Following in the vein of preserving foods, pickling, fermenting, etc – we decided to try kimchi, a korean fermented cabbage dish. Actually, there are hundreds of varieties of kimchi, anything from cabbage to radish to garlic stems to cucumber. Napa cabbage kimchi is the most common, and what you would refer to if just saying ‘kimchi’ without specifying which type. We followed the recipe for Traditional Napa Cabbage Kimchi from koreanbapsang.com, except we didn’t put radish in with the cabbage, and we left out the fresh shrimp. It turned out delicious and very flavorful, but not extremely spicy, so if you like it spicy, I would up the amount of chili flakes.
- 1 large napa cabbage (5-6 lbs)
- About 1 cup coarse sea salt
- 1 tablespoon glutinous rice powder (찹쌀가루)
- 1/2 cup red chili flakes (고추가루)
- 1/4 cup fermented shrimp (새우젓), finely minced
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- 3 tablespoons finely minced garlic
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- 1/2 cup water
- Cut a slit about 2-3 inches deep in the root end of the cabbage, and then pry the cabbage apart into halves. This allows the leaves to be pulled apart and to stay whole, instead of being shredded by the knife. Repeat with each half, so that you have 4 whole quarters of the cabbage.
- If the cabbage looks dirty, rinse lightly in water to remove the loose dirt.
- In a large bowl, dissolve 1/2 cup of salt in 5 cups of water. Thoroughly douse each cabbage quarter in the salted water, then shake off the excess, and put into a large pot or bowl (we use our stock pot).
- Take each quarter cabbage, and sprinkle salt mostly on the thick white portions of each cabbage leaf, then replace into the large pot/bowl. Use about 1/2 cup of salt total for the whole cabbage.
- Pour the salted water from step 3 over the cabbage quarters, and let them sit in the salted water for around 6 hours, turning them over every 2 hours so that each part has time to soak. The thick white parts of the cabbage should be soft and bend easily when it is ready to take out.
- After the cabbage has been soaking for around 4 hours, mix the garlic, ginger, fish sauce, fermented shrimp, chili flakes and 1/2 cup water together in a large bowl.
- In a small saucepan, mix together the 1 tablespoon glutinous rice powder with 1/2 cup water, and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens into a paste. Take off the heat and allow to cool to room temperature, then mix with the other seasonings in the large bowl.
- Once the cabbage is done soaking, take the cabbage quarters out of the water and rinse thoroughly, making sure all the salt is washed away. Squeeze the excess water out after rinsing.
- Place one quarter of the cabbage in the bowl with the seasoning mix, and, while wearing kitchen gloves to avoid chili burns, coat each leaf with a little bit of the mixture, using about 1/4 of it for each quarter of the cabbage. Repeat with each quarter of the cabbage.
- Fold the top soft leaf parts of each cabbage quarter over the thick stem parts, and place into a glass jar or air-tight container. Press each down firmly to remove air pockets and make sure they are tightly packed.
- Rinse the seasoning mix bowl with 1/2 cup of water and pour over the cabbage. Seal the top and set out at room temperature.
- Leave kimchi out at room temperature for about 2 days, then place in the refrigerator. The kimchi is edible at this point, but will taste best after a few days to a week in the refrigerator.