My best friend is half Korean. When I was 8 or 9 years old I remember sitting at her kitchen table while her mom served us lunch. I was mortified when I discovered there was seaweed in my won ton soup. My friend recognized the look of horror on my face and said, “Eat it. It’s good!” I ate it, but it took a few times for me to really develop a taste for it.
Same goes for kimchi… it took me a while to develop a taste for it, enjoy it, and to want to eat it.
My brother bought some homemade kimchi from a local Asian store, and it was phenomenal. I couldn’t stop eating it. It was a perfect balance of spicy, sweet, tangy, salty, and then you have the back note flavors of ginger and garlic. I loved it so much I had to figure out how to make it myself, just a bit healthier than some of the other recipes I’ve come across (that contain cane sugar and plenty of sweet rice flour).
My best friend recently returned from a trip to Korea and sent me some authentic Korean red pepper. You know you’re a crazy foodie when something as simple as fresh ground red pepper makes your day (but it came all the way from Korea!). 🙂
I’ve made at least several batches of this kimchi, and people keep stealing it, so that’s a good sign. This stuff is addictive. Pretty soon your friends are going to steal your kimchi!
There are many ways to eat kimchi. Some people enjoy eating it by itself and others with rice and meat. I’ve even heard of people making sandwiches using kimchi as the filling. Bottom line is there is no right or wrong way to eat kimchi. Discover what you like best and enjoy it that way. 🙂
Kimchi Me Crazy (dairy free/Paleo & GAPS friendly)
- 2 heads of Napa cabbage (medium sized cabbages are best)
- 2 tablespoons sea salt
- 6 – 8 tablespoons coarse ground Korean red pepper
- 1 3/4 tablespoons gluten-free fish sauce
- 1-2 tablespoons palm sugar
- 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
- 2 -3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 bunches of scallions, cut into 1.5-inch pieces
- 3 to 4 large carrots, peeled and shredded
- Cut each cabbage in half lengthwise, and then roughly chop each half into 2-inch pieces. Discard the stem.
- In a large mixing bowl, layer the chopped cabbage with the sea salt. Allow the cabbage to sit with the sea salt for about an hour; stirring occasionally using your hands to squeeze and bruise the cabbage. This will help draw out the moisture from the cabbage (do not discard this liquid).
- Sprinkle in the Korean red pepper, fish sauce, palm sugar, fresh grated ginger, and minced garlic. Mix well.
- Stir in the scallions and shredded carrots.
- Divide the kimchi into two sterilized 4-quart glass jars. Using the back of a spoon, pack the kimchi into the jars, leaving about 2-inches of room at the top of each jar (you can use a 3rd jar if you need to). Make sure your kimchi has just enough liquid to be submerged. If the kimchi is not submerged, add just enough filtered water to cover it.
- Screw lids loosely on the jars and place the jars in a shallow baking dish (in case they overflow while fermenting). Place in a cool dark area and allow the kimchi to ferment for 2 to 5 days. As the kimchi ferments, it will produce air bubbles and more moisture; the kimchi will separate from the liquid. Take the back of a spoon and push the kimchi down, all the way to the bottom of the jar. This will "burp" the air bubbles and mix the kimchi back into the liquid it has separated from. Try to keep the jars as clean as possible; use a clean cloth to wipe the jars if necessary. As the kimchi ferments, it will develop a tang, this is perfectly normal. It will also smell strong, like tangy/yeasty garlic and ginger, but should never smell rancid at any time. If for some reason yours smells rancid, throw it out. While I've never had a ferment go rancid, I've heard of it happening occasionally to other people; normally this happens because the jars were never properly sterilized.
- At the end of the fermentation, store the kimchi in the refrigerator. Consume within 3-5 months.
This is my cabbage after I layered it with the sea salt in my mixing bowl:
The salt eventually broke down the cabbage and drew out the moisture. Now you are ready to add the rest of your ingredients and pack the kimchi into glass jars!