Tis the Season for…Kimchi!

Went and picked up some salad vegetables yesterday and found a Napa cabbage. I didn’t really have anything in mind when I picked it up, but I grabbed a Daikon radish and some green onions, thinking perhaps they could be added to some homemade dumplings I had been pondering making….then, when we got home last night Kimchi popped into my head. I have made it once before, but I was the only one who was eating it and I made a massive batch (10 lbs).

I went to an ethnic foods grocery this morning because I had next to no red pepper flakes left (they’re pretty tasty on lots of things). Warning: you need red pepper flakes, not chili flakes. There are no seeds in red pepper flakes (there’s a peek window on the bag so you can see).

The recipe is from Maangchi who is on Youtube and has a food blog – she is so cheery & sweet, I like watching her videos just for fun. I’ve made a couple of her recipes and have loved them, so back to her for the kimchi.

My head of cabbage weighed 2.2 lbs, which, after taking off the outer leaves, worked out to about 2lbs. I admit, I did need to muck around with measurements because I made about 1/5th of Maangchi’s recipe. There is no 1/5 cup measuring cup, just sayin’.

The recipe is:

  • 2 lb Napa cabbage
  • 1/3 cup salt – sea or pickling – a kind with no additives or iodine
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 0.1 cup of rice flour (original recipe used sweet rice flour)
  • 0.1 cup of brown sugar (original recipe used Turbinado sugar)
  • 1 carrot, matchsticked
  • 1/2 Daikon radish, matchsticked – can also use red radish
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 1/2 cup hot pepper flakes
  • 2 tb crushed garlic
  • 2 tb crushed ginger
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1 bunch of green onion, chopped

Cut the root end of the cabbage flush with the leaves. Cut a slit in the root end and pull the cabbage apart, then cut a slit in the root end of each of the two pieces and pull them apart, giving you 4 pieces of cabbage. Rinse all the leaves and shake them off – they do not need to be dry and it is preferable that they aren’t.

Place all the pieces in a bowl and salt each leaf – every single one. This will get the excess water out of the cabbage leaves. Every half hour for 2 hours, flip the pieces around, upside down, right side up. If the water in the bowl is getting deep, spoon it out or drain it.

Once the two hours is up, rinse the cabbage off a couple times to get rid of as much of the salt as possible. I let mine sit in a colander while I got the porridge and the rest of the ingredients together.

Put the water and the rice flour in a small pot and whisk until it starts to boil. Add the sugar and stir til translucent and thickened. Take off the heat & let cool. This is the porridge.

Chop the Daikon and carrot into matchsticks. Chop the green onion into 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces.

Pop the onion, garlic and ginger into a food processor or a blender….or chop it like you mean it with a knife or brave the copious tears from grating an onion.

Once the porridge is cooled, add the onion, garlic & ginger mixture, the red pepper flakes and the fish sauce. Mix really well.

You have two choices at this point. You can leave the cabbage in the 4 pieces or you can chop into bite size pieces. If you leave the cabbage in the four pieces, add the carrots and Daikon to the porridge and smear the resulting mixture in between every piece of cabbage…every single piece, and wear gloves because the pepper flakes are hot.

If you are going to chop the cabbage, which is what I do, chop it, add the carrot, green onion and Daikon to it, mix it then add the porridge and get it everywhere…..no gloves needed, just a spatula or spoon.

I have suffered the skin burn of cutting up hot peppers with no gloves and it hurt a whole lot for about a week, and right now, gloves are sometimes difficult to find. I figured I leave what’s out there for those who really need it.

Once the kimchi is all mixed, pack it down a little in a container, plastic or glass, and either put it into the fridge to keep it fresh, or put it somewhere room temperature to ferment (this is what I’m doing for a couple days – then I will put in the fridge).

Note the words written at the end of the container….It’s a dedicated container because it’s plastic and fermenting kimchi has a smell. 🙂

Maangchi used salted squid and preserved salted shrimp in her kimchi but that’s not something I want to invest in to find out I don’t like it.

Kimchi is pretty forgiving so ingredients can be substituted or left out or added in as per your tastes. If you are hot food sensitive, taste the porridge after adding half the red pepper flakes, then decide whether to add the rest, or more.

Try it, it’s very good.

Keek says no, thank you!

He spends a great deal of time watching the creatures on the lawn and considering it Cat Cable. He, in true cat fashion, completely ignores the two tanks of fish in the living room.

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