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Make Your Own Kimchi

Kylee Newton's book "The Modern Preserver" brings the amazing flavors of dishes you might only eat in a restaurant and makes them accessible right at home. She writes, "Korean-fermented vegetables, known as kimchi, are generally served as an accompaniment to a variety of traditional Korean meat, fish, and vegetable dishes. Like sauerkraut, kimchi is thought to have health-giving properties because of its combination of raw super-food vegetables and the “good” bacteria produced during fermentation. More and more people are experimenting with making kimchi these days and you’re as likely to find it in a street food wrap or a burger as you would served alongside traditional Korean fare."

Kimchi Recipe

  • Makes

    0

  • Meal
    snack, appetizer
  • Prep

    10 minutes
  • Cook

    0 minutes
  • Total

    480 minutes

    Ingredients:

  • 4 cups water
  • 4 tbsp sea salt
  • 1 firm cabbage (napa is traditional)
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 daikon
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2-inch piece fresh ginger
  • 3 shallots
  • 1 tbsp gochugaru powder or
  • cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp sea salt (optional)

Directions:

  • 1. Mix together the water and salt until the salt dissolves.

  • 2. Coarsely chop the cabbage. Peel the carrots and daikon and slice into fine discs using a mandoline, or make 2-inch-long ribbons using a vegetable peeler.

  • 3. Put the vegetables in a large bowl and cover in the salted brine.

  • 4. Soak for 8–24 hours, making sure the vegetables are completely covered with the liquid and put a plate on top of them to weigh the mixture down.

  • 5. Peel and dice the onion, garlic, ginger, and shallots, then put the onion, garlic, and ginger into a food processor or a mortar and pestle and blend/bash into a paste.

  • 6. Put the paste into a bowl and stir through the gochugaru powder and shallots.

  • 7. Drain the vegetables, reserving the brine. Taste the vegetables for saltiness. If they are too salty, rinse them with cold water; if they are not salty enough, mix through some extra sea salt.

  • 8. Combine the vegetables with the paste, mixing them well to ensure that they are evenly coated.

  • 9. Gently squeeze the vegetables with your hands. This bruises the cell walls and helps release their juices.

  • 10. Pack the mixture tightly into the bottom of a 2.5–3 liter glass jar or ceramic pot, gently pushing down with your fist to release more juice until it is submerged in its own liquid.

  • 11. If necessary, add some of the reserved brine just to cover.

  • 12. Scrape down and clean the inside of the jar with a spatula, then weigh the mixture down with a flat plate that fits inside the jar, with a weight on top (like a smaller jar filled with water and sealed).

  • 13. Cover the jar with a muslin square or tea towel so it can breathe, and secure.

  • 14. Leave to ferment in a warm place at around 68–77 degrees. If it’s cooler, then it will just take longer.

  • 15. Check and taste daily, making sure the vegetables are always submerged in the brine.

  • 16. Depending on your taste and the room temperature, this can take around 3–14 days.

  • 17. It’s ready when it tastes sour and tangy.

  • 18. Pack tightly into warm, dry sterilized jars leaving a 1/4 inch gap between the top of the vegetables and the rim and seal.

Cook's Notes: Keeps for up to 6–8 months unopened in a cool, dark cupboard. Once opened, keep in the fridge and eat within 4–6 weeks.

Kimchi can take a few goes to get it right. My tips are:

  • Use sea salt that is unrefined because iodized salt will prevent your vegetables from fermenting.
  • Use a large glass jar with a wide opening or a ceramic fermentation pot, so the high salt content won’t eat away at the vessel.
  • Use a hard cabbage that won’t turn to mush.
  • Go easy on the aromatics such as garlic, onion, and ginger because these flavors increase during fermentation.

Available at Amazon. Excerpted from "The Modern Preserver" by Kylee Newton (Countryman Press 2016).

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