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How to Make Kimchi

4.8 from 47 reviews

A quick and easy recipe for authentic Kimchi, full of healthy probiotics that will keep for months in the fridge. Easy, flavorful and adaptable! Vegan adaptable!

Scale

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. SALT THE CABBAGE (6-8 hours): Reserve 1-2 outer leaves of the napa cabbage and refrigerate for later use (wrap in plastic). Cut remaining cabbage and place it in a large bowl with the salt and toss. Add enough cool water to cover the cabbage and stir until salt is dissolved. Keep the cabbage submerged with a plate over the bowl and let stand at room temperature 6-8 hours (giving a stir midway through if possible) or overnight.
  2. Drain the cabbage, saving the brine. Rinse the cabbage (not excessively, just a little quick rinse), drain, squeeze out any excess water, or blot with paper towels, and place it back in the bowl,  adding the daikon radish and scallions.
  3. Make the PASTE: Place the ginger, garlic, shallot, red pepper flakes, fish sauce (or alternatives) and sugar in your food processor. Add optional rice powder (see notes!) Process until well combined, pulsing, until it becomes a thick paste.
  4. MASSAGE: Scoop the paste over the cabbage and using tongs or gloves, mix and massage the vegetables and the red pepper mixture together really well, until well coated.
  5. PACK the cabbage into a large, two-quart jar (or two, quart jars)  or a crock, leaving 1-2 inches room at the top for juices to release. Add a little of the reserved brine to just cover the vegetables, pressing them down a bit ( so they are submerged) Place the whole cabbage leaf over top, pressing down- this should help keep the kimchi submerged under the brine. You can also use a fermentation weight placed over top of the whole leaf to keep it submerged. Or a small zip lock filled with water.  Basically anything that touches air may mold – but no worries if this happens (see notes) it is not ruined. 
  6.  FERMENT ( 3-4 days) Cover loosely with a lid (allowing air to escape) and place the jar in a baking dish (or big bowl) to collect any juices that may escape. (The idea though, is to keep as much of the flavorful juice in the jar, so don’t overfill.) Leave this on the somewhere cool or on the counter for 3 days. While on the counter, you can press down on the kimchi daily with the back of a wooden spoon to keep it submerged.
  7. EVENING OF DAY 3: Check for fermentaion action or bubbles. Tap the jar and see if tiny bubbles rise to the top. Check for overflow (which also indicates fermentation).  If you see bubbles, it is ready to store in the refrigerator where it will continue to ferment and develop more flavor slowly. If no action, give it another day or two. You can also ferment longer, on the counter for more tang. If you don’t see bubbles when tapping the jar, it just may need a couple more days- especially in cooler climates. Be patient. 
  8. REFRIGERATE: After you see bubbles (usually 3-5 days) the kimchi is ready, but it won’t achieve its full flavor and complexity, until about 2 weeks (in the fridge) slowly fermenting. The longer you ferment, the more complex and sour the taste.  
  9. Maintenance: This will keep for months on end in the fridge (as long as it is submerged in the brine)  and will continue to ferment very slowly, getting more and more flavorful. Feel free to remove the cabbage leaf and just press kimchi down under the brine, after each use. ( See notes for adding more brine) 
  10. SERVE: Serve it as side dish: scoop it out using a slotted spoon, place in a small bowl, drizzle with sesame oil , toasted sesame seeds, and fresh scallions. Or Use it in Kimchi Fried Rice, Kimchi Burritos, Seoul Bowls, Kimchi Soup!

Notes

For milder kimchi, start with 2 tablespoons Korean chili flakes ( you can always stir in more). I like a spicy version with 6 tablespoons. 4 tablespoons is medium spicy.

If you like your kimchi, thick, and less watery,  you can use sweet rice powder (also called glutinous rice powder ) to thicken. This is not the same as rice flour! Cook 1 tablespoon glutenous rice powder with ½ cup water, in a small pot over medium heat, stirring constantly until it boils. Let cool, still whisking occasionally. Add to the chili paste in the food processor. Continue with recipe.

MOLD If your cabbage leaf that is holding the kimchi down, happens to mold, just remove it, wipe out the rim of the jar as best you can, and replace it with a fresh one.  Basically, if cabbage touches air here, it will mold, so after each use, press the kimchi down.

BRINE If you need or want to add more salt brine to the kimchi, to keep it submerged, mix water and salt at this ratio: 1 cup water  and 1 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt. Stir it together first, pour over the kimchi.

Nutrition

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