I started eating kimchi at the ripe old age of 3. I thought that was pretty impressive until I met my friends' daughter who is eating at age 1! Anyway, I loved the stuff from the beginning and often wished I was Korean so that we could eat it with every meal. All I needed was kimchi and rice and I was a happy girl.
But I guess one should be careful of what they wish for. One of my childhood friends who is Korean explained to me that her grandmother was the family kimchi maker, as I'm sure is the case in many Korean households. Unfortunately, her grandma's taste buds weren't what they used to be, so the kimchi she made was waaay too spicy for the rest of the family. But because no one wanted to hurt grandma's feelings, everyone grinned and beared it. Then again, I always find myself wishing that store bought kimchi was spicier, so maybe I'd fit in perfectly with their family!
I've always wanted to try making my own kimchi but just never got around to it. Well, one day, I found myself with an abundance of napa cabbage in the fridge while my supply of kimchi was running dangerously low. It was like the stars aligned and told me "you must make your own kimchi". So I did. And you know what? It was sooo darn easy and way more tasty. I don't think I'm ever going to get the store-bought stuff again! And you can make lots of other goodies with it like Kimchi Jigae, Duk Bokki, Kimchi Fried Rice, and much more!
Regional Recipes is highlighting Korean food this month, and what's more Korean than kimchi? The host this round is Wandering Chopsticks.
Recipe from Kitchen Experiments
(this makes a lot so feel free to make smaller batches if you're not a frequent kimchi eater, although this will keep in the fridge practically forever without going bad)
- 2 heads of napa cabbage
- Lots of salt
- 1 cup of glutinous rice flour or mochi flour
- 2 cups of water
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1 cup of fish sauce
- 2/3 cup of Korean chili powder (I just used regular chili powder - and trust me, it's definitely spicy enough. You may want to start with less to begin with. Be warned, the spice seems to intensify as it ferments.)
- 1 bulb of garlic
- 1 onion
- 2 inches of ginger
- 1/2 cup of julienned carrots
- 1 bunch of garlic chives (I skipped this and used scallions instead and it turned out fine)
- 1/2 cup shredded daikon radish (I skipped this also and it was fine)
- 10 pieces of fresh oysters (optional) (I skipped this as well)
- Cut the cabbage in to quarters length-wise and rinse them.
- Sprinkle salt on every single leaf by lifting each of them and salting in between. Put more towards the base because it's thicker. Let them sit in the sink or a large bowl for 4 hours, flipping them half way through.
- After 4 hours, the cabbage should be wilted like shown below. Rinse off all the excess salt so that your kimchi won't be too salty. Squeeze out the excess water.
- To make the kimchi paste, mix the glutinous rice flour and water in a pot and bring it to a boil. Stir it constantly until it reaches the consistency of rice congee or a watery pudding. Keep a vigilant eye on it because the point it can quickly overcook. I had to make a second batch because I stepped away from it for a second and ruined it.
- Add the fish sauce and chili powder and mix well.
- In a food processor, process the ginger, garlic and onion. Add this to the rice flour, chili, fish sauce mixture.
- Stir in the julienned vegetables. If you're using oysters, add those now too.
- If you want to keep your kimchi in quarters, spread the paste on each leaf of the cabbage (using your hands it the best way). Or cut the cabbage into bite size pieces and mix it into the paste.
- Put the kimchi in a jar and keep it at room temperatures for approximately 2 days (I ended up leaving mine out for 3). Yes, this made me nervous too, but trust me, it's how it's done.
- You'll know it's done fermenting when you open the jar and hear or see bubbles and smell a bit of "sourness".
- When it's done fermenting, keep it in the fridge and eat it with rice or cook with it.