Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Making Kimchi (Korean Sauerkraut)

Like I stated in a previous post, I've been fermenting like crazy lately. I don't know why I didn't try it earlier. It's so easy, and soooo good for you! Unfortunately I haven't had time to post anything about it yet. So I felt really bad when my  husband looked at me with a pouty face last night and said "How come your kimchi hasn't made it onto your blog yet?" So I said, "It's not like you ever read my blog!" He says, "You don't know that!" So here we go, let's see if he reads it and notices the kimchi =) Hubbie was Seabee in the Navy when we met. Before we met, he was in Korea for 7 months. In Korea they serve kimchi with everything, so he has a great love for kimchi. I've looked at it in the store and thought anyone would be crazy to actually eat that stuff, seriously looked gross to me. I would occasionally (ok, maybe it was only twice in the ten years we've been married) buy some kimchi for him but I refused to try it. I come to find out that most traditional kimchi is made with fish sauce, shrimp, or squid, none of which I care to eat. So when I started on this fermenting kick a few months ago, I saw a recipe in Sally Fallon's "Nourishing Traditions" for kimchi. There wasn't anything fishy in it so I thought I would give it a try for my awesome husband. Though, I find nothing wrong with the recipe, he says it is NOTHING like anything he ever had in Korea. To be fair, he says it's super yummy, just not kimchi. So after doing some research into what makes "real" kimchi, I found that kimchi is a regional thing in Korea. It's made different depending on where you are in Korea and what you can find locally. So I'm thinking, "Great, how the heck am I supposed to make a kimchi he'll like when it's different all over the country!?!?" Well, I lucked out and found a Korean ladies website ( and I veganized her kimchi recipe and tweaked it and hubby loved it!!! He said it wasn't "exactly" right due to the lack of fish sauce (bleh) but he was totally ok with that because he hates fish sauce (go figure how he ate so much kimchi in Korea, if he hates fish sauce???). I put fish sauce in a Thai Coconut Soup once and he almost vomited due to the fishy taste (it seriously wasn't that bad, he's just dramatic...haha let's see if he's reading this). But, as a huge pat on my back, he said (regarding my kimchi) "I would be happy never having any other kimchi ever again as long as I can have this one!" =) I agree that it's really yummy. But it is strong and spicy. For the sake of co-workers, never eat before going into a meeting and for the sake of your spouse, never eat before bed!

This picture is my current batch that has only fermented for a day. It will get darker as it ferments longer.
Vegan Kimchi
This recipe calls for 8-10 pounds of Napa cabbage. This makes about a gallon of kimchi. The first time I made it I used one large Napa cabbage which was about 4 or 5 lbs and it made a half gallon. So you can cut this recipe in half or whatever and it still works great! Organic ingredients are always recommended.

10 lbs Napa Cabbage (give or take a lb or 2)
1 Daikon Radish, peal and julienne
1 bunch green onions, diced
1 cup diced onion
2 tb minced ginger
1 head of garlic (not one clove, on entire head, peal all cloves)
3 tb crushed red pepper flakes (you can use less to make less spicy, or use more for super spicy)
3 cups filtered water
1/2 cup white rice flour
1 cup salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup Braggs Liquid Aminos or organic soy sauce

Start by cutting up your cabbage. Cut off an inch or two on the core end and then slice length-wise into eighths (cut into quarters first and then cut each quarter in half). Slice into bite size pieces. Put all your cut up cabbage in a big basin or very large bowl, cover with cold water and soak for a few minutes. Drain. Toss with the 1 cup of salt. Let it sit for 90 minutes, tossing every 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make a porridge to make your kimchi paste. Bring the 3 cups of water and 1/2 cup rice flour, well blended, to a light boil, just seeing bubbles rise, stirring often. Add 1/4 cup sugar and cook for another 5 minutes or so, until translucent. Set aside and let cool completely.

Once your porridge is cooled, place in a food processor the ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes, Braggs or soy sauce, and diced onion. Process and then mix into porridge in a big bowl. Toss in your daikon radish and green onions. Mix well and your kimchi paste is done.

Once your cabbage is done with the 90 minutes of salting, rinse 3 times to remove the salt.

Toss the cabbage with the kimchi paste and pack into glass jars pushing down with a wooden dowel or a rubber spatula to release any air and bring the liquid to the top. Leave atleast an inch head space, 2 inches would probably be better, it expands a lot. Place the lid on tightly and leave sitting at room temperature for 3 days. After the 3 days place in the refrigerator.

This is a time consuming recipe, but the actual hands on time really isn't that bad. Serve as a side dish or a small snack. I like to open the fridge and take a bite and then walk away, often =)


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