I’ve been talking a lot about fancy salts and how to use them in preserving this week. On Tuesday, I shared a recipe for a quick, spicy cucumber pickle (which I’ve been eating non-stop on salads for the last couple days. It’s intensely garlicky and I love it). Today, we’re using some of that gorgeous salt in a batch of kimchi.
I came relatively late to the world of kimchi. I’d eat it when at a Korean restaurant, but it wasn’t really something I started seeking out until a couple years ago. At first, I satisfied my kimchi craving by buying packets of the stuff from the Trader Joe’s refrigerator case, but soon found myself going through two or three a week. It was time to start making it myself.
I will be the first to say that my technique isn’t the most authentic on the planet. I don’t use rice flour (because I’m lazy and don’t want to add another thing to my pantry) and I pretty much toss whatever vegetables in that I have (there are red radishes in this batch because I had some and wanted to use them up).
I also pack my shredded and seasoned veg into a half gallon jar and let it do its fermenty thing, without airlocks or any kind of weight. I just press it down with a clean hand once a day and keep an eye out for any sort of surface funk.
This batch is a combination of shredded napa cabbage, grated carrot and daikon radish, shaved red radish bits, the tops of spring onions, ginger, garlic, grey sea salt, and gochugaru (that’s the Korean red chili powder and this is the only special ingredient I keep around specifically for kimchi making. It’s just not the same without it). Essentially, I combine all the ingredients, knead them together with with clean hands, pack the whole mess into a jar, and let it sit for a while.
For those of you who aren’t regular kimchi eaters, let’s talk about to use this spicy, tangy fermented pickle. I scoop a couple forkfuls onto nearly every salad I make. It’s good stirred into soups (carrot or lentil are particularly good vehicles). And it’s miraculous gently warmed and eaten with scrambled eggs (Alana taught me that trick).
How do you eat your kimchi?
PS – For a more authentic recipe, along with everything you want to know about the world of fermenting, I highly suggest you visit my friend Amanda’s blog, Phickle. She’s incredibly knowledgeable and her site is a fantastic resource.
- 1 head napa cabbage, cored and sliced
- 1 medium daikon radish, grated
- 1 large carrot, grated
- 8-10 red radishes, grated or julienned
- 5-6 green onions, chopped
- 4-5 garlic cloves, pressed
- 2 tablespoons grated ginger
- 1 1/2 tablespoons grey sea salt
- 1 tablespoon gochugaru (Korean red chili powder)
- Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and combine well using your hands. Really squeeze and knead it, until the salt starts to dissolve and the vegetables begin to release some liquid.
- Pack the vegetables into a large jar, really pressing them down well.
- Loosely cap the jar (I use one of the white storage caps from Ball) and place the jar on a small plate or saucer (to catch any leaks).
- Let the jar sit at room temperature for three or four days, until the kimchi tastes good to you.
- When you like the flavor, pop the jar into the fridge and enjoy!