It wouldn’t be Quick Pickling and Preserving Week on Betty Eatz without kimchi. Are you are looking for a spicy, salty, and funky side dish? Then read on.
What is Kimchi
Kimchi is a Korean side dish. It is pickled and fermented vegetables and served as a side dish, also called banchan, at a meal. The main ingredient can include cubed white radish, cucumber, and ponytail radish, among others.
The most well-known type is made from cabbage and is the one my mom always made when I was growing up. Called baechu kimchi, this version includes napa cabbage, daikon radish, green onions, and carrots. The cabbage is salted and combined with the other veggies, then it is rubbed with a spice paste.
Afterwards, it’s fermented!
Many cultures eat fermented foods. Kefir, miso, sauerkraut, and even sourdough are some examples of foods from around the globe. Fermentation is a way to preserve food and has been around for centuries.
Probiotics or “good” bacteria are found in some fermented foods and may provide health benefits. People claim that fermented foods are important for gut health and overall gastrointestinal support. However, science sometimes agrees and sometimes it disagrees.
Regardless, fermented foods are delicious and add a unique zesty goodness to whatever you are eating. These foods have a certain aroma, appearance, and taste thanks to the microbial growth that happens during fermentation.
There is an important ingredient in making cabbage kimchi: gochugaru.
Gochugaru is Korean red pepper chili powder or flakes. It is instantly recognizable for its bright red color. I once owned a pair of pants this color and yes, I was instantly recognizable, too.
This type of dried chili is different from others because it is made from the Korean red pepper called taeyang-cho.
The dried spice is used in kimchi, soups, stews, marinades, and gochujang (chili paste). It’s an important component in Korean cooking. Gochugaru’s heat intensity ranges from mild to burn-your-hair-off hot.
- You can adjust the heat of the kimchi. Use just 1 or 2 tablespoons of red pepper flakes if you want milder kimchi. Add 4 or 5 tablespoons if you like it hot.
- This entire recipe will fit into a 1-quart jar, believe it or not! The veggies soften as you work the paste into them. As a result, they can be pressed down into the jar.
- Gas and brine will overflow! Keep small children and smell-sensitive husbands away when you open the jar after fermentation.
- 2 lb napa cabbage
- ½ cup kosher salt
- 8 oz daikon radish
- 1 medium carrot
- 4 green onions
- 1 Tbsp minced garlic
- 1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
- 1 tsp granulated sugar
- 2 Tbsp fish sauce
- 3 Tbsp gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes)
- Chop the cabbage lengthwise in half. Then, cut the halves lengthwise in half. Now, cut the 4 quarters crosswise into 2-inch wide sections. Discard the stem and cores.
- Toss the cabbage and salt together in a large bowl. Add water until it covers the cabbage. Place a plate on top to help keep the cabbage submerged and let it sit for 2 hours.
- Transfer the cabbage to a colander and rinse well. Let it drain for 15 minutes.
- Peel the radish and cut it into matchsticks. Do the same with the carrot. Trim the ends from the green onions and cut them into 1-inch sections. Set aside.
- Combine the garlic, ginger, sugar, fish sauce, and gochugaru in a large bowl. Mix to form a paste.
- Squeeze the cabbage to release any water. Add it to the bowl that contains the paste.
- Put on some disposable food prep gloves. You will thank me later.
- Gently mix the cabbage with the spice paste using your hands. Once the paste is evenly distributed, add the radish, carrot, and green onions. Continue to mix and squeeze slightly until the paste is thoroughly incorporated with the veggies.
- Transfer the kimchi to a clean, 1-quart mason jar. A wide-mouth jar will make things easier. As you add kimchi to the jar, press it down to compress the veggies and release the liquid.
- Continue adding all the veggies until the jar is packed. Press them down one more time so that the liquid brine covers everything. Allow for 1 inch of clearance at the top before sealing the jar.
- Let the jar stand in a cool, dark place at room temperature to ferment for 1 to 2 days. Open the jar daily to “burp” it and let some fermentation gases out. Place the jar in the sink when opening just in case juices overflow because they most likely will.
- Once the 1 to 2 days are up, store the jar in the refrigerator and eat within 3 months.