January 7, 2007

Kimchi is one of those food where it requires an acquired taste for. Just like durians (the king of all fruits – it smells like sh*t to some but heavenly to others). Kimchi is actually korean preserved vegetables. I won’t say preserved cabbage as there are many different types of kimchis using a variety of vegetables. But the ones we know best is probably kimchi using napa cabbage (or chinese cabbage).

Kimchi is very good for you and for those who love it, like me, it tastes absolutely awesome. And it’s VERY easy to make. There is no reason to not be making your own kimchi at all – unless you hate it. And I cannot emphasize enough it’s culinary versatility besides being a side dish for most korean cuisine. You can use it to make kimchi stirfry using chicken, tofu, pork, beef, venison, ostrich, or even seafood! You can even use it to flavor soup. It’s so good for you health wise and taste wise, even the Japanese have adapted the recipe as part of their diet. But don’t be fooled, only true korean kimchis cut it…the Japanese version is just too sweet.

Anyway, I have taken to making my own kimchi at home and it’s been a real success so far. To date, i have made like 10 batches, each time, using 3 to 4 chinese cabbages at a time. For those of you who don’t know how Napa Cabbaga looks like, here’s a picture for you: –

I am sure you’d have seen it in your supermarket somewhere, if not, just go down Chinatown and you’ll find some there for about 60 – 75 cents per pound depending on where you are. If you’re in asian countries – you’ll get it for real cheap.

Anyway, let’s get to making kimchi.


What you need:

2 Napa Cabbage
100g Sea Salt (or non-iodized table salt works fine)

10 tablespoons of korean chili powder
2 tablespoon sugar
2 garlic, minced real finely or mash it with the back of a spoon on the chopping board (or just go out and buy a tube of mashed garlic….:P)
1 inch of ginger, minced finely (or 1 teaspoon of ginger powder if you don’t have fresh ginger)
5-10 stalks of spring onions (cut into 1 inch lengths)
1 tablespoon of kimchi sauce (optional)


1. Prepare your cabbage – Cut your cabbages into quarters length wise. Wash them them thoroughly and throw away leaves that are wilted or have dark spots on it. Cut them into 2 inch pieces and place them in a plastic bag. You are going to pickle them with salt because you want to get as much liquid out from the cabbage as possible. In my ready made kimchi pictures, you can see that I didn’t chop my cabbage up instead I kept them in quarters so they’re big – big also mean harder to marinate later. Don’t do that (yet), just cut them into about 2 inch pieces and put them in a plastic bag.

2. Take salt and put all of it into the bag of cabbage. Squish them until all the cabbage are coated with salt. It’s fun, just keep squishing until you’re sure every leave is about covered in some salt. Once you’re done, tie the bag and leave it on the kitchen counter for about 5-8 hours – i just leave it overnight.

3. After that, you’ll find that the bag is filled with water and the cabbage has reduced in size considerably. The fun part, more squishing! You squeeze as much liquid out from the cabbage and put them in another bag plastic bag. Once you’re done squeezing every bit of liquid off the cabbage, it’s time for the next step of marinating and pickling the cabbage with the chili.

4. Put in the garlic, ginger, sugar, spring onions, kimchi sauce (if using), and korean chili powder into the bag of cured cabbages. More squishing. Using your bare hands (or wearing glove if you have nice manicured nails u don’t want to ruin), mix the cabbages and all that other ingredients you just put in until everything is covered red. If you want your kimchi to be redder and more peppery like me, add more korean chili powder. Keep squishing till every leaf is covered with the mixture.

5. Take the kimchi out of the bag and transfer it to a big tupperware/container. Cover and leave it out for 4 days on a cool place like your kitchen counter or your fridge (if you’re in the tropics). Don’t touch it or open it unnecessarily. After 4 days, you can start eating your kimchi! 😀 Store ready kimchi in fridge.

Now all you need is a little bit of patience. The longer you keep your kimchi, the better it tastes – I am so not kidding. The koreans leave them for months on end, and they never turn bad. Well, i don’t think any bacteria can live in that chilli filled condition really.

Anyway, if you would like to make kimchi stirfry – I’ll post it on my next post soon! 😀

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