Kimchi is the quintessential Korean dish. There are many different types of Kimchi, but the most famous one is Napa Cabbage Kimchi.
You will find this healthy dish in virtually every refrigerator in Korea. It is so important to the culture of Korea that there is even a “Kimchi Index” in Korea. It helps Koreans track the change in price of the main ingredients used in Kimchi – Napa cabbage, chili, radish and anchovies. When the price volatility is high, it makes national headlines.
It seems with the ever-busy lifestyle of Korea, the art of making Kimchi is being lost. It is rare to see families (let alone, single dwellers) to make it at home. Traditionally, a family would schedule a weekend in winter to make a large batch of Kimchi for the year, often using up to 10 Napa cabbages at a time! It is a labor of love.
Today, we show you a simple recipe that you can make at home – using only one head of Napa cabbage. This way, you can sample the flavors, gauge spice level and reduce prep time. Also, it’s okay if you mess up with one cabbage. Big deal – just buy another one! However, if you mess up with a batch of 10 cabbages, chances are you will never try making Kimchi again! Our recipe is simple and has the right balance of Korean flavors
Key taste variable: Time
The taste of the Kimchi will change slightly as you leave it longer in the refrigerator. This is normal and you should try it at its different stages. Try tasting it fresh – right after you finish coating it with the Kimchi paste. Then sample it after 1 day of sitting out (and fermenting). Then try it cold, after it has had time to chill in the refrigerator. You will notice the flavor get deeper and more concentrated. I think it taste best when it has had some time to sit in the refrigerator for a few days.
Kimchi - A simple recipe for your first time
- Napa cabbage - 1 head
- Kosher salt or Sea Salt - 1.5 cups Don't use regular dining salt - the salt crystals should be large
- Korean radish - 2 inch piece
- Asian Chives - 20 stalks
- Dashima Kombu - iPhone size piece of
- Shiitake mushrooms - 4
- Glutinous rice powder - 2 Tablespoon ok to use all-purpose flour as well
- Gochugaru Korean red chili flakes - 1 cup
- Minced garlic - 2 Tablespoon
- Minced ginger - 1 Tablespoon
- Anchovy sauce - 1/4 cup
- Honey - 2 Tablespoon
- Sugar - 1/2 Tablespoon
- Salt - 1 Tablespoon
- Cut the Napa cabbage into 4 pieces. Wash thoroughly and get off any dirt - especially near the stems.
- Fill a large plastic bowl with 6 cups of water. Then add-in 1/2 cup* of kosher salt. [*NOTE: In the video, we state to add 1 cup of kosher salt. That's because we purposely didn't stir the water until the salt pieces completely dissolved. Some of our viewers have stirred the water until all of the salt crystals disintegrate - which makes the water too salty! To avoid confusion, we recommend using only 1/2 cup of kosher salt.] After adding the 1/2 cup, give the water a few stirs with your hands. (Again, no need to completely dissolve the salt into the water.) Then quickly dip each cabbage piece into the water - just so its wet, don't leave it sitting in the water. Afterwards, set it on a strainer and let it drip-off excess water for a few minutes.
- Then pour-out 1 cup** of kosher salt - we'll use roughly this amount for the entire 4 cabbage pieces. Now, grab some salt with your fingers and toss it onto each layer of the cabbage - just a few sprinkles for each layer. (Imagine sprinkling salt on an egg - thats the amount you want to put on each layer.) Focus the salt onto the white stems of the cabbage.[**NOTE: You do NOT need to sprinkle on the whole 1 cup of salt - okay to use like 3/4 cup and have some leftover (as cabbage sizes are not always the same). Don't over-salt in this stage or your Kimchi will taste too salty] Then cover it with a lid (to prevent bugs from getting in) and let it sit in room-temperature for at least 6 hours (or overnight).
- Next day, bend the cabbage stem and check that it doesn't snap. If it does snap, let it sit for longer in the salty water.
- Drain the cabbage from the brine and wash each layer thoroughly under a running faucet. After one round of washing, wash again! This second wash will help reduce the overall salty flavor from the leaves. [IMPORTANT: At this point, taste the cabbage leaf - it should taste slightly-salty, but not overly salty.]Wash it again for a third time - if it tastes too salty.
- Set the washed cabbage pieces on a strainer and get rid of excess water.
- Peel Korean radish. Then cut each section into thin circles. Then cut each circle into thin match sticks.
- Cut asian chives into 2 inch sections.
- Take out a pot and fill with 2 cups of water. Place in 4 Shiitake mushrooms and dashima pieces. Put it on a medium heat and cook for 10 minutes to extract broth. Strain the broth and let it fully cool down. (Note: It is important to let the stock broth cool down completely)
- When the broth is cooled down, place in the glutinous rice powder (or flour) and mix into the stock. Mix thoroughly to get rid of all clumps. (Note: Don't turn on the heat until you have fully mixed the powder into the stock). Then place the pot onto a medium heat. Keep stirring until the paste thickens up and gets a gravvy-like consistency.
- Get a large plastic bowl. Put in Gochugaru, minced garlic, minced ginger, anchovy sauce, honey, salt and sugar. Then put-in the paste as well. Give all of the ingredients a good mix.
- Then put-in the Korean radish and garlic chive pieces as well. Mix veggies in and coat them in the thick paste.
- Place Kimchi paste on each layer of the cabbage leaf (reference video). Repeat for all 4 cabbage pieces.
- Place the finished Kimchi pieces into a large Tupperware or large mason jar.
- Place plastic wrap over the container and poke some holes into it. Let it sit out in room temperature for one day.
- The next day, you will see bubbles in the kimchi liquid (from the fermentation). Now place the fermenting kimchi in the refrigerator. Let it chill in the refrigerator for a few hours
- Once the kimchi is cold, chop the cabbage into sections and serve! Enjoy!
- Make sure to cool down the stock soup before placing in the glutinous rice powder. Fully stir in the powder until you see no lumps - then turn on the heat.
- With each week, the Kimchi will taste more sour as it ferments longer. Kimchi is edible for many months. "Aged" Kimchi is popular in Kimchi Jjigae or Kimchi panackes.
- If you have any specific questions, leave us a comment.
- Watch video below for more details.