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A Salute to Cabbage Part 2: Traditionally Fermented Korean Style Kimchi

12:21 PM

I've been meaning to try out this project for a while now, but every time I go to the store there's 1 or more ingredients that I can't find in order to make a *truly* traditional Korean Kimchi.  So I thought, why not do it anyway?  With ingredients that are readily available to most anyone in the United States?

I'm glad I tried this out because it's a really fun and dynamic ferment with a lot of bubble action to keep everyone entertained!

Traditionally Fermented Korean-Style Kimchi 

1 (2-pound) napa cabbage 
1/2 cup kosher salt 
6-8 radishes, cut into matchsticks (or daikon if you can find it) 
4 medium scallions, ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces 
1/4 cup assorted chili pepper mix (intended for sushi OR Korean red pepper powder if you can find it OR 2 tbsp cayenne pepper) 

1/4 cup good quality fish sauce (Red Boat brand is great and pretty widely available.  Just look for something with no preservatives that needs to be refrigerated after it's been opened.  This means that it's ALIVE and that it makes a fantastic ferment starter!)

1/4 cup peeled and minced fresh ginger 
1 small head of garlic, peeled and minced 
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar

Cut the cabbage in half lengthwise, then crosswise into 2-inch pieces, discarding the core end. Place in a large bowl, sprinkle with the salt, and toss with your hands until the cabbage is coated. Add enough cold water to just cover,  making sure the cabbage is  completely submerged  Cover/weigh down with a plate and let sit at room temperature for 24 hours.

 Place a colander in the sink and drain the cabbage retaining about 1/4 cup of brine in a seperate small bowl.  Gently squeeze out the excess liquid and transfer to a medium bowl; set aside.

Assemble your radishes, scallions, pepper mix, ginger, garlic, and sugar in a bowl.

 Add the fish sauce and toss everything together.

  Separate out some of the thicker/bigger chunks of cabbage and reserve ( maybe 10 pieces should do it). Pack your kimchi tightly into 2, 1 quart size mason jars.  Place the bigger chunks of cabbage over the top so that the small pieces don't  float up to the top during the ferment.  Add an extra shake of fishsauce to each jar for good measure and then top off with the reserved brine if your kimchi is not yet completely submerged in liquid. * Most recipes don't worry about this last little step with the brine and making sure everything is 100% submerged.   It's been my personal experience that you're always better off with complete submersion to avoid mold/yeast contamination.  Cap tightly with lids and rings. 

This is a fairly quick ferment and very active.  I am currently on day 5 of the ferment process.  Days 2 through 4 required me to burp the jars at least once every few hours (I ignored them overnight though and they didn't explode... so that was a plus!).  Most people say that Kimchi is ready to eat on day 7, but that it improves with time and continues to improve in the refridgerator for weeks after the initial room-temperature ferment. 

"The Fermentation Station" from left to right:  Kimchi, Apple Scrap Vinegar, and Sauerkraut


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