How to Make Cabbage Kimchi
Makes about 1 litre (1 quart)
What You Need
- 1 (1 kg) head napa cabbage
- 1/4 cup sea salt (see Recipe Notes)
- Water (see Recipe Notes)
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped or grated garlic (about 5-6 cloves)
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2-3 tablespoons seafood flavour or water (optional, see Recipe Notes)
- 1-5 tablespoons Korean red pepper flakes
- 200 g daikon (radish), peeled and cut into matchsticks
- 4 spring onions, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- Cutting board and knife
- Large bowl
- Plate and something to weigh the kimchi down, like a jar or can of beans
- Small bowl
- Clean 1-quart jar with canning lid or plastic lid
- Bowl or plate to place under jar during fermentation
- Cut the cabbage. Cut the cabbage lengthwise into quarters and remove the cores. Cut each quarter crosswise into 2-inch-wide strips.
- Salt the cabbage. Place the cabbage and salt in a large bowl. Using your hands, massage the salt into the cabbage until it starts to soften a bit, then add water to cover the cabbage. Put a plate on top and weigh it down with something heavy, like a jar or can of beans. Let stand for 1-2 hours.
- Rinse and drain the cabbage. Rinse the cabbage under cold water 3 times and drain in a colander for 15-20 minutes. Rinse and dry the bowl you used for salting, and set it aside to use in step 5.
- Make the paste.Meanwhile, combine the garlic, ginger, sugar, and seafood flavour (or 3 tablespoons water) in a small bowl and mix to form a smooth paste. Mix in the red pepper flakes, using 1 tablespoon for mild and up to 5 tablespoons for spicy (I like about 3 1/2 tablespoons).
- Combine the vegetables and paste. Gently squeeze any remaining water from the cabbage and return it to the bowl along with the daikon, spring onions, and seasoning paste.
- Mix thoroughly. Using your hands, gently work the paste into the vegetables until they are thoroughly coated.
- Pack the kimchi into the jar. Pack the kimchi into the jar, pressing down on it until the brine rises to cover the vegetables. Leave at least 1-inch of headspace. Seal the jar with the lid. If you have a lid with an air lock, use that to allow the gases to escape without any build up.
- Let it ferment. Let the jar stand at room temperature for 1-5 days. You may see bubbles inside the jar and brine may seep out of the lid; place a bowl or plate under the jar to help catch any overflow.
- Check it daily and refrigerate when ready. Check the kimchi once a day, pressing down on the vegetables with a clean finger or spoon to keep them submerged under the brine. (This also releases gases produced during fermentation.) Taste a little at this point, too! When the kimchi tastes ripe enough for your liking, transfer the jar to the refrigerator. You may eat it right away, but it's best after another week or two.
Salt: Use salt that is free of iodine and/or anti-caking agents, which can inhibit fermentation.
Water: Chlorinated water can inhibit fermentation, so use spring, distilled, or filtered water if you can.
Seafood flavour and vegetarian alternatives: Seafood gives kimchi an umami flavour. Different regions and families may use fish sauce, salted shrimp paste, oysters, and other seafood. Use about 2 tablespoons of fish sauce, salted shrimp paste, or a combination of the two. For vegetarian kimchi, you can use about ½ tsp kelp, mixed with 3 tablespoons water, or simply 3 tablespoons of water.
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