How To Make Kimchi

In Side Dish, The Basics by Tina4 Comments

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.