With so many Korean restaurants opening, the popularity of Kpop and Korean dramas, the majority of American’s are becoming more familiar with Korean cuisine. And there is no other food that says Korea, like Kimchi. There are many types of kimchi, from cabbage or radish, to green onion. All are amazing and full of healthy gut supporting probiotics. Kimchi is served with every meal in a Korean household and if you have not had the good fortune to try it out, you are missing out! Kimchi is a fermented spicy and tangy explosion of smell and flavor.
Cabbage kimchi is made with Napa cabbage. This can be found in just about any grocery store for around $1.49 per pound. When we go to our Korean grocery store (HMart in Michigan) it runs us about $.69 per pound unless we buy it by the box because 48lbs is $25. Two 1 gallon jars of kimchi cost around $24. We can make 4 gallons with the box above. The recipe I will give will be for 3 heads of napa cabbage which will make about a gallon.
There are two ingredients that are not typically in our cupboards that are vital to making kimchi. The first one is anchovy sauce or shrimp sauce which is known in Korea as “eggk-chut”. Any brand will work but be aware most brands contain MSG so read the label. The one by CJ cheiljedang, pictured below, does not.
The second item is red pepper powder or “goet-chu garu”. Make sure this is coarse powder and not fine powder, especially since they are both called powders. They are used for different purposes. Usually a picture of kimchi on the front is a safe bet. IF you are looking for some extra points with the store owner use the Korean pronunciation! Sometimes they will even reward your use of Korean words with a free package of Kimbab (Korean style sushi) if you are in a small auntie (ahjuma) store.
I’m just throwing all kinds of Korean at you!! Back to making Kimchi!
Other items you will need to have available is fresh garlic, preferably processed into a paste. (Minced works, but needs to be drained of the water), sea salt, sugar, and either green onion or onions, and fresh grated ginger. You may want some food prep gloves and glass jars. Now onto the recipe and the process!!
- 2 Tbsp salt
- 1/2 cup Garlic
- 1 Tbsp grated ginger
- 4 Tbsp Sugar
- 6 Green onions chopped or 1 sliced onion
- ⅔ cup Fish sauce
- 1 cup Red pepper flakes
First remove any yellowed or bad leaves then cut up Napa cabbage.
Once cut up. it is time to wash the cabbage and salt it. Because we make such large amounts, we bleach our kitchen sink and use it as a wash tub. a colander will work just fine! When you salt it, you will use 1 Tbsp per layer. A head of cabbage will make about two layers.
At this point the cabbage sits for about 2-4 hours collecting beneficial bacteria. So sit and read a book…..or clean the house.
Have several hours passed??????? Ok then, it is now time to add all the other ingredients and mix the cabbage. As you mix you are also massaging the cabbage somewhat. You want to really incorprate the ingredients and make sure they are evenly distributed. This is best done with your hands, so plastic food prepping gloves are important, my sister-in-law just uses her hands. She is brave, as you can continue to burn sensitive mucous membranes and eyes for a while after you finish even after washing.
Once it is fully incorporated your kimchi will look like the video below.
It is now ready to be put up for storage and further fermentation!
If you only have an American fridge to store the kimchi you made, the kimchi will keep for about a month before it is time for different uses. It tends to sour after that time. It is still safe to eat, it just looses some of the delicious qualities. In a Korean kimchi refrigerator it can keep as long as 3-4 months. I was fortunate enough to get one used for $600 and it had only been used for a week, Score!!!! The upright variety usually sell new for $3900. If you find you are making a lot of kimchi or fermented food, watch out for one of these!!
Happy KIMCHI making!!!