Making Kimchi – revisited

November 16, 2008

I’ve been making my own kimchi since the start of this blog. The recipe I’ve been using has served it purpose of satisfying my cravings but it is far from authentic. What I mean by that is that the method used to preserved kimchi from this site is far from how it is traditionally done in Korea. Granted, I know many koreans who live overseas make-do with what they have. See previous kimchi recipe here – but I promise, this one new one is 100times better.

Recently, I’ve discovered this incredible Korean lady who cooks incredible korean fares on her blog, Maangchi.com :) And her kimchi recipe is the closest thing to the original method of making kimchi. I saw Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservation: Korea and saw the whole kimchi making process – let me just say it is not as simple as just sprinkling chili powder on cabbages.


Watch minute 3.30 onwards :)

There is a thin roux-like base made from glutinous rice flour that needs to be prepared for the kimchi paste in which it would be used to bath the Chinese cabbage after it’s been salted. It’s the red chili goo you see Korean women smearing on vegetables before tucking the vegetables into clay barrels. The kimchi recipe I used called for me to chop the cabbages into 1 inch pieces first but apparently, according to my friend who lives with a Korean girl, this type of kimchi is considered low-grade kimchi as good kimchi comes in whole-halved (or quartered) cabbages – each leaf is stuffed with the kimchi paste.

Thanks to Maangchi, i have found the recipe for kimchi paste and it worked magnificently. In fact, it is better than the recipe I had tried before.

This is what I used:

2 large Chinese Cabbage
100grams of salt

Kimchi paste:
1 cup glutinous rice flour (or mochi flour)
2 cups water
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup fish sauce

2/3 cup of dry Korean chili powder, or more if desired
1 bulb of garlic, peeled
1 onion
2 inches ginger
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1 bunch of chinese chives (or Ong Choy in Chinese)
1/2 cup shredded daikon radish
10 pieces of fresh oysters (optional)

Method:

1. Wash and cut your Chinese cabbage length-wise into quarters, after that give these quartered cabbages a quick bath in water. It would help rinse out impurities from within the leaves and also help the salt to stick later on.

2. Peel each leaf from a quarter of the cabbage and sprinkle salt from the stem to the leaves of the cabbage. Put more salt on the stem as they are thicker. Repeat this for each leafy layer and until ALL the cabbages are salted. Leave them in a plugged basin and let the osmosis work its way through the cabbages for 4 hours. At the end of the 2nd hour, your cabbages should be quite wilted and water would have seeped out of the vegetable; now turn each cabbage quarter over and let them sit in their salty brine for the rest of hours.

3. While your cabbage is being salted to get rid of excess water, you can start making your kimchi paste. Combine glutinous rice flour and water in a pot and bring to a boil. Stir constantly and you will have a concoction that is similar to rice congee. When it is thick like that, turn off the heat and you can go to the next step.4. Add the fish sauce, and sugar, and stir to combine well, now you can add your chili powder in. Stir to mix the red paste into a nice amalgamated thick sauce.

5. In a food processor, add your ginger, garlic and onion and blitz until you get a nice paste. Add this into the red chili concoction and mix again. Once that is done, add the rest of the vegetables in and combine well. Now is the time to add your fresh oysters if you are using them. Mix well and your kimchi paste is done.

6. Your cabbage should have shrunk in size considerably by now and this step is rather important if you don’t want to have an overly salty kimchi. You need to rinse the cabbage quarters 3 times to get rid of excess salt. Remember to squeeze all excess water out. Once this is done, you can move on to the next step where you spread the kimchi paste on each leaf of the cabbage.


7. Using your hands is vital in making good kimchi and there is really no other way to it. So with one hand peeling a leaf of cabbage and the other grabbing a handful of kimchi paste, smear the red paste on each leaf and repeat until ALL your cabbages are used.

Now, you can store your kimchi in containers and leave them in room temperature for 2 days until they ferment. You will know when your kimchi is fermented when it emits a sourish smell and maybe a fizzle can be hear when you open up the container to check :)

** if you have extra kimchi paste, store them in a bottle and use them as you would to season broths. Or make kakdugi, which is kimchi made from cubed daikon radish.
I tried eating kimchi freshly made as suggested by Maangchi and thought it was absolutely refreshing. But I still like the sourish taste of fermented kimchi more because I like sourish foods :)

You must give this recipe a try if you are a kimchi lover because once you know how to make your own kimchi, you never want to go store-bought again. And plus, as I have said previously, kimchi is incredibly versatile and tastes awesome in stir fries. But with my kimchi, I’ve made this:

Kimchi chigae stew!
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