Homemade Kimchi, Kimchee or Kimchi

Kimchi is very easy to make and just takes patience to get through the first day or two. Which ever way you spell it kimchee, kimchi or kimuchi, this simple condiment is worth the wait and is a beneficial mixture to add to your weekly meal plans!  Use as a side dish, in a sandwich, with cold meat, a topping for hot or cold rice. Make fritters or pancakes. Have it with eggs for breakfast, or in a hot ramen soup. Add it to a tomato sauce for a spicy pasta sauce. It can be eaten in pretty much any style you wish.

Eat as is or try it in a combination of ways. It’s great, with noodles, miso or chicken soup, in stews, on salad, over pasta and even on pizza!

When you’ve eaten all the kimchi out of the jar, there’s probably going to be some liquid left in there—please don’t throw it away! That stuff is liquid gold, flavor-wise. Stir it into mayo or sour cream for a dip with a nice little kick of spice and funk. Or use it as the base of a salad dressing. Or simply use the liquid as part of the cooking liquid for your next batch of steamed rice—you really can’t go wrong with it.

Seafood gives kimchi an umami flavor. Different regions and families may use fish sauce, salted shrimp paste, oysters, and other seafood. Use about 2 tablespoons of fish sauce, salted shrimp paste, or a combination of the two. For vegetarian kimchi, I like using 3/4 teaspoon kelp powder mixed with 3 tablespoons water, or simply 3 tablespoons of water.

Fermenting creates good bacteria which helps with gut health. It can help with IBS, boost your immunity, aid in weight loss and even promote better skin. Kimchi is a mixture of vegetables and spices that go through a fermentation process. Fermenting foods have long been known for their health benefits.

HOMEMADE KIMCHI, KIMCHEE, OR KIMUCHI

You can enjoy kimchi fresh right after you mix it and store it straight in the fridge. You may like to experiment by putting half the recipe in the fridge and the other half in the pantry to ferment & sour to see which flavor your favorite is.

  • 1 medium Napa Cabbage, about 2 lbs. (Savoy, Green Cabbage or any variety will work)
  • ¼ cup Kosher Salt, Sea Salt or other coarse salt
  • 6 cups Water, preferably filtered
  • ¾ sweet Apple chopped (vegan option) OR 1 teaspoon Sugar and 2 tablespoons Fish sauce or Shrimp paste (traditional) OR 3 tablespoons water (not sweet option)
  • ½ small white Onion, chopped 
  • 1 cup Daikon Radish or combination Red Radish, Carrots, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 ½ inch or 1 teaspoon fresh Ginger, chopped
  • 2 – 5 cloves Garlic grated
  • 1 – 5 tablespoons Korean Red Chili powder (gochugaru) or 1 tablespoon each Cayenne & Hungarian Paprika
  • 3 – 4 Green Onions sliced 1 inch

Quarter cabbage and chop into about 2-inch pieces. Place cabbage in an extra-large bowl or pot. 

Place the cabbage in a large bowl and sprinkle with the salt. Using your hands, massage the salt into the cabbage until it starts to soften a bit. Add enough water to cover the cabbage. Put a plate on top of the cabbage and weigh it down with something heavy. Give cabbage a good mix every now and then. Let soak for 2 – 4 hours, up to 12. 

Rinse the cabbage under cold water 3 times. Set aside to drain in a colander for 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, make the spice paste.

Whatever style you are making, combine apple, onion, ginger and garlic in food processor/blender and process until smooth. OR Add the garlic, ginger, sugar, and fish sauce, shrimp paste, OR water and stir into a smooth paste. Stir in the chili pepper, using 1 tablespoon for mild and up to 5 tablespoons for spicy set aside until the cabbage is ready

Once cabbage is ready, gently squeeze any remaining water, reserving ½ cup. Place cabbage back in large bowl, combine with the scallions, apple/onion mixture and chili paste. Mix well using your hands to coat all pieces. Either use your hands (with gloves on to protect from the chili pepper) or simply use wooden spoons to toss everything.

Pack the kimchi into a 1-quart jar. Press down on the kimchi until the brine (the liquid that comes out) rises to cover the vegetables, leaving at least 1 inch of space at the top. Seal the jar. If you don’t have a glass jar, plastic containers with lids will work just as well. If you have too much room, more than an inch, place plastic wrap over top, but sinking in close to the surface of the kimchi to remove air, and cover with lid.

Kimchi relies on fermentation, or the digestion of sugars into acid, gases, or alcohol. This process is what gives kimchi its hallmark effervescence, tanginess, and tasty funk, captured through the natural dynamics between bacteria and their environment.

Let it ferment for 1 to 5 days. Place a bowl or plate under the jar to help catch any overflow. Let kimchi sit at room temp (or in a cool place like a pantry or closet if weather is extremely warm) for 24 – 36 hours. After 24 hours, open kimchi and pack the mixture down with a spoon (the cabbage will have likely shrunk and you’ll have more liquids Kimchi shouldn’t taste bad, it should have a tangy, slightly sour and crisp flavour) you may notice it bubbles as it ferments, this is normal and a good sign you’re doing it right as the kimchi is fermenting. As your kimchi ferments the flavors will develop, taste every 24 hours and place kimchi in the refrigerator once you’re happy with the taste and to slow fermentation, usually after 36 – 48 hours. It should be tangy, spicy and slightly sweet. After moving to the fridge, it’s best used within a month, maybe two.

Makes about 3 – 4 cups

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