February 17, 2014

homemade kimchi

There are two kinds of pickles that I always keep in the refrigerator: kimchi and sauerkraut. Both homemade.

I have always loved kimchi. I remember years ago before I became vegan and had an obsession with this pickle, I made kimchi using an "authentic" recipe with salted shrimp, fish sauce, sugar and all. I started making it again—this time vegan and sugar-free—last summer when I joined a local CSA. I wanted to preserve the abundance of produce that was otherwise taking up the space in the refrigerator.

This recipe is loosely based on one that I saw in a raw foods cookbook. I've changed some things around to my liking. Follow these simple steps and you will have flavorful kimchi in just a few days.

You will need...

two stainless steel bowls
grater (I highly recommend a Microplane grater) 
one half-gallon Mason jar with lid


1 head napa cabbage (2 to 2 1/2 pounds)
1/2 daikon radish (about 8 oz) or 2 hakurei turnips

2 TBS sea salt
1/2 cup water

1 medium carrot, sliced into thin matchsticks
1/2 bunch green onions, cut into 1 inch lengths
3 cloves of garlic, grated
1 small knob of ginger, grated (about 1 TBS)
1 to 1 1/2 TBS Korean chili pepper (coarse type, no salt added)
2 tsp brown rice syrup (optional)


Prepare the vegetables. Peel away the leaves of the napa cabbage, stack them together, cut them in half lengthwise and slice them into 1-inch widths (see photo below). Slice the daikon or hakurei turnips in half-moons (or quarter-moons depending on the size). 

Place the cut vegetables in a large bowl. Sprinkle the salt and pour water. Massage lightly with your hands. Cover the bowl with a kitchen cloth and let this sit for about 8 hours or overnight.

Drain the salted vegetables in a colander set over a bowl. Gently press the vegetables to squeeze out the water. Reserve the strained liquid. This becomes the brine. Take the drained vegetables and put them back in the big bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well with your hands.

Take a half-gallon Mason jar and pack it tightly with the vegetables mixed with spices. Pour the brine into the jar. Leave about an inch of space on top as gas develops in the course of fermentation. Press down the vegetables and seal the jar with a lid. Let it sit at room temperature for a few days.

Check your kimchi at least once a day. Open the jar to release any gas that forms. Press down on the kimchi to make sure the vegetables are submerged in the brine.

After three days, taste the kimchi. Store the jar in the refrigerator when it's mature enough to your liking.

Kimchi is great added to pan-fried rice, served with mung bean pancakes or eaten straight out of the jar. My favorite way to enjoy kimchi is to pair it with natto, fermented soybeans, served on top of warm bowl of rice. Natto is another wonderful product of fermentation, and I have been making it from scratch as well. If you like this slimy stinky delicacy, it is pretty easy to make at home if you have an incubator, gas oven with a pilot or a dehydrator. I guess that calls for another blog post!

1 comment:

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