Kimchi is a fermented Korean cabbage dish that packs a fiery punch and it is far more delicious than its name suggests.
About this Recipe
By: Tom Areundel
Unknown a few years ago, kimchi (also spelt “kimchee”) was little known over here but as Korean food has become more known it has appeared on more menus including Wagamamas which offers a somewhat insipid version!
2 heads of Napa Cabbage
1/2 cup salt (preferably sea salt)
3 tbsp white flour
60ml (1/4 cup) Gochujang (Korean chilli bean paste – Sainsbury’s sell it as do most Oriental supermarkets)
2 tbsp sugar
3/4 cup Korean chilli flakes (Oriental supermarket or online in bulk)
9-12 garlic cloves
Thumb length of unpeeled fresh ginger
2 tbsp fish sauce
There are several versions of this recipe (more complex which includes preserved fish, carrots and spring onions) that can easily be found online which, if you are a Kimchi fan and have mastered this basic recipe, are well worth checking out. Kimchi made with Chinese leaf cabbage is also not the only kimchi – there are plenty of others – even though it is the most common. Check these out too if you become a kimchi junky.
It is the de facto national dish of South Korea and is served at most meals and most times of the day. Fermented foods are becoming very popular as the live probiotics in these foods are thought to be highly beneficial for our microbiome (our gut bacteria).
Step by Step Instructions
Cut the cabbage into quarters length-wise. Some recipes recommend you cut through the base with a knife or shears and then pull the top bit apart to stem the flow of juices but I have not found that this makes a difference. This should give you 8 quarters.
Working with one section of cabbage at a time lightly sprinkle the salt between the leaves, starting on the outside and moving in. The stem needs a heavier dose.
Once done line a large baking dish, preferably porcelain, with the cabbage quarters (arranged head to toe fits better) then weight down with a board / lid and a 2kg (min) weight.
Let this rest for 30 mins, remove the weight, turn the quarters over, and weight down again for another 30 mins.
While you are waiting for the cabbage make the sauce: bring the water to a boil and add the flour, whisking in.
Once dissolved turn off the heat and add the gochujang, chilli flakes and sugar.
Put the garlic and ginger in a food processor and add the fish sauce and also the water, flour, chilli mixture.
Squeeze out the moisture from the cabbage (if any) and start massaging the chilli sauce into the cabbage leaves. Start conservatively and add more if you have some left over but the leaves should be fully coated in the sauce.
Once all leaves are fully doused in sauce add some clingfilm on top of the leaves leaving some holes for air on the side.
Weigh down with the board / lid and weight once more and cover with an old tea towel (it will get stained from the red sauce!)
Leave in a coolish, dark place for 5 days after which time it should be ready.
You can cut pieces off as it is strong but I tend to go through a quarter in a single sitting! Stored in a Kilner jar this will keep for at least 6 weeks, sometimes much longer.