Kimchi is Korea’s national dish and it is a staple in Korean cuisine. A kind of pickle that is made from fermenting various types of vegetables with some sort of fish, many Koreans eat it daily at almost every meal including breakfast. Frequently cut into bite sized pieces and served on its own as a side dish it is also a common ingredient used in many Korean dishes such as fried rice, soups, stews, pancakes and omelettes.
Here is “Godmother’s recipe” for the spicy cabbage version, which is probably the most common type found outside of Korea.
2 kg Chinese leaf
250 g coarse sea salt
20g Glutinous rice flour
450g Daikon radish, peeled and shredded
180g Carrot, peeled and shredded
100g Spring onion, cut into 1.5 inch sections
35g Ginger, finely minced
25 Cloves of garlic, finely minced
60g Fresh red chilli, finely minced
100g Red pepper powder
1 tbsp Korean prawn fish sauce
2 tbsp Sugar
You will need
Small balloon whisk
Disposable plastic gloves (optional)
Large plastic bowl or basin that can hold enough water for the cabbage to be completely submerged in water
1. Cut the cabbage in half length ways.
2. Starting at the outer layers, salt the cabbage by rubbing salt between each leaf, do not separate the leaves. Continue layer by layer towards the centre until you are unable to open out the leaves. Repeat for the other half of the cabbage.
3. Dissolve the remaining salt in enough water to completely submerge the whole cabbage.
4. Soak in salt bath for 10-13 hours (depending on the weather – longer if cool and shorter if warm). Weigh the cabbage down with a plate.
5. Take the cabbage out, carefully wring out excess water and set aside to drain further. The cabbage will have reduced in size by about one third.
6. Make a glutinous rice sauce. In a small saucepan, whisk the glutenous rice flour with water, heat on a medium flame till it simmers and the mixture thickens. It should coat the back of a spoon and you should be able to draw a line in it with your finger (don’t worry if there are a few small lumps). Allow to cool.
7. Add all of the remaining ingredients together with your cooled rice sauce into your large plastic bowl or basin and mix together throughly.
8. With gloved hands and apron on (if using), carefully marinade and stuff one side of the cabbage with your mixture, in much the same way as you did with the salt. Start from the outside and work your way in. Once all the layers are filled, rearrange the cabbage back into shape and place it, cut side down into your airtight container. Repeat for the other side of the cabbage.
9. Scrape any left over mixture or liquid from your basin in with your cabbage.
10. Seal the container tightly and allow to fermentate for 3-5 days in the refrigerator.
A little more about Kimchi
- There are over 180 different types of Kimchi.
- Not all Kimchi will contain chilli.
- Mostly made of vegetables, and being a fermented food, Kimchi is considered to be extremely good for you. It is low in fat and contains high amounts of fibre, vitamins, minerals and beneficial bacterias.
- Kimchi is often made by families in large batches at home, each family having their own special style or ingredients.
- Traditionally when refrigeration was not available, kimchi was made in the winter and stored in the ground in large kimchi pots.
- Kimchi is such an important food to Koreans that in Korea, you can purchase special kimchi refrigerators where the temperature can be kept at a specifically set constant to best develop and preserve flavours of the type of Kimchi that is being made/stored.
Thank you Min Ching for sharing your recipe and taking the time to make it with me, as always it was so much fun!