My typical workday lunch consists of a mixture of brown rice, black beans, chicken thighs, salt, pepper and hot sauce. It’s good. It’s really good. But day after day, week after week, I start to long for a little more pizzazz. I’m a man of routine so I don’t really want to deviate from my schedule of making a big batch of chicken, beans and rice for the week – it’s simple. it’s healthy, and it’s tasty – I just wanted a little something extra to add to my meals here and there.
What I came up with with was kimchi – the Korean version of sauerkraut. It’s basically fermented cabbage with spices. Don’t get scared away yet – I know the word ‘fermented’ usually triggers unpleasant thoughts (or a physical gag…) but fermented food is wicked good for you – plus it’s delicious to boot!
So let’s dig in!
Prep Time: 3 hours Cook Time: 1 – 2 days fermenting Total Time: 2 days
- 1 head napa cabbage
- 1/4 cup salt (any salt works but make sure it is NOT iodized!)
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 to 3 tablespoons Korean red pepper
- 1 cup radish (sliced into matchsticks)
- 1 bunch scallions (chopped)
The key to kimchi is making damn sure that everything you do – all the ingredients and your JAR(S) ESPECIALLY are clean, Clean, CLEAN! So first thing first:
WASH YOUR HANDS!
All washed up? Good! Now wash your jars!
Alright – now, take your napa cabbage and cut it in half. Then cut it into quarters. Remove the cores and chop your cabbage into one inch pieces and throw it into a large bowl or container
Sprinkle the salt over the cabbage and gently massage it into the cabbage for a minute or two – massaging the salt into the cabbage causes the cabbage to release water and wilt/become soft
Now add enough water to cover your cabbage (note: you don’t want to use chlorinated water so if your tap water is chlorinated, you want to use spring water. Chlorine will kill the good bacteria that causes the fermentation). Weigh down the cabbage so that all of it is submerged.
Let the submerged cabbage sit for two hours – this brines your cabbage which is a crucial step to the kimchi making process. After the two hours, give your cabbage a quick rinse to remove the excess salt. While you’re at it, rinse and dry out the bowl/container that you brined your cabbage in – you’ll be using it again later.
Now it’s time to make our sauce. Combine your soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and Korean red pepper in a small bowl and mix. After mixing, let the mixture sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
While your sauce is sitting, chop up your scallions and radishes – make sure your radishes are cut into matchsticks.
Throw the rinsed cabbage, the chopped scallions and the matchstick radishes back into the bowl/container you used to brine your cabbage
Now add your sauce and massage it into the veggies so that it is fully incorporated
With your raw kimchi complete, it’s now time to stuff it into our jar(s) – I used a single quart jar for mine, but you could stick it into any size/amount of jars that you have. Stuff the kimchi into the jar(s) and press down so that the liquid rises to the top – you want your liquid to cover your veggies completely. Be sure to leave at least a 1 inch airspace between your veggies/liquid and the top of the jar(s).
With your jar(s) all set, lightly screw the lid on – you don’t want to screw the lid on tight as the fermentation process is going to give off a lot of gas – if you leave your cap screwed on tight and forget about it, you could have a biiiiiiig mess (not to mention glass shrapnel everywhere…). Lightly screw the cap on and let it sit in room temperature for 1 to 3 days. I put a bowl under mine to catch any liquid that escapes in the fermentation process. Open the jar and taste the kimchi each day until you get that sweet fermented taste you’re going for – you’ll know it when you find it! Also be sure to push your veggies down below the liquid line each day – as it ferments, more liquid will be available in the jar. You can also put the kimchi into the fridge immediately and eat it raw over the course of a few days – I had a hard time filling my jar due to the multiple people who were eating it before I had a chance to get it into the jar. Be sure to refrigerate your kimchi after the 1 to 3 day fermentation process. Once fermented, kimchi can last in the fridge for a looooooong time – it’s too good to let it last though!