Kimchi 101

by Maryam on September 30, 2012

Unlike the green tea latte, Kimchi is considered as the core of the Korean cuisine. In addition to the many uses of Kimchi as a main ingredient in many dishes, it is also used as a side dish that complements every Korean meal.

You can find Kimchi in rice recipes, in pancakes, and it even used to make soups. Kimchi can also be found in every picture taken in Korea! One of the things I’ve learned while being there is to say KIMCHIII instead of saying cheese while taking a picture.

The variety of Kimchi recipes are numerous. And Kimchi recipes differ from a region to other; however, the main ingredients remain the same. Kimchi, also considered as a family gathering occasion where every one participate and help to convert the massive amount of cabbage into pickles. This huge amount usually lasts for months and months supplying the family with their need of kimchi daily.

Kimchi 101

I wasn’t able to take step by step pictures for this recipe. It needed a lot of hard work, and I decided to dedicated myself completely to do the recipe, and sacrificed all the potential photos that I could have taken. Luckily, my effort didn’t become a waste. When I tried my homemade Kimchi, the taste turned to be exactly as I used to when I was in Korea. Adapted from The Kimchi Chronicles.

Kimchi Ingredients

4 large napa cabbage, you can use any kind of cabbage
2 cups corse salt
1/2 cup sweet rice powder, its known as gelatinous rice as well
1/2 cup sugar
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled
1 cup garlic cloves, peeled
1/3 yellow onion
1/2 cup fish sauce
4 cups white radish, chopped into matchsticks (use food processor if you have one, it will make things much easier and quicker)
2 big bunches of scallions (green onion), chopped into 2inch slices
3 cups red pepper powder (gochugaru), can be found in the korean supermarket

Cabbage Preparation

1. Remove any unattractive outer leaves from the cabbages and cut into quarters, then cut each quarter into 2 inch pieces.
2. Wash the cabbage with cold water letting any grit sink.
3. Lift the cabbage out of the water leaving the dirt behind and drain.
4. Repeat the process for two or three times to make sure that the cabbage is completely clean from any dirt.
5. In very large bowl layer the cabbage with salt and make sure that the cabbage is evenly salted.
6. Set a side for 30 minutes, then mix the cabbage. Repeat this step three times every half an hour. Which means 1 1/2 hour in total. (you can prepare the seasoning in the meantime)
7. When the 1 1/2 hours finish, wash with fresh water and rinse two times to remove all the salt.
8. Drain thoroughly.

Seasoning Preparation

1. In deep pan pour 3 cups of water and whisk in the rice powder.
2. Bring the mixture to a simmer over low heat, while whisking continuously till the mixture thickens (this step may take around 3 minutes)
3. Add sugar and cook for another 1 minute.
4. Take the mixture off the heat and let it cool.
5. Meanwhile, using a blender/food processor combine the ginger, garlic, and onion. Puree until smooth, then add the fish sauce and combine thoroughly.

Kimchi Preparation ~ the final step

1. In a large bowl combine the cooled rice mixture, the garlic puree, the chopped radish and scallions,and the red pepper powder together. (you can wear a pair of plastic gloves and use your hands freely to mix everything together properly; its fun to do so!)
2. Add the cabbage and mix again.
3. Using a large glass gar/container pack the kimchi, while making sure that the packing is done tightly by pressing down the kimchi and removing as much air as possible outside.
4. Put a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the kimchi, and then cover with the container lid.
5. Allow the kimchi to ferment for 3 days in room temperature.
6. After this initial fermenting finishes, place the kimchi in the refrigerator. The Kimchi will continue to ferment; therefore, always make sure to press down the plastic wrap to keep out as much air as possible.

Note: I’ve also referred to youtube to understand each step and to know what to expect before starting.
Enjoy with love,
Maryam