It has a strong and characteristic smell, its flavor is salty and spicy, it can be served directly as a banchan, or an ingredient in stews and soups, having a fundamental role in Korean gastronomy. Kimchi, due to its legacy in Korean culture, has been added to the representative list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO, following initiatives by South Korea in 2013, and North Korea in 2015.
Kimchi tastes wonderful and can be used as a garnish for vegetables, a dressing, or added to soups and stews.
For approximately 1.5 liters:
- 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 medium carrot, chopped like 3/10 × 3/10 × 5 cm (1/4 × 1/4 × 2-inch) french fries
- 6 cups of water
- 2 pounds (1 kg) Chinese cabbage (napa), diced 2 inches (5 cm)
- 6 chives, chopped 2 inches (5.1 cm) long, then thinly sliced
- 1/2 tablespoon fresh ground ginger
- 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
- 3 tablespoons brined shrimp sauce or anchovy sauce (available in Korean food stores). If you want a vegetarian kimchi, skip it.
- 1/4 cup ground dehydrated chili (or other slightly hot chili powder)
- 1 cup grated Korean radish (“moo” in Korean)
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
Wash your hands, all utensils, and containers before you begin. It is imperative that everything is clean: jars, utensils and your hands, otherwise the probiotics could start to develop coliforms. Kimchi and kombucha could develop mold due to unsanitary practices.
Dissolve the 3 tablespoons of salt in the water.
Put the cabbage in a bowl, container, or large non-reactive pot and pour the brine inside.
Mash the cabbage with a plate. Let the cabbage sit for about 12 hours.
Drain the cabbage and reserve the brine. Mix the cabbage with the rest of the ingredients, including the teaspoon of salt.
Put the mixture in a jar with a capacity of 2 liters. Pour enough of the brine over the cabbage to cover it. Put a plastic freezer bag in the mouth of the jar, pour the remaining brine into the bag, and seal it.
- You may prefer not to put the plastic bag in the mouth of the jar. The probiotics in kimchi are almost the same as in kombucha. Both are highly reactive to plastic, metal, and all materials with a Teflon® or similar coating, including Microban®. These materials will break down under the probiotics and could poison you. Do not use plastic or metal utensils or containers (rather use wooden ones), to store kimchi, use only glass. For this reason, you shouldn't buy kimchi in plastic jars. Just cover the jar and leave the lid loose to bubble while it ferments. When the kimchi gets the tart flavor you like, just close the lid tightly and wash the outside of the jar.
Let the kimchi ferment in a cool place at a temperature no higher than 68 ° F (20 ° C) for 3 to 6 days. Let it ferment until it gets the sour taste you like.
Take out the bag of brine and close the lid tightly. Store the kimchi in the refrigerator, where it will keep for months.
- It will not be necessary for you to go to a specialized store of Korean products to buy the anchovy sauce, because the Thai Kitchen brand is available in stores like Shaw's, Hannaford (in the USA), and many other supermarkets have fish sauce that is made just anchovies and salt. On the other hand, you will have to buy the shrimp brine in a specialized store.
- You can use this recipe to prepare raw fish and also a wide variety of vegetables, such as: turnip, pepper, watermelon rind (take out the green part, use only the white one), mint leaves. For raw fish (we recommend you cut tilapia fillets into strips), be sure to soak in a vinegar solution for at least 30 minutes (squeeze the fish every 5 minutes to expel the water while the vinegar cooks the fish). Then wash the fish in water and squeeze it to get as much liquid as possible. Use the same ingredients (for example: ½ medium C-chopped onion, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 tablespoon salt, and ¼ cup red bell pepper), but only refrigerate 24 hours before you eat it.
- You should be cautious when preparing this dish, since the fermentation process requires that the food be stored at temperatures higher than refrigeration. If you doubt your abilities to prepare this dish, reach out to the local Korean community for advice. You will be happy to share what you know.
- Plastic and metal contain chemicals and heavy metals that can be broken down by probiotics, so even if you try to be healthier, you could be poisoned.
- Washing your hands and the jar paying close attention to nails and cracks will do a lot to keep everything in a healthy condition.
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