Little known outside of Korea until relatively recently, this fiery, fermented cabbage has taken the world by storm. Used more as a seasoning than a garnish in its native land, a little spicy cabbage livens up any number of dishes, plus it’s surprisingly easy to prepare and keeps for months. What could be useful.
Homework 25 min, plus salting time
Cook None, but allow at least 5 days to ferment
brands 1 bottle of 1 liter
180 g coarse saltplus 2 extra teaspoons
1 large cabbage – preferably a Chinese one, but any will do
300g daikon or other radish
1 large carrot
3 spring onions
4 garlic cloves
4 cm ginger rootbare
40 g of salted prawns (saeu-jeot), finely chopped (optional)
50 g Korean red chili flakes (gochugaru)
1 teaspoon of sugar
2 tablespoons of fish sauce (optional)
1 The basics
There are hundreds of types of kimchi that use different vegetables, seasonings, and even fruits; this is a stripped down version made with ingredients that should be pretty easy to come by locally or online. If you prefer to keep it vegetarian, or you can’t find dried shrimp or fish sauce, leave them out. Other chili flakes will do the same, if needed, although they will taste different.
2 Boil and cool salt water
In a saucepan we put a liter and a half of water with the salt, and put it on medium heat. Heat, stirring, until the salt has dissolved, then pour into a chilled bowl and allow to cool while you prepare the cabbage. Some say you should use chlorine-free water, which for most of us will mean mineral water, but tap water works for me.
3 Prepare the cabbage
While the brine cools, wash the cabbage and cut it into quarters lengthwise. Carefully cut and discard the woody core of each quarter (or save for the vegetable stock), then, working crosswise rather than along the leaves, cut the quarters into thick slices about 4cm wide, but not It doesn’t matter if they are a bit bigger or smaller.
4 Soak the cabbage in the brine
Photograph: Dan Matthews/The Guardian
Place the cabbage slices in a large bowl and pour over the cooled water, stirring so that all the leaves come in contact with the brine. Let stand at room temperature, turning occasionally, until the tough white stems have wilted, which will probably take two to three hours.
5 Prepare the other vegetables
Wash and cut the radish and carrot into bite-sized cubes (if using small radishes, this may be a matter of halving). Sprinkle with two teaspoons of salt, let sit for half an hour, then drain. Wash and chop the spring onion coarsely, using all of the green part except the toughest part.
6 Make the seasoning
Crush or finely chop the garlic, ginger, and salted shrimp, if using (if not, you can add a quarter teaspoon of fine salt to offset). Put them in a bowl with the chilli flakes, sugar and fish sauce, if using, mix well and loosen with 150ml of cold water.
7 Rinse and dress the cabbage
Rinse the cabbage very well under cold water, washing between the leaves to remove any salt that may still have adhered to it, then drain well. Shake the leaves to dry on a clean kitchen towel, then return them to the large bowl. Pour in seasoning and stir to coat; Gloves are recommended if you use your hands.
8 Pack the kimchi in a jar
Pour the kimchi into a clean jar, pitcher, or pot, pressing down very firmly to minimize the amount of air trapped between the leaves. As much of the cabbage as possible should be submerged in the liquid it emits, so you should weigh it down (a clean plastic bag filled with cold water should do the trick), then seal the jar.
9 Let ferment
Place the jar in a cool place out of direct sunlight for five days, check it and push it down under the liquid as needed (more will come off as it sits), then taste; it should be slightly spicy at this point. Once bitter enough to your liking, refrigerate to pause the fermentation process and consume as desired; It will keep for months.