Kimchi (김치) is hands-down the most popular food in Korean cuisine, whether it’s served as a side dish (“ban chan” 반찬) to a meal or used as an essential ingredient in a dish. This sour, pickled, spicy condiment is not just an integrated part of Korean cuisine, but also of the culture. Did you know that Koreans would say “kimchi” instead of “cheese” when having their pictures taken?
Kimchi is packed with nutritional benefits as well, including being an excellent source of Vitamin A, B, and C. Because it is a fermented food, Kimchi has lactobacilli, which is a “good bacteria” that helps with digestion (similar to yogurt). High in fiber. Low in calories. Who’s ready for some healthy eating?
Total Time: 2hr
1 medium Napa cabbage (925 g or 2.5 lb)
1 small white radish (455 g or 1 lb), peeled and julienned
2 carrots, peeled and julienned
2 spring onions, julienned
1/2 white onion (115 g or 4 oz), peeled
2 cloves garlic, peeled
.5″ piece of ginger, peeled
1/4 cup glutinous rice flour
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup hot red pepper flakes
1/4 cup fish sauce
2 tbsp. sugar
1/2 cup sea salt (coarse crystals)
1) Rinse the outer leaves of the cabbage and pat dry. Divide cabbage into quarters and remove the stem. Cut each section into 2″ bite size pieces.
2) Layer cabbage pieces in a large bowl and sprinkle each layer evenly with the sea salt. Set aside for 1.5 hours with a gentle tossing at each half-hour mark.
3) Blend the garlic, ginger, and onion in a food processor until fine. Transfer to a small mixing bowl with the fish sauce and hot pepper flakes.
4) In a small pot, heat the glutinous rice flour and water over low heat. Stir constantly with either a spoon or small whisk until it forms a paste and bubbles appear at the edge (approx. 6 minutes).
5) Add rice flour paste to the small bowl with the hot pepper flake mixture. Stir to combine.
6) Wash cabbage pieces in cold water to remove the sea salt crystals. Complete this process 3 times. (You should notice that the cabbage has decreased in about 30-40% of its volume). Drain and gently pat dry with a paper towel.
7) In a large mixing bowl, mix the cabbage pieces, carrots, spring onions, white radish, and hot pepper flake mixture while wearing a pair of rubber gloves. Make sure that all ingredients are evenly coated with the hot pepper flake mixture.
8) Tightly pack and store the kimchi in glass containers. Avoid having air pockets within the packed kimchi.
9) Leave in a dry place for 2 days at room temperature, in order for it to ferment and be ready to eat. Bubbles should have formed and a slight, sour taste should have developed. Afterwards, store in the refrigerator.
Kimchi is basically pickled vegetables so it has a very long storage life. In the refrigerator, kimchi will last about 2-3 months. Of course, you can leave it longer to get a more “mature” and sour kimchi. Just remember to press the kimchi under the juices each time you remove some for eating!