Mmmm. There’s nothing better than homemade kimchi. You won’t believe how easy it is to make!
In my other life (the one before I moved to Manitoulin Island), I used to teach English at Western Town College and then at Pacific Gateway International College in Toronto.
Some of my Korean students taught me how to make homemade kimchi. That was almost twenty years ago, and I have been making it ever since.
My Korean students always told me that kimchi is thought to be a really healthy food in Korea. I’ve also read that kimchi has been recognized as a healthy probiotic food. Kimchi is a good source of useful lactic acid bacteria, which has excellent anti-oxidation.
I have to admit that the very first time I tried kimchi, it took me off guard. I wasn’t expecting the smell to be so…potent! I also didn’t expect it to be so spicy! The flavour grew on me and now I just cannot get enough!
My students have also told me that each Korean family has their own family kimchi recipe. Though I cannot say that this one would rival any Korean grandmother’s kimchi, this is one that my family enjoys.
Homemade Kimchi is not that hard to make
- 1 head of Napa cabbage (5 lbs)
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and julienned
- 1 lb Mu/Korean radish (I can never find it, so I use Daikon), julienned
- 4 scallions, cut into 1 or 2 inch pieces
- 1 cup coarse sea salt
- 5 cups water
- ½ cup Gochugaru (Korean pepper flakes) *Add less if you don't like it too spicy.
- 6 cloves garlic
- 2 Tbsp fish sauce
- 1 Tbsp sesame oil
- 1 Tbsp shrimp paste
- 1 tsp ginger
- 1 tsp sugar
- Trim the core of the Napa cabbage off. Cut your Napa cabbage into quarters lengthwise. Then cut each quarter into bite sized strips (about 2 inches).
- In a large bowl, salt the cabbage, making sure to massage the salt into the cabbage. You will notice that the cabbage will begin to wilt. Add water to cover cabbage and let sit in the brine for 2 hours.
- When the 2 hours are up, rinse the cabbage very well with fresh water. You will have to rinse the cabbage a few times, otherwise it will be too salty. Drain cabbage.
- In a blender, add Gochugaru, garlic, fish sauce, sesame oil, shrimp paste, ginger, sugar and blend into a paste.
- Squeeze away any excess water from cabbage. Into a large bowl, add cabbage, carrot, radish, scallions and paste. Combine well. If you have kitchen gloves, wear them and mix the kimchi by hand, making sure to massage the pepper paste into the veggies.
- Use whatever mason jars you have. I made 1 big jar and 2 smaller jars. Using your (gloved) hand, pack kimchi into jars, leaving 1 inch gap at the top. Cover loosely with lids. Don't seal it just yet because while the kimchi ferments over the next few days, it will produce gases. You don't want a kimchi explosion! If you notice air bubbles, you can press kimchi down with a spoon so that everything is covered in the brine.
- Let kimchi ferment for at least 5 days (if not, more). Technically you *could* eat it immediately, but you really want the kimchi to ferment for a few days to develop its flavour. After opening, place kimchi jar in fridge. This fermented goodness can keep for a long time (several months).
Adjust the amount of Gochugaru (Korean red chili pepper flakes -- it's fine, almost like a coarse powder) to suit your spice tolerance. If you don't like it so spicy, add less than ½ cup of Gochugaru.
You may also enjoy:
- Our favourite Korean Beef Bulgogi recipe
- Several Korean Dishes
Hope you enjoy this homemade kimchi recipe! Let us know if you try it!
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