What's a white girl doing tampering with classic Korean cuisine? I'll tell you what: I LOVE Kimchi, and I LOVE fermented food which makes me like it even more--I'm feeling up to the challenge! Plus, aren't we all from Asian ancestry anyways? It's in my blood!
Basically, Kimchi is the spicier, tastier sauerkraut of Asia, and it's "umami" flavour will knock your socks off. I feel like I'm cheating on sauerkraut when I say this, but this Korean classic definitely takes the cake. Traditionally, kimchi is a side dish, but I've been putting it on everything from burgers (thanks Pinterest), to eggs, to sushi, to....right out of the jar... *oink*oink*
There are hundreds of different ways to make kimchi. It can consist of any combo of fermented veggies, in a spicy-sour sauce, but today I'm going to keep my recipe as basic as possible. I'm in no way trying claim that I'm a kimchi expert, and because I use sriracha, this recipe may be considered blasphemy to some, but I'll tell you one thing: it's damn good, and it tastes as traditional as any kimchi I've ever had! Oops, I think that's two things.
Before you begin your kimchi journey, you may find it helpful to brush up on your fermented food knowledge. To learn more about fermentation, and what makes kimchi a nutritious super-food, read my post, "Fermentation 101: The Very Basics on Fermenting Food."
I hope you enjoy this Kimchi with Sriracha as much as I do! (I'm eating with with perogies tonight)
1 small Napa Cabbage, or half of a large one (about 1 lbs)
3 tbsp Salt, non-iodized
4 cups Cold Water
6-inch piece of Diakon Radish, peeled and cut into match sticks (about a cup)
2-3 Green Onions
2-3 cloves of Garlic
1/2 tsp Ginger, grated
1 tsp Red Chili Flakes
3/4 tsp Sugar (preferably raw, organic)
1 tsp - 1 tbsp Sriracha (mild-hot)
1 tbsp + 1 tsp Fish Sauce (Kelp Powder for a vegetarian version)
Step one, cut the cabbage in half, then into quarters, and again into 1 inch pieces.
Next, massage 3 tbsp of non-iodized salt into the cabbage leaves (about 2 minutes.) *Iodized salt interferes with the fermentation process* The salt will pull out the moisture and cause the cabbage to wilt. Pour about 4 cups of cold, distilled water over the cabbage and cover it with a tea-towel. Leave it rest for about 2 hours.
While the cabbage is chillin', prepare the remaining ingredients. Peel the diakon radish, and patiently cut it into match-stick sizes. Dice the green onion - I leave it in relatively big pieces so that I can see and taste it. I also added a few chives to the mix just for fun!
Using a mortar and pestle, or a bowl and a fork, mix/mash the ginger, garlic, fish sauce, sugar, chili flakes and sriracha, until you have a paste. Use a tsp of sriracha for mild-medium spice, and a tbsp for more of a kick. I use a full tablespoon because I'm crazy like that.
Once the cabbage has finished soaking, pour it into a colander, and rinse it several times. Squeeze the water out, and transfer it back to the bowl. Add the paste and remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly with your hands. At this point I put on gloves so my hands don't get stained or stinky.
Next, transfer the mixture to a jar. Press the cabbage below the water (fermentation in an anaerobic process, which means it takes place in the absence of oxygen.) You can use a small, clean, zip-lock bag full of water to keep then cabbage below the surface, or continue to press it down each day.
Seal the kimchi with an lid, and leave it to ferment for about 3-5 days. Beneficial microorganisms, required for the fermentation process, thrive best at about 100°. After 1 day you should start to see little bubbles forming. After about 3 days, try it, and if it's to your liking, transfer it to your fridge. It will continue to ferment in your fridge, but at a much slower pace. At this point you can start eating it! Yum yum enjoy!
How do you eat your kimchi?