This recipe for kimchi has been a long-awaited blog post and by far the most requested I have had to date. This will be my last post for the year so I can enjoy some uninterrupted down time with my family and our friends. I am also excited to work on some recipes and other projects over the next few weeks that I will share in the new year. I will post the odd photo on Instagram over the holiday season.
Kimchi is a Korean side dish of seasoned vegetables, often fermented, that is eaten with most meals. This variation is a staple in our household. We are rarely without it and eat it with many different dishes including rice and noodle based dishes, as well as in soup. Soups are a great way to introduce kimchi to little ones as the broth helps to dilute the spice while still keeping the signature tangy flavour.
When we make kimchi we usually make about 10 litres at a time, no joke. We really love the stuff. And because it is fermented it will keep in the fridge for many months, slowly developing a more beautiful flavour. This recipe makes about 3-4 litres worth but you can make more or less, depending on what your preference is. My friends and I often get together to make a large batch in order to share the workload and will triple this recipe between about 6 to 8 of us. It also makes a great gift for anyone who loves food.
This recipe requires pre-soaking of the vegetables in a brine for a minimum of 2 hours or overnight – so make sure to plan for that! This helps to remove some liquid from the vegetables to create a better consistency for the kimchi.
2 large napa cabbages (5kgish) – cored and chopped into bite-size pieces after removing dark outer leaves (or green cabbage if napa cabbage is out of season or unavailable)
7 litres of water (ideally filtered)
350 gms sea salt (non-iodised)
3 large carrots – peeled and thinly sliced or julienned
1 medium turnip or swede – peeled, quartered and very thinly sliced or julienned
1/4 daikon radish – peeled, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced (or 1 bunch radishes thinly sliced)
Kimchi Chilli Paste
1 large whole bulb (or two small bulbs) garlic – peeled
2 large apples – peeled, cored and chopped
1 small onion or 1/2 large – peeled and chopped into 8 pieces
5 cm piece of ginger – peeled and roughly chopped
1/4 cup raw sugar
2-3 TBLS sea salt – adjust to taste
150 gms Korean red chilli flakes (different to standard chilli flakes and can be found at asian food supply stores)
water for mixing chilli paste
Place 350gms sea salt in a VERY large bowl or a plastic tub. Bring 1 litre of the 7 litres of water to a boil and pour over the salt and stir to dissolve. Add the other 6 remaining litres of water to the bowl and stir until all of the salt is dissolved. Allow to cool while chopping the veggies.
Add chopped cabbage, carrots, turnip or swede, and daikon or radish to the brine and push down to cover all veggies. Place a large plate on top to weigh down veggies and keep them under the brine. Allow to sit for a minimum of 2 hours but up to 24 hours at room temperature. After the soaking time, remove about a cup of liquid and set aside. Drain remaining liquid and rinse the veggies well under cold water. Allow to drain well while making the paste. You may have to squeeze out excess water.
To make the chilli paste, place garlic, apples, onion, ginger, sugar and salt into a food processor and process into a smooth paste. You can also use a stick/immersion blender and large measuring cup for this. Mix the chilli flakes with enough water to form a thick paste. Add this to the puree and mix well.
Place drained veggies back into the bowl and pour over the chilli paste mixture. Mix well using a large wooden spoon or your hands (with gloves!) to ensure all of the veggies are evenly coated in the chilli paste. Taste the mixture and see if it needs more salt. It should taste quite salty, but not offensively salty. The sweetness will subside during fermentation and the kimchi will become sour and salty.
Scoop mixture into VERY clean or sterilised jars or a fermenting crock, pressing the veggies down to remove air bubbles and leave at least 4 cm to allow the kimchi to expand during fermentation. Add a TBLS or two of the leftover brine if the kimchi isn’t submerged in the liquid when pushed down. Seal the jars and allow the kimchi to sit for 5-14 days to ferment. After 5 days you can open the jars to taste the kimchi. Taste only once per day until the desired flavour develops (or until you can’t wait any longer!).