Kimchi is addictive

Kimchi is addictive, and kimchi is healthy. That’s a good combination! So what better way to serve that healthy addiction than making it yourself.

I’ve just started out and my very first batch of kimchi was delicious, so I wanted to document how I made it, which I have done in this blog post and associated video.

Having done a bit of reading about kimchi it appears that there are many versions and variations of it. This recipe, I think, captures the essence of what kimchi is about: a fermented dish that contains chinese leaf lettuce (napa cabbage in usa), mooli (daikon in usa), carrot, garlic, onions, fish sauce and chilli flakes.

There are many different takes on this core of ingredients and I’m looking forward to experimenting, but I know I already like this recipe.

Kimchi ingredients

Kimchi ingredients

This is what you will need to make kimchi:

  • Chinese leaf lettuce (also known as napa cabbage)
  • A mooli (also known a daikon)
  • Fresh ginger
  • Garlic
  • A carrot
  • Spring onions
  • An onion
  • Fish sauce
  • Rice flour
  • Red pepper powder (or chilli)
  • Salt

You will also need various kitchen implements: a sharp knife and chopping board, a couple of large bowls, a small pan, a wooden spoon, a blender a kilner type of jar and a rolling pin and shot glass are useful.

Method

Chinese leaf lettuce also known as napa cabbage

Preparing your cabbage

  1. Weigh your cabbage, for every kilogram of cabbage use about 3 tablespoons of salt. Cut the cabbage in quarters and cut the cores out and put those aside for later. Then cut each quarter length ways again so you have eighths and then chop the eighths perpendicular to their length into bite-size pieces.
  2. Then give the cabbage a good wash, and let it soak for half an hour or so.
  3. Next drain the cabbage and add the salt. For each 1 kilogram of cabbage add 1 tablespoons of salt.
  4. Mix the salt into the cabbage by hand.
  5. Let the salty cabbage mix stand for a couple of hours. While it is standing you can prepare the other components of the recipe.

Ginger, garlic and onion

Preparing the rice porridge

  1. Add one cup (250 millilitres) of water in a pan and start to heat it.
  2. Then add one or two tablespoons of rice flour to the water. The more rice flour you add the thicker your paste will be.
  3. Stir the heating mixture for about 5 minutes.
  4. After 5 minutes add a tablespoon of brown sugar
  5. Continue stirring for another minute or two.
  6. When you have finished mixing put the pan aside to cool.

Mooli (also known as daikon) carrot and spring onions

Prepare the kimchi paste

  1. Chop some ginger, garlic, and an onion.
  2. Mix these together with some fish sauce in a blender
  3. Add your rice porridge mixture.
  4. Then add about two tablespoons of red chilli flakes. You can use chilli powder here if you can't get hold of the flakes but use less as it is stronger. Blend it!

Mooli, carrot and spring onions chopped

Returning to your salty cabbage

  1. After standing for two hours the cabbage has reduced in size and a lot of the water has come out.
  2. Now give the cabbage a good wash to get rid of all the salt, I rinse it about three times over.

Bringing it all together

  1. Now take your mooli, carrots and sping onions, and chop them up. I like to chop the mooli and the carrot into matchstick shapes.
  2. So now comes the fun bit, we've got all our different components and we are going to mix them together. Add all the components into a large bowl and mix them together with a wooden spoon until all the vegetables are coated with the kimchi paste.

Kimchi ingredients prepared and ready to mix

Preparing your kimchi for fermentation

  1. So we have a nice mixture of paste coated vegetables. Now we need to put this in a jar to ferment. Kilner jars, or similar, are really good for this.
  2. Put the mixture in a jar and pack it down tightly. A rolling pin is a really good aid for squashing it all down.
  3. Fill the jar to just blow the shoulder, or a couple of inches below the top.
  4. The four cores you put aside earlier now come in useful. Put those on top of the kimchi, these are used to hold the kimchi down. I also use a shot glass to press down on top of the cores to keep the kimchi under the juice, under the liquid. The reason for this is that the fermentation process in anaerobic, if veg is sticking out of the liquid they can go moldy.

Kimchi fermenting on a shelf

The fermentation process

  1. Put the jar of kimchi on a shelf at room temperature and leave it for a few days.
  2. Every day make sure to release the pressure in the jar so that it doesn't explode. Do this by briefly loosening the top, you should see the contents bubbling as the pressure escapes from the jar.
  3. The kimchi should be ready in about seven days at which point you can put in the fridge.

Conclusion

I overfilled the jar in this batch.

When the jar is first put on a shelf to ferment more liquid comes out of the vegetables and the volume expands.

In the video you can see the jar is too full and I initially pour out some of the liquid to allow for expansion.

The kimchi duely expanded and the jar overflowed anyhow, so I poured more of the liquid out.

However after a few days the liquid reduced again. I’m not sure why. Less gas? Evapouration? I’m not sure. But the upshot was the top of the vegetables became exposed. I topped it up with mineral water.

I think the lesson is to fill the jar to a good few inches below the top to allow plenty of room for expansion without loosing any of the liquid.

Anyway can’t wait till this batch is ready to eat…