This Korean kim chi is vegetarian, quick, lasts for months, and loaded with probiotics. Not to mention budget friendly. Store bought kim chi is generally a piggybank breaker.
Why homemade probiotics are the way to go
Upon return home from Asia, my daughter "forced" the household onto her probiotics bandwagon. Not the worst. Her claim was that the sauerkraut, kim chi, kombucha etc at the supermarket are more regulated, sometimes pasteurized, hence not packed with the good-for-your-gut bacteria. Homemade is the way to go to get the kim chi benefits.
In Asia, fermented foods are a standard at meals. She said even at restaurants people would order a plate of pickled vegetables.
Where did we get the recipe for kim chi?
One of her prized items from Asia was for Korean kim chi recipe. She got it from a shop owner, who got it from a Korean expat. So we knew it would be delicious, but also accommodate for ingredient scarcity expats run into. She told us that people improvised, and often.
What? No fermentation weights??
I appreciate that this recipe for making kim chi is vegetarian. I'll leave adding shrimp/octopus/fish to the pros. This one's prep is just under an hour. No need for fermentation weights, I've got a hack for that. Jar it and forget it for 3 days. Another thing, this kim chi has come out perfect time after time. My daughter says she went through a lot of duds before this shop keeper handed over recipe gold.
Step by Step How to Make Kim chi
- Gather your ingredients: gochugaru flakes, fresh minced ginger, minced garlic, salt, match stick carrots, green onion, apple and napa cabbage. ( Note: If you don't have gochugaru flakes at your local Asian market you can substitute the same amount of the ever popular crushed red pepper flakes or sriracha.)
- Cut 2 lbs. green or napa cabbage into bite-sized squares. Set aside a few whole outer leaves.
- Use a large bowl or pot and sprinkle 2 tbsp of sea salt over the leaves. Massage and toss the salt into the leaves for 1 minute. Let the cabbage wilt for 2 hours at room temperature.
- After the cabbage is done wilting, RINSE and DRAIN IT. Pat the leaves dry too. This step is very important as it removes excess salt.
- In a food processor, blend up one apple, chili pepper flakes, garlic, and ginger.
- This should resemble a paste. Cover it and pop in the fridge.
- Add the cabbage and carrots to a large bowl. Chop up green onions into 1 inch pieces and add those. Add the paste after all the vegetables are mixed.
- Put on gloves for this step. (Why? Because chili WILL burn your hands). Next, take your paste out of the fridge and combine it all with the cabbage.
- When the cabbage is well-coated, pack it into mason jars. Take the spare leaves, fold them and pack them into the top of the jar. This will keep the pieces down under the brine.
- Add a small amount of water to each jar. Only enough to keep everything under the brine. GO SLOWLY. The mixture does need breathing room at the top. Use a paper towel and mason jar ring or recap with airlock.
I recommend letting it sit at least three days or two days if you live in a tropical climate. If your climate is cold and dry, taste it after three days. Bubbles are normal, and good! It should still have crunch, but the tanginess of sauerkraut.
Then, when it's ready, remove and discard the top "weight" leaves and store airtight in the fridge. It will keep for 3-5 months.
Pair this kimchi with fluffy rice and one of my many Asian recipes.
Vietnamese Coconut Pork-Tender stewed pork with creamy coconut
Indonesian Turmeric Rice with Cashews- Warming turmeric and crunchy cashews make an aromatic dish
Spicy Shrimp Sushi Bowl- Tender shrimp, creamy avocado, and tangy sushi rice
Super Easy Pad Thai- Umami noodles with tender shrimp, herbs, and lime
A foolproof kimchi recipe that never fails. If you like spicy fermented vegetables this is perfect for you!
Wash all vegetables. Set aside a few outer leaves of the cabbage.
Cut the cabbage into small, square pieces. Think bite size. Cut the green onion into ½ inch pieces. Put onions in the fridge.
Sprinkle cabbage with sea salt. Massage for 1 minute to ensure all cabbage is coated in salt. After this, allow the cabbage to wilt for 2 hours at room temperature.
In a food processor or mortar, combine apple, ginger, garlic, and chili until smooth. Save this in the fridge for later. This is your paste.
After 2 hours, drain the cabbage and pat the leaves dry. This will remove the excess salt.
Use gloves. Combine paste, carrots, green onion, and cabbage until it's all well-coated.
Pack the kimchi into glass jars leaving room at the top. Fold the extra leaves and press them into the top to hold down the smaller leaves. This will save you from using fermentation weights.
SLOWLY add water to the jars until everything is under the brine. Make sure to leave ½ inch of breathing room at the top. Use mason jar rings and a paper towel or reCAP with an airlock to seal.
Leave out at room temperature for 2-4 days.
When finished, place sealed in fridge. It keeps for 3-5 months.