Kimchi Recipe

Last week, in preparation for Kiuk’s arrival, I made kimchi. Lots and lots of it!

When I was in Ottawa I lived with a Korean friend who had decided that, instead of buying super expensive kimchi from the supermarket, she’d rather make it herself. She taught me how and ever since then I’ve been making it on my own. This might look a little strange for those of you who have never tried this super food. There are so many different types of kimchi (fermented cabbage) and so no two taste exactly alike. It’s used as a side dish, in rice dishes, stews, dumplings, savoury fried pancakes… the list goes on. It’s a staple food so there are dozens of different Korean recipes that contain kimchi. As a result, people make a ton of it once a year. There aren’t too many ingredients but the procedure takes a while and doing it alone is hard work. Thankfully I had some friends join in!

This is the result:
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Quick (non-traditional but tastes traditional)
Kimchi Recipe:

You’ll need 3 napa cabbages, sea salt, 2 large daikon radishes, 3 bundles of green union, 3 garlic bulbs, one large piece of ginger, 2 cups of gochukaru (Korean red pepper flakes), 12 tablespoons of fish sauce and 3 tablespoons of sugar (you can use pear instead of sugar to add some sweetness).

First, wash the outside of the cabbage, picking off any old pieces. Then, cut the cabbages in halves, then in quarters. Do this vertically with the leaves facing away from you and the base toward you.

Take the quartered piece and turn it so it’s horizontal. Cut one and a half inch pieces and sprinkle them into a big empty bucket. Sprinkle a generous amount of sea salt on the layer of cut cabbage. Continue cutting the cabbage, sprinkling the pieces into the bucket, along with the sea salt layer by layer until you’ve used up all 3 cabbages. Don’t worry about the base of the cabbage… you can add that in, too!

Wait 6 hours (no more, no less).
While you’re waiting, cut the daikon radishes and green onions.
The radish should be cut diagonally into thin disks, turned over and cut again into thin strips. The green onion should be cut diagonally into thin pieces.

After 6 hours the cabbage will have absorbed the salt and your pile of cabbage will have decreased in size. Cabbage pieces should be salty. Rinse off the salt and strain.

Now make your sauce. Mash 3 bulbs of garlic with a mortar and pestle. Do the same with the large piece of ginger. Add 12 tablespoons of fish sauce and 3 tablespoons of sugar. Mix together with 2 cups of red pepper flakes. You can find these in a Korean supermarket. I find that chill is too big and paprika is too small. “Gochukaru” works just right.

Now for the fun part. After you’ve mixed the sauce together put on some plastic gloves and mix the sauce with the cabbage, radish and green onions. Make sure to get the sauce on each piece and not to leave any clumps. Leave at room temperature for one day and then refrigerate.

If you follow this recipe you’ll be eating kimchi for a while.
Here are some photos of another recipe. You can see what I mean about how to quarter/cut the cabbage. Also, here are some recipes for how you might want to use your kimchi in Korean cuisine.

Enjoy!

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9 comments

    1. Hey Elle. Me too! I ate kimchi for the first time with BBQ (in a lettuce leaf) and I didn’t like it at all. Now I can’t get enough of it! I guess it’s an acquired taste!

    1. Same here. The older the better! Sour kimchi is the best for jiggae. Actually, I wrote an article for a small Korean magazine about how my Italian family makes tomato sauce and compared it to how Korean’s make kimchi. My grandparents use tomatoes and basil from their backyard and once a year the family comes together to make the sauce (pretty similar to kimchi day from what I have learned). Last week my grandmother and I made pasta from scratch and the tomato sauce that she used was three years old! It was delicious. I don’t know if I’ve ever eaten 3 year old kimchi but I guess keeping it that long would be okay if it was preserved properly.

      1. Oh wow, that’s amazing ! I never thought pasta sauce could last so long. Did she keep it in a special container or something ? I’ve never even heard of pasta sauce lasting that long without mold growing on it. I’m sure you picked up some nice gems about Italian cooking. The art of cooking is something that needs to be preserved and the older generation definitely have their own tricks which never ceases to amaze.

      2. Yes! I totally agree. My grandmother is so smart when it comes to these things. She even keeps the seeds from some tomatoes, dries them and uses them the following year. There is a whole process to preparing tomato sauce. This sauce can be used for pizza, pasta, lasagne, etc. First, you should boil the tomatoes, de-skin them, boil again, strain them through some special machine and jar the hot tomato puree with basil leaves. The trick is to use mason jars (with a washer), close them tightly and boil the jars in a huge cauldron. When placing the jars inside, be sure to put a layer of cloth in between so they don’t hit up against each other and burst. This boiling process preserves the tomato sauce (until it is opened) and it can remain in a cold area for years. Once it’s opened it will have to be used within a few days. The good thing is that there is no unhealthy crap in the sauce like most jars that we buy at the supermarket. The bad thing is that this takes a whole day and it’s a lot of work so the newer generation would rather buy it and save time (kind of like kimchi I guess). When we made the pasta we used flour, water and egg. The amount that we made fed us all for a week and it was so cheap! Maybe 50 cents. I really admire my grandmother for all of her knowledge so I’m trying to learn as much as I can now 🙂

      3. Wow,

        I hope you can take some nice photos of the process if your grandmother is willing to share 😉

        Now I understand with the washers, they keep things airtight so I see how that would preserve the sauce for a long time.

        Sometimes, I think it’s just the space as well to make anything organic. Currently, I live on a farm so there is a lot of room to do a lot of things you couldn’t do at a regular house. It makes me want to live on a farm instead of in a suburban location but that’s off topic >.<

        Drying the tomato seeds sounds similar to how Korean women dry their chili peppers in the sun !

        Thanks for sharing, it has been a delight to learn a few tips ^_^

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