Kimchi is Korea’s national dish and considered to be one of the world’s healthiest foods. Low in calories and with loads of vitamins and dietary fiber, Kimchi is an ideal food to kick off the New Year. One serving can provide 50% or more of the daily recommended amount of carotene and vitamin C as well as good helpings of vitamin A, B1, B2, iron and calcium. And, because it contains a variety of lactic acid bacteria, it provides great digestive properties to boot!
Perhaps you are now wondering how you can make your very own kimchi. Well, you could get all traditional and bury that shit in your backyard but let’s not get crazy! Here’s a quick and easy version of it that we sort of adapted from Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee’s Quick and Easy Korean Cooking (which is an awesome cookbook, by the way).
Easy, Breezy Kimchi
I have only provided a rough guide for measurements as the beauty of this recipe is it is highly adaptable to your particular taste. So if you can make it as spicy, gingery or garlicky as you like.
What You Need:
1-2 Heads of Napa Cabbage (these vary by size so either 1 large or 2 small)
1 Medium Daikon Radish
1-1/2 Cups Water (enough to cover Daikon & Cabbage)
1/8 to 1/4 cup of Sea Salt or Kosher Salt
3-6 Green Onions roughly chopped
1-2 Tbsp Chopped, Grated or Minced Ginger
1-3 Tbsp Chopped or Minced Garlic
Chili Paste to taste (Sambul Olek is a good choice)
Instead of the chili paste you can use the more traditional Korean chili powder (gochugaru) if you can find it
1-2 Tbls Fish Sauce*
1 Chopped jalapeño Pepper (optional)
Dissolve salt in water and set aside. Cut the cabbage into quarters and discard the end and the core. Roughly chop. You should end up with about 4-5 cups of chopped cabbage. Rinse in a colander and set aside. Peel the daikon and quarter it lengthwise and then chop into 1/4 to ½ inch pieces. Place both the cabbage and daikon the in a large bowl and pour the salt water over it. Make sure all the veg is covered. Press cabbage and daikon down if necessary and/or add more water. Loosely cover and let sit at room temp overnight or for at least 6 hours.
Stuff the mixture into various sized mason jars. Typically 1 large head of cabbage will fill 2 larger mason jars (quart) and possibly an additional pint size jar. Pour reserved liquid over until it just covers the mixture, leaving some room at the top (about an inch). You want to do this kind of slow so you don’t get too many air pockets.
Place the jars somewhere dark and relatively cool for a few days or up to a week depending on how much you want it pickled (fermented). Keep in mind the more fermented the kimchi, the stronger the flavor is going to be. Also, the warmer the environment, the faster the fermentation is going to take place. Refrigerate after opening. It is a matter of opinion how long it lasts after this! Kimchi is great to eat on its own, as a side dish, or as an ingredient in Korean pancakes, dumplings, fried rice or even tacos.
*See links below for a few recipes for vegan fish sauce.
You can also find it your local Asian grocers. If not you can definitely order it online.
Happy New Year!