Nostalgic story about kimchi here. Okay, all done. Not much to say about kimchi. My SEO plugin is going to give me a big fat red for nope. Here’s the thing: I love kimchi and that’s all I got to say about that.
I forgot to take a picture of an onion and some ginger but these are about all the ingredients you need. Red pepper powder, Korean fine sea salt, three crab fish sauce, salted baby shrimp, 1 red jalapeno. Also, napa cabbage. Didn’t take a picture of uncut napa either. I’m going to do so well at this blogging thing.
There are lots of different kinds of kimchi and this one is called Mak Kimchi but in my house we just call this kimchi.
You can cut all the way through. But then you’re going to miss out on the little intact inner leaves, which are my favorite. Stick your knife in through the top and cut into napa about 2 inches, not so much more.
Grab each piece with a hand each and pull apart all the way down. Repeat again with each half so you have quarters.
Cut the core off at an angle and then cut into pieces. I like to separate the layers of leaves because they’re not lined up on either side and if you cut through all the layers with the same width you’re going to end up with mismatching pieces. Also, tender intact inner leaves! The best.
Let’s talk about fish sauce for a second. They’re are not all created equal. I like the middle one best because it’s the easier to find and most versatile. We’re going to use the Three Crab brand for this recipe. If you want to use the Korean one, keep in mind it is way saltier than three crab and adjust accordingly. (update: the Korean one produces tastier kimchi)
I like to heat up the salted shrimp and fish sauce just barely (that’s when the edges get bubbly like so) and then turn the heat off. The bit of heat takes the fishy edge off.
Rice porridge thing for the kimchi base. You can leave this out if you prefer. BUT if there are no dietary restrictions and you are totally fine with a tiny teeny bit of rice, GO FOR IT. It definitely adds a little extra something nice.
If I can do it with my immersion blender, I will. I hate using blenders, big clunky things, in my tiny kitchen. I do have a Vitamix but I am not sticking fishy stuff in there.
Here’s a nice little timeline in pictures of what happens to salted napa cabbage. The middle picture is after tossing in the salt water for only a few minutes. That salt is some strong stuff! Last picture is after a few hours.
This is indispensable (if you have a place to store it) in making large amounts of kimchi. I got it at a Korean Wholesale Grocer but I’m pretty sure they sell it at Korean Home Good type places or even a big Korean Market. The giant bowl is 22″ diameter and the coordinating colander is 21″.
Haha, his face says “nope.”
I don’t mess around with the kimchi making. That giant container is a kimchi container. Also sold in Korean markets. It fits about 2 gallons of kimchi.
After 48 hours of sitting out in cool dark place. On the left you’ll see more liquid has come out and the kimchi is floating on top. I like to push it down (gently!) so the kimchi is under all the juice before storing in fridge.
Also, since I made such a large amount, I’ll store a few days worth in a smaller airtight glass container so I don’t mess with the big container too much because 1. That big thing is heavy but more importantly 2. if you keep taking the kimchi in and out of the fridge it’s going to ferment faster and faster and that’s not ideal. Kimchi has a sweet spot. It’s always fermenting so that refreshing just sour enough flavor is not going to last long. Hence, the 48 hours of sitting out. In my experience, that is the just-sour-enough-sweet-spot.
BUT, after the sweet spot is gone and the kimchi is mouth-puckering sour, it’s time to start cooking with it! Another awesome thing about kimchi! And, please keep in mind, cooking dishes with kimchi is best with this stage of kimchi, not before. Like kimchi mandoo, kimchi pancake, kimchi stew, kimchi stir-fry, etc. As soon as my kimchi gets to that stage, you can be sure I’ll be making all of that and more! Oh, so many exclamation marks! Kimchi is the best!
Here’s a story: I love kimchi so much and I am so hardcore, I used to take kimchi to work (an office type setting in LA with non-koreans, so you get the picture) and a microwaveable bowl with a matching lid and I would microwave the kimchi for lunch to eat with my rice. Have you microwaved kimchi? It is STINKY.
I doubled the recipe. So you will not get the same amount as you see in the pictures. You’ll end up with a little over 2 gallons of kimchi.
You will need either 1 kimchi container or 2 wide mouth gallon jars + another smaller container or any large airtight food-safe vessel that fit about 3 gallons.
You can use less pepper powder if you want it less spicy. You can always add more pepper powder to adjust. That picture is pretty accurate of the kimchi. It is a very saucy kimchi with lots of spice.
