Kimchi: Cabbage

Kimchi v 1

Fermentation is currently my jam / pickle / love. I've been gazing at kimchi recipes and videos for some time now thinking I'll just pop over to a Korean grocery store and buy the traditional cabbage, hot pepper, radish, and shrimp paste to make the most authentic Korean kimchi I can in Brooklyn. But then I never do. I went and jumped in with what I could get. The results you ask? It taste sort of like kimchi. I wouldn't want to offer it a Korean person and as real kimchi though. It is great. Every bite seems too hot to handle for about 2 solid seconds after which you realize you need to eat MORE! Its the my first batch, it will not be like my second, third, or twentieth like most fermented foods made in uncontrolled home environments. It is an adventure you will enjoy, authentic or no. 

My recipe is adapted from the Paupered Chef's who gave me the idea back in 2009! 

Brooklyn Kimchi

2 1/2 lb cabbage (nappa)
1/2 cup kosher salt
1 tblsp rice flour
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup crushed hot pepper
1/2 lb daikon
3 medium carrots
1 knob of peeled ginger
3 green onions
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup sugar

You will need a ceramic or glass large vessel that can hold 3 liters or more to ferment your cabbage in. You will need to be able to fit you fist into the jar to pack the kimchi during fermentation. That's a pretty specialized size. I used 3 individual jars to make my kimchi in, which worked fine. Before you begin pour boiling water into each jar up to and overflowing. This will clean the jar. You can feel free to clean the jars with warm soap and water too, just be careful to rinse very well. 

Remove any tough outer leaves of cabbage. Chop into bite sized pieces. Place in a colander, and toss with 1/2 cup salt. Place a heavy object on top of cabbage piece to weigh down. The salt will draw moisture out of the cabbage, and the weight will help it to drip off. Do this for at least 5 hours, stir every so often. Soak cabbage in fresh water to rinse off excess salt. 

Naked rice paste 

Meanwhile heat 1/4 cup water and rice flour in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Stir often as it heats up to create a paste, a few steps thicker than congee. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Add crushed pepper to this, and mix until even. 

Rice paste all hotted up with pepper

Grate daikon, carrots, and ginger into a large bowl. Chop green onions and garlic, add to grated vegetables along with pressed and rinsed cabbage. Mix in hot pepper and rice paste. Stir until very evenly coated. 

Mixing vegetables and paste. Messy.

Place kimchi into clean jars until 2/3 to 3/4 of the way full. Pack down with your fist. Juices should rise to the top of the cabbage. Kimchi is a little different from kraut in that you have already drained most of it's juices. The benefit is that the cabbage will stay in place pretty well, and won't require a weight on top. Cover jar with a towel and store in a cool dark place. Stir daily, packing down each time. The kimchi will be ready in anything between 4-10 days. Mine was great at about 8 days. Its nice to eat a little every day to really experience the magic of the fermentation process. My kimchi started out pretty sweet, which worried me. Later on that sweet turned into sour. 

When your kimchi is ready cover it with a lid and chill. It should be good for at least 6 months and for maybe up to a year. You will know when its really gone bad, it will smell horrendous and your body will rebel from going near it. 


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