I’m a huge Kimchi fan. Be it baechu kimchi, kkakdugi, yeolmu kimchi, etc, I simply got to have it at least 3 times a week. Looking at the amount of $$ I’m spending on kimchi, it makes economical sense for me to make it myself, right? After testing a few recipes, I found this to be the most easy-to-make and yummilicious version. The secret step here is making the flour paste. This step is optional but my Korean friend’s mom told me it will bind the spices and absorbs better into the cabbage. Adjust the level of spiciness according to your taste bud.
1 large napa cabbage or “wong bok” (mine is about 2 pounds / 500g)
1 large carrot
1 stalk leek
6 stalks green onions
4 tbsp salt
1 cup water
3 tbsp rice flour or cake flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 knob ginger
1/2 yellow onion
10 cloves garlic – peeled
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/2 cup Korean red pepper powder (depending on your tolerance / taste. Mine is low:-))
Salty shrimp paste (optional)
Recipe source: Korean Bapsang and Maangchi
Cut the cabbage lengthwise. Chop it up into bite size pieces.
Rinse the pieces of cabbage in cold water and put them into a large plastic basin or bowl.
Sprinkle salt and gently toss them around to ensure each piece is well coated. Every 30 minutes, turn the cabbage over to salt.
Repeat twice. 1.5 hours later, rinse the cabbage in cold water for 3 times to wash off the salt. Taste a small piece of the cabbage. It should be salty but not overly. Drain the cabbage and set aside.
Boil the water in a small saucepan and add in flour. Once it comes to a bubble, add in the sugar to melt. The texture should be thick, smooth and shiny. Set it aside to cool. (This step is optional if you do not have the type of flour required. Instead, just boil 1/2 cup water and melt the sugar and set aside).
In a food processor, add in the fish sauce, garlic, ginger and onion. Blend till smooth. If you do not have a food processor, use a blender.
Place the cooled flour paste into a large bowl. Add the blended mixture, hot pepper flakes and salty shrimp. Mix well.
Peel the radish and carrot and julienne (slice thinly). Cut the leeks and green onions into small pieces.
Put all the vegetables in a large bowl. Add in the paste and stir well. Your kimchi paste is done!
It is time to get some arm workout. Add the kimchi paste (few spoons at a time) to the cabbage and mix, mix, mix! Do it by batches if necessary. To protect your hands from burning & staining (red pepper powder is the major culprit), wear a pair of plastic or rubber gloves.
Put the kimchi into an air-tight sealed plastic container (BPA free) or glass jar. Press down to make sure no air is trapped in between the cabbage. Leave it outside for a day or two to ferment before putting it into the fridge. I can’t resist the wait so I’m taking out a tiny batch to sample.
One or two days later, open the lid of the Kimchi container. You may see some bubbles with liquid, and a sour smell. That means it’s already being fermented. Put the container of Kimchi in the fridge for future use.