How to Make Kimchi
Kimchi is a Korean pickled dish made of vegetables. It's absolutely delicious and goes with almost every meal. Aunt Elise, maman's sister visiting from Vietnam, taught me how to make a simple version of kimchi. It doesn't have the red color traditionally associated with kimchi, but there are actually several varieties, like this one, that have little or no red chili. What can I say, I'm kind of a wimp when it comes to spicy food.
We only used Napa cabbage, very simple seasoning and a good bit patience. It takes a few days for the cabbage to ferment, and then it's ready to enjoy.
You usually eat kimchi as a condiment with another dish, and my favorite "partner" is Cơm Gà Siu Siu. It's boiled chicken in a caramelized-onion broth. Serve the pieces of chicken with jasmine rice (cooked in the same chicken broth as well, I'll post the recipe soon), nước mắm (fish sauce in Vietnamese) and kimchi on the side. Lulu, on the other hand, just likes eating it by itself. However you decide to use it, homemade kimchi is definitely worth the effort.
Yields: about a 2-quart jar1 Napa cabbage
1 white onion (milder in flavor), sliced
1 (1-inch) chunk fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
1 lemon, sliced
2 quarts water
1/2 cup sea salt (or Kosher salt)
1/2 cup rice vinegar (or regular white vinegar)
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons sesame oil (optional)
Prepping the lemon: Cut the lemon in half. Juice one half and slice the rest.
Prepping the cabbage: Separate all the leaves from the root; which is fibrous and tough to eat.
Wash the cabbage thoroughly under cold running tap water. Place all the leaves in a large bowl, sprinkle with 1/4 cup of salt and cover with water and the lemon juice. Soak for about 30 minutes. Rinse and cut each leaf in half, lengthwise. Cut each piece in thirds.
Seasoning the pickles: In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup of salt, 1 tablespoon of sugar, red chili flakes, rice vinegar and sesame oil. Whisk well. Adjust seasoning; you can add up to 1-½ tablespoons of sugar all together depending on the acidity of the vinegar. Add 2 quart of water. Stir well.
In another bowl, combine the onion, ginger and lemon slices. Toss well.
Stack and tightly pack the cabbage leaves, alternating with lemon, onion and ginger slices in a clean large crock or a glass jar. Using a funnel, cover the leaves with the pickling brine. Weight the vegetable down using a heavy small plate. Cap the jar and allow to rest for 3-4 days at room temperature.
Check the kimchi after 3 days. If you see bubbles, it should be ready. It's essential that once you achieve the desired amount of fermentation, you store the kimchi in the refrigerator. You can store the pickles up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
Enjoy and check out my scrambled egg tofu with kimchi!
I buy this particular cabbage in a Korean store. Pick a fairly large-sized one, a little more than 2 pounds. Using this same method, you also can pickle Chinese cabbage or other vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, carrots or cucumbers.
The fermenting period varies with the temperature of the room. We waited 5 days until the kimchi tasted absolutely right but I placed the jar in the basement of the house. Make sure that the temperature doesn't exceed 68°F (20°C) though.
You can add any other flavoring you like such as toasted sesame seeds, sliced apple, any citrus, green onions, other herbs or super fiery chiles / chile paste. I don't eat a lot of spicy food so I passed this option.
Aunt Elise's secret to recover from a cold: Drink kimchi juice; it will clear your sinuses [she says]. Even though I've been feeling terribly sick in the last few days, believe me, I haven't dared to try this yet...Published By: on January 13, 2010.