Cabbage Kimchi (Sun-hee version) My Recipes
Without doubt, cabbage kimchi is the most important item in the Korean kitchen. Not only is it an important side dish, accompanying most meals, but essential base in a number of other recipes. Kimchi is a ‘keynote,’ a defining feature of Korean culture and mastering its production will gain you much respect in the eyes of Koreans. There are not only geographical variations on the recipe, but family and personal ones and homemade kimchi is infinitely superior to that bought in supermarkets. This recipe was taught to me by my friend Sun-hui (순희) and it has proved to be a very successful.
Key Features: very healthy / relatively easy to make/ an essential Korean food
MY DEFINITIVE RECIPE
1 cup = 180ml. T=tablespoon (15ml), d=dessert spoon (10ml) t=teaspoon (5ml)
1 large Chinese leaf cabbage (Napa) weighing about about 1.25 kilograms
I cup of mooli (무)
0.5 cup of red pepper powder (고추가루)
2T rice flour
0.25 cup of Fish sauce (액젓) plus more if required
24 cloves of crushed garlic
1. inch piece of fresh root ginger, grated
1cup of chives or wild leek (실파/부추)
0.75 cup of salt (sea salt, kosher, rock, 호렴)
3 cups of water
SUBSTITUTES IF YOU’RE LIVING IN THE UK
Mooli can be substituted with white turnip but I would grate it rather than dice it.
Red pepper powder must be Korean (고추가루) and not chili powder.
Rice flour can be replaced with standard flour and many Koreans use this in Korea.
Fish sauce (액젓) can be either anchovy (멸치) or sand-lance (까나리) but Thai type squid sauces will suffice.
Chives are best but wild leek is better and after these small spring onions without the bulbs.
Salt – sea salt (Maldon) and rough salt such as rock salt or kosher salt are highly important. Table salt is totally ineffective at wilting the cabbage leaves!
A large plastic basin
A plastic Tupperware type container
Possibly a muslin type bag
- If the cabbage is a large one, cut it lengthwise into quarters and wash it. Then chop the cabbage into pieces about 1 wide and a few inches long. Wash the chopped cabbage and drain. Next dice the mooli into small pieces approx an inch square and a quarter of an inch thick and add them to the cabbage. Put the mixture in a large bowl, sprinkle with salt and then and 1.5 cups of water. Fold the mixture, pat down firmly and leave for about 12 hours turning once after six hours or so. 12 hours should ensure the cabbage is fully wilted but often it is ready much earlier than this. You should notice the volume of cabbage reduces by about half as wilting occurs.
PREPARING THE PASTE
When the cabbage is ready, wash it three times in clean water and thoroughly drain. I use a muslin bag for this process so I can squeeze out excess water. This process ensures the paste doesn’t become too watery though some people prefer it such. Set the cabbage aside.
2. Chop the chives into pieces about an inch long
3. Crush the garlic and chop the ginger into small slivers.
4. In a large plastic bowl, put the:
Red pepper powder (0.5 cup)
Chives (1 cup)
0.25 of a cup of fish sauce
5. Mix the flour in a little cold water and then heat a pan containing 1.5 cups of water. Add the flour mixture to this and stir until it is starts to boil. The flour paste needs to be the consistency of porridge so add more flour as required. When ready add this to the ingredients in the large bowl.
6. Mix the ingredients with a spoon and then, when you are not in danger of scalding, with your hands (you might want to wear rubber gloves for this process).
7. Add the cabbage mixture to the paste and thoroughly fold them together.
8. You can now taste the kimchi and if necessary add additional fish sauce to increase the saltiness. I hold back on using 0.5 of a cup to allow me more control over saltiness.
9. Put the kimchi in a Tupperware type container and pack down firmly to remove air pockets.
Kimchi does not need to be fermented and many people prefer kimchi when it is fresh. However, fermentation will begin immediately, indeed it has already begun. It can be kept in part of the fridge where it won’t freeze though you can leave it in room temperature for a few days to speed up fermentation. The lid will pop off the tub every day as gases build up but the smell grows on you!
Kimchi keeps for a very long time and even after a year it has its uses. Personally, I have used kimchi older than a year and have read of people using kimchi that was 3 years of age. My year old kimchi had a small layer of mold on the top but this washed off. Aged kimchi, tart and sour, is a delicious basis for kimchi stew (kimchi jjim – 김치 찜) and far superior to fresh kimchi.
ON GOING NOTES
None! The recipe is perfected!