Elwood 5566

Cabbage Kimchi

Posted in Quintesentially Korean by 노강호 on May 17, 2010

Salted cabbage

You can’t have a blog on Korea without there being a post on Kimchi. Oh, I’m not going to recite a recipe as there are a number of brilliant sites able to do this much better than I. Ten years ago there was nothing on the internet about making kimchi, Korean history, Hanja and so forth but now it all awaits you at the stroke of a key. This week some one asked me if I prefer Korean food or western food? Well, being a fat twat, I like all food. But at this moment a roast dinner consisting roast potatoes, pork with crackling, homemade gravy and garden peas and sprouts would be my choice. Yes, in Korea I miss English food but I only have to be back in the UK a few days to pine for Korean food. Nowadays, I’ve usually prepared a batch of kimchi within a day or two of arriving back home, ready for when I suffer kimchi withdrawal symptoms. Making kimchi in the UK can often be a little problematic so I’ve include some suggestions here should it prove difficult to find quintessentially Korean ingredients.

Moo (무), usually called Mooli. Be prepared to have to buy moo which looks like a big white carrot and is so stale you can bend it in half without it snapping. Tesco’s often sell them. If you can’t buy moo, white turnips are a good substitute.

Thread Onion (실파) – a good substitute is spring onion or better still, chives.

Anchovy fish sauce – (액젓) the Thai version, easily available, is indistinguishable (in my opinion).

Minari  (미나리) – I have read some people use water cress for this but I’ve never tried it. Parsley might also be an option but I’d choose the flat leaf rather than curled. If I cant use minari, and in the UK, I have never been able to buy it though it is probably available in areas with  a Korean population (eg, New Malden), I have simply left it out.

Chinese leaf cabbage (배추) – bought in a place such as Tesco’s are always shit quality. Small, probably four times smaller than an average real cabbage, almost pure white, and around £1 (2000W) each. They are difficult to cut properly and I have often cut them up rather than try to keep them in sections.

MAKING KIMCHI TIPS  (these are my tips recorded for my own benefit. If you want to jump straight to Maangchi’s kimchi making video, providing clear instructions in several different formats, click the photo below.

Maangchi! The Queen of Korean cooking


One sure way to impress both Koreans and wayguks is to be able to say you can make kimchi. No! despite what you have been told, it is not a difficult process. After some trials and experimentation you will find it easy to ‘fine tune’ kimchi to your own particular preferences. There are very many different versions of cabbage kimchi both  in terms of individuals recipes and in the taste of kimchi as it ‘matures.’

The price of seasonal goods in Korea can alter drastically depending on the weather and other factors. Currently Chinese cabbage (배추) is increasing in price due the late start of spring but in December, when I made my last batch, one large cabbage was 1000W (50 pence) and two of these were enough to provide me kimchi for about six weeks. This morning I found it very difficult to but cabbage in the market and when I did find some it was rather manky and expensive. Currently, cabbage is a bout 300% more expensive than in December. Make sure you scrutinize the underlying leaves and beware of  ones which appear eaten as some pest burrow into the cabbage. A tell tale sign are brown smudges on the leaves. If you’re buying cabbages in the west you won’t encounter this problem but the quality will be much poorer.  A cabbage, apart from the outer leaves, should be tight.

Two good size cabbages

Two good size cabbages

Outer leaves removed

Quarter about 2-3 inches into the base and tear apart rather than cleave them into sections

The most boring part is salting between the leaves. I was originally taught to rub the salt into leaves but on several web sites, Maangchi, for example, they leaves are sprinkled. I found this just as effective and much less tiresome.

standing in salt

When the cabbage section are adequately salted, they should be floppy,and in a state where they can be ‘rung’ like a cloth without tearing. They will also have reduced significantly in volume.

Limp and floppy

Other  ingredients include:

Mooli (moo) 무

Minari and thread onion (미나리, 실파)

Rice flour and fish sauce

Ready to be stored

Storage in a Kimchi pot

Or in a 'Tupperware' box

Great links for making Kimchi: Maangchi

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2 Responses

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  1. Maangchi said, on May 17, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    yum! Delicious kimchi! You made it! Congratulations!

    • Nick said, on May 19, 2010 at 1:22 am

      Thanks, I’ve been making kimchi for ten years but never got it as I really wanted it until I followed your method. Actually, I’m going to your site now to make a new batch. By the way, I am going to write about Ot 옷 – or is it 옻 ???. Do you know anything about it. Can’t find anything in English! Thanks


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