Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Homemade Kimchi

Kimchi is a tangy, spicy, pickled condiment and is Korea's most loved food. Koreans eat kimchi at almost every meal. Like Laotians and their padek, few Koreans can last more than a few days before their cravings get the better of them.  I adore kimchi too and eat it almost everyday. It's so convenient, we serve it as a vegetable and sometimes in more "exotic" ways, like our favorite grilled cheese sandwiches, that we call Kimcheese .  A few nibbles of kimchi in the middle of the afternoon boost my energy like no cup of coffee can.  It's our salad during the winter months when fresh salad greens look tired and winter weary.  A bowl of ramen noodles with kinchee and leftover meats is our all time favorite fast food at home. 

The Kimchi isle at Hmart market in Burlingting, MA.
They offer 21 different varieties of kimchi!
There are over a hundred kinds of kimchi and I'm sure as many ways of making it.  My version is so simple and I make it so often that I feel like I can do it in my sleep. It makes about 3 quarts and will keep in the fridge almost indefinitely. Kimchi ferments and ripens as it ages so it doesn't really go bad. However ours doesn't last that long and I find myself making it every couple of months.

Homemade Kimchi 

3 - 4 lbs Chinese or Napa Cabbage
1 gallon water
1/2 cup coarse salt
1 head of garlic, peeled and finely minced
one 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/2 cup Korean chili powder
6 - 8 scallions or green onions, cut into 1-inch lengths
1 lb daikon radish, peeled and grated
2 teaspoon sugar

Slice the cabbage lengthwise in half, then slice each half lengthwise again to get four quarters, cut away the tough center core then cut each quarter crosswise into 2" pieces.

Dissolve the salt in the water in a very large bowl, then submerge cabbage in the salted water. Put a plate on top to make sure it stays under water and let stand at least 2 hours.
After two hours rinse and drain thoroughly
Mix all the other ingredients in a large bowl
photo by Emily
Add cabbage and, with your hands, mix it all up, squeezing and tossing until well combined.

Ready to be jarred
Pack the kimchi tightly into clean glass jars, leaving an inch of head room and cover tightly. Let it stand and ferment at room temperature. After one to two days, check the kimchi. If it bubbles and tastes tangy, salty, a bit sour and still crispy, it's ready to eat and now should be stored in the refrigerator.  If it's not ready, let stand at room temperature another day or two. I like to eat kimchi within the first month. After that, it's flavor is quite strong, but still perfect for soups or ramen noddles. It's a winning situation all around.


HousiGirl said...

If I'm going to make kimchi, you'll have to tell me about Korean chili powder...not familiar with it.

Jennyg82 said...

I spend way too much money on store bought kimchi. I guess I should make it myself, I didn't realize it was so easy.

Ting said...

Jenny, buying kimchi can get expensive, especially if you eat it a lot like I do :) I hope you make it. Let me know how it goes.

adpatel36 said...

Where do you get your Korean chili powder? What is it called at the Asian food store? I went to my local Asian food store and they didn't speak English. They could not help me find it AT ALL! :) I need to know what to look/ask for.

Also, I tried making a batch with siracha instead of Korean chili powder and it's not bubbling. Is it still edible?

Ting said...

I usually find Korean chili powder at Japanese/Korean grocery stores. There are no English words on the packaging except for the ingredients list, it should just have chili powder and salt. Sometimes it says chili powder for making kimchi. Good luck!