My other half used to live and teach in South Korea – one of the reasons I’ve been eating this cuisine more than I used to. I’ve always loved Asian food anyway but just recently dishes like bibimbap, kimbap and kimchi are right at the top of my list!
We decided to try and make proper kimchi (김치), having tried some suspect examples over the last few months; notably a ‘vegan’ kimchi at the Sneinton vegetarian market which was essentially vinegar and white cabbage in a jar. True tradition dictates that the kimchi be made by an Ajuma and buried in the ground in a clay pot so it was never going to be totally authentic but we grabbed the bits we needed from a Korean supermarket in Beeston and got started.
We found a recipe online from blogger Korean Bapsang and used it as a base for ours. You can see the original here but we cut it in half and converted everything to metric for ease here in the UK. I’ve revisited our steps so here’s the recipe Gingey style.
- 1/2 tbsp sugar
- 65g gochugaru – 고추가루 (Korean red chilli pepper flakes)
- 20g saeujeot – 새우젓 (salted shrimp) finely chopped
- 15g finely chopped garlic
- 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
- 1 daikon radish – 무 (chopped weight approx 650g)
- 2 medium-sized napa cabbages – 양배추(chopped weight approx 1.3kg)
- 2 tbsp fish sauce (try and use Korean if you can)
- 3 spring onions, roughly chopped
- 700ml water (for salting the cabbage)
- 1 tbsp coarse rock salt (for salting the cabbage)
FYI, we didn’t use the rice flour on the picture above. This is for the full kimchi recipe rather than this quick version which doesn’t need it. You’ll also need a couple of big bowls, catering rubber gloves and a big airtight box or kilner jars for the kimchi to live in – to the volume of roughly 3-4 litres.
- Remove the outer leaves and then cut the cabbage into four, removing the tough core. Then cut down into 1-1.5 inch pieces.
- Dissolve the coarse sea salt into the water and pour over the cut cabbage (in large bowls). Leave the cabbage to soak for 3 hours. Some blogs say up to 10, Korean Bapsang said 2 so let’s go for 3 to be sure. Stir occasionally.
- Cut the daikon radish down into 1-1.5 inch square shaped pieces. Sprinkle with salt and leave in a bowl for up to 30 minutes. Don’t rinse it for the next stage.
- Mix the chilli pepper flakes with the fish sauce, ginger, garlic, sugar and shrimp Add 125g water and mix well.
- Rinse the salted cabbage really well and drain any excess water.
- In another large bowl, add the cabbage to the spring onions, daikon radish and the chilli mixture. Wearing gloves, mix it very thoroughly until everything is covered with the seasoning.
- Add the kimchi mix to your airtight jar or container, swirl the 50ml water around the bowl to catch any leftover flavour and pour in.
- That’s it – add the lid and turn it a couple of times to distribute the liquid throughout.
At this point, we had two kimchi jars – we chose to ferment one at room temperature and one in the fridge after two days we put the room temperature jar into the fridge. We then left the kimchi for 3 weeks before it was ready, doing taste tests along the way. To begin with, it was very salty but as the days passed, the salt has mellowed.
Unfortunately, the Kilner jar didn’t make it – there was something wrong and the taste was funny. To be safe we binned it. Perhaps the jar wasn’t sterile enough or there was air getting in. Anyway, the big plastic container turned out perfect – spicy and piquant. Dave, of course, keeps comparing it to real Korean kimchi but for me, I’m pretty chuffed with the results.
You can eat kimchi as a side dish or cook it up into numerous Korean dishes, including one I’m loving right now kimchi jjigae and these Prawn & Kimchi Mandu.
The finished thing: