will be better in about a week and will be at its absolute best in about 2 weeks. After that, flavour will continue to be amazing for another 2 weeks, after which it will get quite strong.