Kimchi the quintessential part of Korean cuisine, is something that my whole family loves. I for one loved it the very first time I put the spicy, sour, crunchy delight into my mouth. A lot of people I know are yet to develop a taste for this but I for one love this dish so much that it is almost there in my fridge throughout the year. Yes, I had to learn how to make it and there was no way out. Though I don’t have the Kimchi refrigerator that you get in Korea , yes they have separate refrigerators for Kimchi which has the ideal temperature to store Kimchi for longer period of time.
Before I share the recipe I have to say a few lines about this amazing dish, after all it is considered the national dish of a country which I love so much next to my own :D. Kimchi is said to be among the top 5 healthiest food in the world. It is said to have cancer fighting properties too. Well personally I think it is the secret of the glowing skin and great figures that Korean girls have :p . In the earlier times it used to be stored in latge earthen pots which would be buried in the ground. There are over 180 varieties of Kimchi but here I will share the most common and basic preparation which is used as accompaniment in every household. My only suggestion would be to avoid making in big batches if the weather is too hot the perfect weather to make big batches is from September to mid December. Again in extreme coz it does not ferment too well 🙂
- 3 kg Napa Cabbage ( about 2 large heads )
- 1 large Moo / Korean Radish
- 200 gms Chives
- A big Bunch of Spring Onions
- 1 Cup or more Gochugaro ( Korean Red pepper flakes)
- 2-3 Tbs Rice Flour
- 1 1/2 Cup Water
- 2 Tbs Toasted Sesame Seed
Cabbage Brine :
- 2 1/2 Cups coarse Sea Salt
- 15 Cups water
For the Paste :
- 1 medium Apple
- 2 Medium Onions
- 15-16 Garlic cloves
- 1/2 Cup Fish Sauce
- 1 Tbs Anchovy sauce (optional)
- Thumb size Ginger
- 2 Tbs Sugar
- Clean the cabbage and discard any spoilt or limp leaves. Wash and drain excess water. Quarter the cabbage and keep aside.
- In a big bowl mix 1 cup sea salt with 15 cups of water till dissolved. Now take the quartered cabbage one at a time and sprinkle the remaining sea salt in between the leaves and put them in the brine water.
- Make sure to fully submerge all the cabbages in the brine solution. You can place something heavy on top to do that. Let it soak for 4-5 hours, till the cabbages are wilted. Now remove and just wash them once in a bowl of water and squeeze out the excess water and keep aside.
- While the cabbage is soaking. Cut the radish into matchsticks, cut the chives and green part of the green onions into about 3″ size and slice the white part of the spring onion. Place all these in a big bowl.
- Now mix the rice flour in 1 1/2 cup water till it is mixed well. Now cook this on low heat , stirring continuously,till it starts to bubble and becomes a thick paste. Let it cool.
- Take all the ingredients listed under paste and blend it in a blender till you get a smooth paste.
- Now to the bowl of chopped radish, chives and spring onions add the blended paste, the rice flour paste, sesame seeds and the gochugaro. Using your hand give it a good mix till it is nicely mixed. Taste it and adjust the seasoning by adding more fish sauce or sea salt.
- Now take each quartered cabbage and slather this mixture in between the leaves and all over it. Fold a little from the top and place it in glass containers.
- Once all the cabbages have been placed put about 1 1/2 cup of water in the bowl and give it a good swirl to wash all the remaining paste in the bowl and pour this water over the cabbages.
- This can be eaten right away or you can shut it tight and let it ferment for a couple of days. Depending on the temperature you may keep it out for 2-3 days and once it starts fermenting place it in the refrigerator.
Koreans have special Kimchi refrigerator which can store Kimchi for a very long period. But in the regular refrigerator try to consume as soon as possible. Though it won’t spoil for more than a month but over a period of time it becomes quite sour. The over fermented kimchi can be used to make stews, pancakes and fried rice etc.