My husband's family introduced me to kimchi. If I remember correctly, my first taste was okay. But each time I ate it I found myself enjoying it even more. What is kimchi anyway? While there are variations, it's basically fermented, chili-spiced cabbage. I made cultured (fermented) salsa last summer, which uses a similar preparation process as kimchi, so I knew the process would work. When properly fermented, the kimchi (or salsa) has liquid that fizzes.
Why make your own kimchi? While kimchi is available for purchase at even regular grocery stores, homemade kimchi is much fresher. I've opened some store-bought jars of kimchi that were pretty questionable and tasted a little off. Also, kimchi is pretty easy, it just takes patience.
Last week I finally made a trip out to a mega-grocery store that specializes in international foods. It really is an amazing place...I spent a very long time there and will be going back much sooner than I did last time. Actually, it was very rewarding to see food I recognize after this past year of spending a lot of time studying food and recipes.
The recipe calls for coarse Korean chili powder, but I didn't write that detail down on my shopping list. While at the store, I found both coarse and fine powder, and ended up getting fine. Below is a photo of the pepper paste (left) and powder (right) to help you find some, as the English print was very small.
One last note: next time I will add daikon radish.
UPDATE: Both my husband and I agreed this kimchi was off, and it was due to the Korean chili pepper paste (gochujang), which has added sugar. I have made this several more times omitting the paste and liked it much better. I have modified the recipe.
from David Lebovitz
1 large Napa cabbage (2 pounds)
2 tablespoons coarse salt (do not use fine table salt)
1/3 cup white rice vinegar
1 tablespoon very-finely minced garlic
2 tablespoons coarse Korean chili powder (gokchu garu)
1/2 tablespoon very-finely minced fresh ginger
4 scallions, sliced in 2-inch (5cm) batons, including the green part
1 cup julienned daikon radish (optional)
1. Remove the tough outer leaves of the cabbage and slice it lengthwise in half. Remove the core.
2. Cut the cabbage into 2-inch pieces. Toss the cabbage with the salt in a large bowl, then transfer it to a non-reactive colander. Set a plate on top then weigh it down with something heavy for 24 hours.
3. Mix together the vinegar, garlic, chili powder, and ginger in a large, non-reactive bowl. The original recipe says to let this stand overnight as well, but I didn’t.
4. Add the cabbage in handfuls to the marinade, taking small bunches at the time and squeezing them of any excess water before adding them to the marinade. Mix the cabbage with the marinade, adding the scallions and daikon radish as well.
5. Pack into a jar, cover tightly, and let stand at room temperature 48 hours, then chill for 4 days before serving.