You are going to need a giant bowl to make all this kimchi. You can try dividing it to fit into whatever bowls you have but that sounds like a royal PITA and really, kimchi does not need to get more PITA. I would recommend making less kimchi if you do not have a giant bowl.
When you are serving the kimchi always use a clean utensil to transfer kimchi from main container to smaller serving bowl. It is very important not to cross-contaminate kimchi! Pat down the kimchi in an even layer before putting back into fridge.
If you are storing it in a kimchi container like me, move about a few days worth into a smaller airtight container.Kimchi
Makes so many servings. Takes about half a day, but actual active time about 1 hour.
- 4 napa cabbages about 20 pounds
- 2.5 cups fine sea salt + 8 cups water
- 2 T. sticky white rice + 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup salted shrimp
- 1/2 cup fish sauce
- 28 – 30 cloves garlic (about 3 bulbs)
- 1/2 onion
- 1 red pepper, chopped into quarters
- 1 inch ginger, peeled and chopped in quarters
- 2 cups pepper powder (I used 2.5 cups)
- 1 cup water
- 1 pair latex/vinyl gloves OR clean dishwashing gloves
Peel off any outer leaves that look damaged and/or tough. Quarter each cabbage: Place knife into core and cut down in a see saw motion, don’t go more than a couple inches down, then pull apart cabbage halves with your hands and repeat with each half to end up with quarters. Lay each quarter down with the outer part of cabbage on the board. Cut off core at an angle. Separate the leaves into thirds. The first few baby leaves don’t need to be cut. Cut the second layer into 1 1/2″ wide pieces. And the third layer into 1 1/2″ pieces also. Place into giant bowl. Repeat until done.
Mix the 2.5 cups salt with 8 cups water in another big bowl and pour over the chopped napa cabbage. Scrape out whatever salt is leftover with some of the cabbage. Toss well with hands to make sure salt water is evenly distributed. Let sit for about 4 hours. At the 2 hour mark, you want to mix the cabbage so the top level is under the surface. Basically, grab a section of the top layer of napa and push it under the lower layer of napa. Repeat until you’ve gone around the whole bowl. So now the lower layer is on top and the top layer is on the bottom.
Make the base:
Meanwhile, make the sauce base. Place 2 T of rice with 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to boil, then lower heat to a simmer. Let it simmer for 20 minutes. Mix around and set aside.
Add salted shrimp and fish sauce in another saucepan and place over high heat. Watch the pot! As soon as the edges start bubbling take it off the heat immediately. This doesn’t take long, maybe a couple minutes. Set aside.
Add rice, shrimp and fish sauce, garlic cloves, onion, red pepper, and 1/2 cup water in a blender (or use your immersion blender) and blend until smooth. Pour it out into a medium sized bowl, add the red pepper powder and the remaining water. Mix well.
Mix the kimchi:
The cabbage should be ready at 4 hours. You can tell by bending one of the stem pieces. If it is easily bendable without breaking then it is ready.
Grab handfuls of the cabbage and place into clean sink with the drain hole closed. Pour out the salt water in the giant bowl and give it a quick rinse with clean cold water (hopefully you have a double bowl sink, otherwise don’t close the drain hole, dump it all in the sink, then close the drain hole and proceed). Fill the sink that has the cabbage in it with cold water. Swish it around with your hands then grab handfuls again and move back into the now clean empty giant bowl. I like to use a sieve to pick up all the little cabbage leaves. Dump out, fill with clean water, swish around once more. Before moving to bowl, place the colander into the giant bowl then move the cabbage over. There will be a lot of liquid left in the bowl under the colander. Throw out that liquid and move the cabbage from the colander into the now empty giant bowl. (This all just sounds more complicated than it really is. It’s just a series of steps to be organized and keep from losing your mind trying to make a shit ton of kimchi in a small residential kitchen).
Now put on some gloves. You do not want to do this with your bare hands!! Add the sauce base to the cabbage and mix around until each leaf is coated with the sauce. Place into container for storage. When you’re placing the kimchi into the container do it handfuls at a time, smoothing and patting down each handful into an even layer. You don’t want to just dump it all in and have empty pockets in the container. If you are using a kimchi container, place all of the kimchi as instructed and at the end press down firmly with your hand. If you are using other containers, follow instructions and leave at leave about 4 inches of room at the top. Clean containers mouth with damp paper towel and close the lid. Place in a cool dark place for 48 hours. Once this is up, press down kimchi again and store in fridge. You can start eating it right away or wait one more day for the kimchi to get nice and cold.
Whew. All done. Now you may enjoy the fruits of your labor for weeks maybe months!