Kimchi, a fiery, fermented mixture of vegetables and various seasonings. It is the most common banchan (side dish) in Korean cuisine and it is used to make several Korean dishes like kimchi stew (kimchi jigae), kimchi fried rice (kimchi bokkeumbap), kimchi dumplings (kimchi mandu). There are many types of kimchi depending on the vegetable you use, but baechu kimchi (napa cabbage kimchi) remains my favourite.
Kimchi is not only tasty, it is also very healthy. It is loaded with vitamins A, B, and C, and contains lactobacilli, which is a “healthy bacteria” found in fermented foods like yogurt. This good bacteria helps with digestion. Besides, kimch is also belived to lower cholesterol and prevent certain types of cancer.
Kimchi is extremely easy to make, the hardest part is chopping up all the different vegetables. If you have someone to help you with that, everything else is a breeze! This recipe is adapted from Maangchi’s easy kimchi recipe, which involves making a glutinous rice flour base. Apparently, the paste helps the Kimchi to ferment more quickly and also thickens the juice. And also makes it more smooth and well balanced. Can’t comment on that as I’ve not tried making kimchi without using the paste. Another note, please use Korean red hot pepper flakes, I tried using chili powder and it came out weird. The colour was murky and it just didn’t taste right.
Home-made Baechu Kimchi
Prep time: 3 hrs
Ferment time: 1-2 days
Yield: about 2.5 kg
- 1 large (about 2.3 kg) Chinese/ napa cabbage
- 1/2 cup salt
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup glutinous rice flour
- 2 tbs sugar
- 1/2 radish – julienned
- 2 carrots – julienned
- 2 large stalks (about 1 cup) spring onion – cut into 1-inch in length
- 1/2 pear
- 1 small onion
- 1 thumb size ginger
- 1 bulb garlic
- 5 tbs Thai fish sauce (or to taste)
- 1 cup Korean hot pepper flakes (or to taste)
- Cut the cabbage lengthwise into quarters and remove the cores. Chop it up into bite size pieces.
- Soak the pieces of cabbage in cold water and put the soaked cabbage into a large basin. Sprinkle salt.
- Every 30 minutes, turn the cabbage over to salt evenly. I left it to salt for about 2 1/2 hours.
- Rinse the cabbage in cold water a few times to clean it thoroughly. Drain and dry. I got rid of most of the water with a salad spinner.
For rice porridge:
- Mix together water and glutinous rice flour in a pot.
- Cook under low heat until a translucent paste is formed.
- Leave to cool.
For kimchi paste:
- Using a food processor, blend together all ingredients for kimchi paste except the hot pepper flakes.
- Mix together all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Remember to wear gloves or cover your hands with plastic before mixing!
- Season to taste.
- Put the kimchi into an air-tight sealed plastic bag container or glass jar.
- You can eat it fresh right after making or wait until it’s fermented. Let stand for one to two days in a cool dark place, at room temperature. Check kimchi after 1 or 2 days, if it’s bubbling a bit, it’s ready and should be refrigerated. If not, leave it for another day or so.