However you spell it, it’s a whole lot of wonderfulness. Kimchi is a traditional dish from Korea with a history that dates back hundreds, if not thousands, of years. The word kimchi means “pickle” in Korean, and therefore is used to describe a variety of lacto-fermented foods. The kind that is most commonly known here in the States uses Napa cabbage and hot, ground pepper as two of its main ingredients. There are loads of other ingredients you can use, of course using the produce that is in season in your local area is always the best.
With that in mind I got together with the folks at Augusta Locally Grown to do a Kimchi Cooking Demo at their Veggie Food Truck market. It went very well – lots of folks tried it and the majority of them enjoyed it (even those who had never heard of kimchi, much less previously tried it). I want to share with any of you who might read this little blog how I make my kimchi. Regular cabbage is in season here in the Central Savannah River Area (CSRA) and I’ve not been able to find locally grown Napa cabbage, so I cheat a little a use the regular cabbage.
Ingredients (Makes about 7 quarts of Kimchi):
For salting cabbage:
3 heads cabbage
1/2 cup Kosher salt
2 cups shredded radishes
1 cup shredded carrots
9 or 10 green onions, chopped
2 bell peppers, sliced
2 banana peppers, sliced
1/2 cup garlic cloves (24 garlic cloves), minced
2 teaspoon ginger, minced
1/2 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup fermented salted shrimp (saeujeot) with the salty brine
1/2 – 2 cups hot pepper flakes (gochugaru), depending on taste
1. Quarter each head of cabbage and dunk each quarter under water to get all the leaves wet. Sprinkle salt on all the leaves, pulling them apart to get salt on each leaf and let them rest for a couple of hours.
2. While the cabbage is resting, shred the carrots and radishes, mince the garlic and ginger, chop the onions, and slice the peppers.
3. Mix the spices and extra veggies into a paste.
4. When the cabbage is all rested, rinse the salt off and smear with the spice paste.
5. Roll the cabbage up into little packets and place into jars or a fermentation crock. Pack them down very tightly, use a pestle or a large spoon to crush it a little and let the juices flow. Leave an inch of space at the top of the container. Make sure the lids are put on loosely because the action of fermentation will release gases.
6. Let it sit at room temperature overnight and let the juices start to fill the jar. If by morning the kimchi isn’t covered by liquid, add a mild salt brine (1-4 tbsp of salt to a quart of water, depending on your taste) to cover the veggies.
7. Let sit at room temperature a day or two to start fermentation. You will start to see bubbles in the liquid and smell a funky smell – don’t worry, your kimchi is fermenting! Taste your kimchi every day or so until you are happy with the flavor, then put it in the fridge to stall the fermentation. It will last in the fridge for several months.
8. Enjoy your yummy kimchi and make it as often as you want!