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There are literally endless veggie combinations for Kimchi. Once you’ve mastered this delicious fermented dish you can experiment and try new options.
Kimchi traditionally is made with Napa cabbage, carrots, Daikon radishes, green onions, hot peppers, garlic, ginger and salt. Some additional ingredients you can add are red pepper, red radish, fish sauce, fish flakes, chill flakes, sugar or other kinds of cabbage.
There are two methods used. One you brine the cabbage in warm salt water, strain and then add the rest of your ingredients. The other takes some elbow grease and love. You need to manually massage the ingredients with salt until they are juicy and wilted. Using this method tastes much better in my opinion, it’s much less salty.
Sauerkraut is made using the same method but it takes a longer time to ferment.
- 1 head Napa Cabbage – shredded (keep the core if your don’t have a crock)
- 3 carrots – grated
- 1 large Dikon Radish – grated
- 6 green onions – finely chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic – finely chopped
- 2 hot red peppers – finely chopped (optional)
- 4 Tbsp of grated fresh ginger
- 1½ – 2 Tbsp coarse sea salt
- food processor (or box grater)
- cutting board
- large mixing bowl
- gloves (if you have sensitive skin)
- fermenting crock or two large Mason jars with lids
- Shred cabbage in a food processor ensuring your cabbage is chopped evenly, with all pieces about the same size. Place in a very large bowl. If you don’t have a food processor, you can chop by hand, just try and get the cuts thin and consistent.
- Switch blades of the food processor and grate the carrots and the Daikon radish. There is no need to peel these vegetables in advance. Add to the same bowl with the cabbage. Again if you are not using a food processor, you can use a box grater.
- Add 1½ Tbsp of coarse sea salt. I find coarse salt works best to break down the fiber structure of the vegetables. It will eventually dissolve so don’t worry about big chunks of salt.
- With your hands, massage the cabbage, carrot and radish. This is going to take a while, but it’s worth it. Massage for at least 10 minutes, until there is a large amount of water in the bottom of the bowl. If there is not enough liquid being released, add the other ½ Tbsp of salt and massage for another 5 minutes.
- Once the massaged mixture is all nice and juicy you can finely chop the garlic, ginger and hot peppers. This allows the cabbage mix to rest and perhaps more liquid will be released before you add the hot stuff.
- Add the garlic, ginger and hot peppers to the mix and massage for an additional minute or two. When adding hot peppers or extra garlic and ginger, you might want to wear the gloves, especially if you have sensitive skin.
- Take your glorious mixture and put it in your fermenting crock. Put the weights on the mixture and be sure that the juice is covering the vegetables. If you don’t have a crock, there are Mason jar options. Divide the Kimchi between the two mason jars, making sure the liquid is covering the vegetables. You can use the core of the cabbage to weigh the veggies down. I’ve seen people use shot glasses and tea saucers as weights to hold the vegetables below the surface of marinate. If you can’t get the vegetables fully submerged, you can add a small amount of pure water just to cover. Place the lid of the jars on tight and place a plate underneath as some liquid may seep out.
- Wait……. leave the Kimchi in a dark, warm place (on top of fridge is where mine lives) for a minimum of 5 days. You can open it and taste at this point. If it isn’t to your funky taste yet, leave it for a few more days.
- When it tastes right remove from crock and store in a mason jar. If it is already in a mason jar, wash the outside of the jar as it may be sticky.
Store in the refrigerator. It should keep for up to 3 months.
I add black sesame seeds to mine when serving for extra goodness!
My wonderful fermenting crock was made by Patrick Yeung in Toronto. www.patrickyeungceramics.com