Eat a lot of kimchi, it’s good for digestion
I heard this a lot when I was living in South Korea- on the daily, in fact. The elders really seem to value foods that aid with, umm, bodily functions. I really have come to love kimchi, and there are so many different kinds! The one that most people are familiar with is nappa cabbage kimchi. This is the kind you find at your local Korean or Asian supermarket, and it comes either as a whole head of cabbage or already cut up and ready to eat out of the container.
I have made various kinds in the past like cucumber kimchi (sobaegi), radish (kkakdugi), and a fresh cabbage kimchi with oysters for bo-ssam, but never have I tried making this traditional kimchi that I eat the most often.
I paired up with a friend who used to teach in Korea for a couple of years and together we took on the laborious task of making kimchi for both our families. We used Maangchi’s recipe and tried our best to make it edible!
Makes about 8 pounds (3.6 kg) of Kimchi
**Below are the ingredients taken from the blog post linked above. I removed the items we didn’t use from the list so if are curious you can check it out.
For salting cabbage:
- 6 pounds napa cabbage (3 to 4 heads of medium napa cabbage)
- ½ cup Kosher salt
For making porridge:
- 2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons sweet rice flour (glutinous rice flour)
- 2 tablespoons white sugar
- 2 cups radish matchsticks
- 1 cup carrot matchsticks
- 7 to 8 green onions, chopped
- 1 cup chopped Korean chives
Seasonings and spices:
- ½ cup garlic cloves (24 garlic cloves)
- 2 teaspoon ginger
- 1 medium onion
- ½ cup fish sauce
- ¼ cup fermented salted shrimp (saeujeot) with the salty brine, chopped
- 2 cups hot pepper flakes (gochugaru)
- You’re going to need to cut these bad boys into halves. Take care not to chop up the core because you want the cabbage to stay intact. **We cut ours into quarters but it just made it way more work to salt the cabbage in the next step**We didn’t have deep tubs for our cabbage so we used 4 aluminum roasting pans that were laying around the house.
- Dunk the cabbage in water to get the leaves wet. You will then have to sprinkle salt between each leaf of the cabbage, taking care to apply more salt to the stems. This is going to draw out the water from our cabbages!This process takes about 2 hours and you should flip them over every 30 minutes. You’ll start to notice the leaves wilting!
- While you are waiting for the cabbage to wilt, make the sweet rice porridge!Combine cold water and sweet rice flour into a pot and cook for 10 mins on medium heat while stirring. In the last minute of cooking, add the sugar and continue stirring.
- Toss your garlic, onions, and ginger into a food processor and blend until a smooth paste.** I prefer doing it this way. I think it distributes the flavor better and there is no chance of biting into a piece of ginger or garlic that is too big**
- Add this mixture, along with chopped up salted shrimp, fish sauce, and pepper flakes to the cooled down rice porridge.
- It is time to start chopping your veggies! We julienned the carrots, match-sticked the daikon, and cut the chives and green onion into 1-inch pieces.**Next time, I would cut both the carrots and daikon radish much thinner**
- The 2 hours should be up by now, so go ahead and rinse all your cabbage. Rinse it well or your kimchi might end up very salty!
- This is the fun part! You will coat every single leaf with the kimchi paste. Don’t worry about adding a lot, it just needs to be thinly covered. It will all mix together in the container afterward.**Wear gloves unless you want your hands to smell like kimchi for days**
That’s pretty much it!
You will want to cover it and leave it out in a cool room for a few days. Once it starts to ferment, and taste a bit sour, stick it in the fridge so the fermentation process slows down. You can enjoy it anytime!
The flavor of your kimchi will depend on a lot of things. The quality of ingredients used, the brand of pepper flakes, and even the temperature of the room you’re letting it ferment in. I think to make the best kimchi takes a lot of practice and trial and error, but it is so worth it! You can have it on its own as a side, or use it to make soups and fried rice.
I ended up splitting my share of the kimchi between my family and my significant other’s, and they both gave me great feedback. I’m going to try it again but be more careful with the amount of cabbage vs. paste so that I have enough to coat everything and really get that kimchi flavor.
If you end up trying this recipe, let me know how it goes! Summer is just around the corner so let me know if you’d like me to show you have to make a refreshing cucumber kimchi!
Live large. Live Jennormously!