Kimchi is a staple in Korean cuisine and kimchi has become a staple in our home. Both of my kids absolutely love it and we always try to have several jars on hand. We use it as a side dish with a meal or it's the main attraction if we make Kimchi Soup or Kimchi Jigae.
Kimchi dates back before the times of Christ. I think I understand why this dish has persisted for thousands of years.
There are many varieties of kimchi, but I'll share one here that, I believe, tastes just as good as the versions I've had in fine Korean restaurants. It's authentic and easy but requires just a little chopping effort.
Benefits of Kimchi
Kimchi is high in fiber and loaded with lactobacilli (the good bugs that you need in your gut). Both the fiber and probiotics aid in digestion and may even prevent the proliferation of yeast. Studies are also showing that fermented foods can even have mental health benefits. (1)
1 napa cabbage or Chinese cabbage
1 large-ish daikon radish
1 bunch of green onions
salt (to taste)
For the porridge/sauce:
1 tablespoon of glutinous rice flour (sticky rice flour)
3/4 cup of water
1/2 tbs sugar
To be added to the porridge/sauce to make the paste:
1 inch stub of ginger
1 large white onion (coarsely chopped)
5 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup fish sauce (can be found in most grocery stores or an Asian market)
1/2 cup of hot pepper flakes
1. Cut up the cabbage into approximately 1 inch pieces. Clean and rinse the cabbage and set aside in a large bowl.
2. Salt the cabbage. I would say around 2 tbs or so of salt evenly distributed. Let it sit for a bit and the water from the cabbage will start to release.
3. Now cut your veggies. I julienne my carrots and daikon radish. You certainly don't have to, but that's the shape I prefer. I don't think it would make a big difference to cut them differently. Cut the green onions into 1 inch pieces.
4. Now make the porridge. Add the 1/2 cup of water to a stove and turn the stove to medium. While the water's heating up, add the glutinous rice flour and sugar. Stir immediately so it doesn't clump. As the water heats, the mixture will thicken.Keep stirring. Set aside after it reaches gravy-like consistency. If it's too thick, add more water.
5. Add the porridge, roughly cut onion, garlic, fish sauce and hot pepper flakes all together and blend. I use an immersion blender, but a regular blender would work or a food processor. It should come out with a paste-like consistency.
6. Now, add everything together and mix. As I said, I do not measure so these are my guestimates! I hope it works well. This is how I finish up my kimchi. I taste it after it's been mixed together and if it needs more salt or fish sauce, I add it. If I like the taste then I add it to the jars.
I leave the kimchi out to ferment for a few days to a week. It will need to be 'burped' so it doesn't explode :) (I've had that nearly happen) Just open up the jars every day and let out the air that's trapped. I wrote above salt to taste because that's exactly how I do it. Taste your kimchi throughout the process. After the porridge has been added and it's still not to your liking then maybe add some fish sauce or salt until it reaches a flavor that you like. I've found that if I like the flavor before it's fermented then I will like it even more after it's fermented.
Happy fermenting, folks!