Friday, January 16, 2015
Make your own Kimchi–Day One
OK…we’re ready to go! Here is the basic recipe we started with last summer, a great one to start with if you’ve never made kimchi before.
1 (2-pound) Napa cabbage
1/2 cup kosher salt
8 ounces Daikon radish, peeled and cut into 2-inch matchsticks
4 medium scallions, ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces (use all parts)
1/3 cup Korean red pepper powder
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup peeled and minced fresh ginger (from about a 2-ounce piece)
1 tablespoon minced garlic cloves (from 6 to 8 medium cloves)
2 teaspoons Korean salted shrimp, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
Having done this recipe a few times, I am ready to strike out on my own and make our first official Kitchen Table Kimchi. The directions below are the same you will use when you make your own.
There are 2 cardinal rules when it comes to home fermentation -
1. Make sure all of your containers are clean and sterile! If you are using glass or crockery, a weak bleach solution works great. Make sure it is well rinsed and wiped dry when you finish with the bleach. The ‘sniff test’ works great when you are done. If, after 10 minutes or so you still smell bleach, rinse it again. If you are using plastic in any part of the process, use white vinegar or citric acid as your sterilizing agent.
2. If it’s covered in brine, all will be fine. Simply put, always make sure the vegetables you are fermenting are completely submerged in the brine solution in your fermentation container. This will greatly reduce the chances of getting mold or unwanted bacterial processes.
I will be fermenting our kimchi in two 10 litre German fermentation pots we purchased through Amazon. Napa cabbage is not in season right now, so I placed an order with Fareway in Waukon and got it the next day.
Remove any wilted leaves from the outside of the cabbage, quarter it lengthwise and trim the stem end. Cut across the quartered cabbage every one or two inches, depending on how you like your kimchi. We prefer the one-inch-wide slices. When all four quarters have been sliced, put the cabbage in a large bowl and sprinkle 1 tablespoon of kosher salt over it all. Mix well by hand to distribute the salt evenly throughout. Repeat this process until you filled your bowl and salted all the cabbage you have. I have found one tablespoon of salt sufficient for one cabbage; 2 cabbages – two tablespoons, 4 cabbages – four tablespoons, etc.
Once you have sliced and salted all the cabbage you are going to ferment, let it sit for a couple of hours. I am using 10 heads of Napa cabbage here, so I’ve got a pretty good-sized container, as you can see!
While you are waiting on the cabbage, slice your onions and julienne the carrots and Daikon. When that is all done, add it to your waiting cabbage and mix it all in by hand. I couldn’t find Daikon radish anywhere (wrong time of the year) so I am going to use organic red globe radishes purchased at the Oneota Co-op in Decorah. The red radish will add both complexity and spiciness to the kimchi.
Mix the remaining ingredients in another bowl and set aside until the two hours have passed. When the cabbage has rested for a couple of hours, add the rest of the ingredients you mixed up while you were waiting. Mix by hand until the wet mix is evenly distributed throughout the cabbage. Pack it into your fermenter and push it down with a wooden ram or your fists until you see the liquid coming to the top of the cabbage. Place a plate or some type of cover over the mix and weigh it down. A jar full of water works nicely for this. Cover it all with a towel (or put the lid on the bucket) and let it work it’s magic for a week to ten days.