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This text and recipe is posted with permission from Spicebox Kitchen by Linda Shiue, MD.
From the author: Kimchi is an icon of Korean cuisine, eaten both as an accompaniment to pretty much anything, or as an ingredient to add tremendous flavor to such things as fried rice, kimchi jjigae (kimchi stew), and more. The traditional method of making kimchi is laborious and time-consuming (and the recipes are tightly held family secrets).
This version is a slightly streamlined recipe (the brining time is shorter, the cabbage leaves are cut before fermenting, and fish sauce is used rather than whole seafood), but I think you’ll find it better than many versions you can buy. For a vegan version, use a vegetarian fish sauce or substitute 3/4 teaspoon kelp powder mixed in 2 tablespoons water.
Makes 2 quarts kimchi
1 medium-size napa cabbage (about 2 pounds)1/4 cup Pacific flake sea salt2 tablespoons grated garlic (about 6 cloves)1 tablespoon peeled and grated fresh ginger1 teaspoon sugar2 tablespoons fish sauce3 tablespoons water1/4 cup gochugaru (Kimchi chile flakes)8 ounces daikon radish, peeled and cut into 1-inch-long matchsticks1 bunch scallions, cut into 2-inch lengths
Cut cabbage into quarters lengthwise, remove core, and then cut crosswise into 2-inch-wide strips. Place in a large bowl and sprinkle evenly with salt, using your hands to work salt evenly through leaves.
Add enough cold water to just cover cabbage, then place a heavy plate or pan on top to weight it down. Allow to sit for 2 hours or overnight until wilted and water has been released.
To make the spice paste, combine garlic, ginger, sugar, fish sauce, water, and gochugaru in a small bowl.
Once cabbage has wilted, drain brining liquid, then rinse thoroughly with cold running water, twice. After draining thoroughly in a colander, squeeze out as much liquid as you can. (This will allow for more intense flavor.)
Place cabbage back in its large bowl and add daikon and scallions, then put on a pair of gloves and work the spice paste into the vegetables, making sure all vegetables are evenly coated.
Place in glass jars, packing tightly so that kimchi is submerged in its own liquid (there may not be too much liquid at first, but it will develop within a few hours.) Seal jars and place on a plate to catch any overflow of juices as kimchi ferments. You can eat it immediately, but it won’t be fermented yet.
Check daily to see when it is at your desired level of fermentation. You’ll start to notice bubbling by second day, increasing as fermentation continues. Days 3 through 5 are the sweet spot for me, but any time from day 3 to 7 will yield a deliciously funky product. Use a clean spoon daily to keep cabbage leaves submerged in their liquid. Once kimchi is ready, keep in refrigerator.
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