There is nothing like the kick that you get from a good mouthful of kimchi first thing in the morning. It is the mother of all wake up calls. But unless you happen to have a Korean chef living in the kitchen, or live above a Korean restaurant you are going to have to make it yourself.
I have had several goes at making kimchi with varying success. I trawled the internet for recipes but I struggled to get the balance right. Some were too spicy, some not spicey enough. Some seemed like a vegetable explosion with a shopping list as long as my arm. Some looked rather sparse.
Then I went on a little cookery books shopping spree and one of my purchases was this
And there on page 98 was Kimchi nirvana. Just the right mix of vegetables and just the right balance of spice.
Here it is, with thanks to Jordan Bourke and Rejina Pyo Classic Cabbage Kimchi (baechu kimchi)
- 1 large airtight sterilised jar with lid
- I large Chinese cabbage (about 1kg)
- 50g table salt
- 70g sea salt
- 450g daikon radish cut into fine julienne strips
- 30g chives cut into 4cm lengths
- 4 spring onions halved lengthways and cut into 4cm lengths
- 1 1/2 tbsp rice flour
- 8 garlic cloves
- 20g grated ginger
- 100g finely chopped onion
- 1tbsp salted shrimp paste
- 70g gochugaru red pepper powder (I substituted medium strength smoked paprika)
- 100ml nam pla
- 2tbsp soy sauce
- 1tbsp coconut sugar (you can use unrefined sugar if you can’t get coconut sugar)
- 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
First prepare the cabbage. I misread the instructions and separated the leaves, this recipe actually asks you to cut the base off the cabbage and separate the leaves whilst keeping the cabbage intact. Rinse well and sprinkle the sea salt on each leaf, focussing on the thick base and working up to the thinner peak then place in a bowl of saline made with 1 litre of water and the table salt. Leave for four hours until the leaves are soft and limp.
Meanwhile make the paste. This was new to me, I had never used rice flour before and this was a much thicker paste than I had made before. Mix the flour with 2 tbsp of water with a fork until there are no lumps and add a further 230ml of water and place in a pan. Heat to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 5 minutes stirring all the time until the paste is thick and glutenous.
Remove from the heat and leave to cool, the paste will become thicker still as it does
Combine all the rest of the paste ingredients in a food processor with the cooled paste.
Transfer to a large bowl with the daikon, spring onions, and chives. Mix well ensuring that all the vegetables are well combined with the paste.
Now this is where I had to divert from the original instructions as I had separated my cabbage leaves. I covered each leaf with the mixture and rolled it up. If you have followed the instructions properly you spoon the mixture onto each cabbage half making sure to cover every leaf with the mixture and wrapping the outer leaf of each half around the cabbage to keep the mixture in.
Place in the jar leaving 3cm between the cabbage and the lid. Seal tightly and keep at room temperature for two days. By then it will have started to ferment and will smell a little sour and there will be plenty of juice. Press the cabbage down into the juice, reseal and place in the fridge. Start to taste it after a couple of weeks. The longer you leave it the more sour it will become. It should keep for about five to six months in an air tight container in the fridge.
Love Gillie x