Since this has been the year that I have tried to eliminate processed foods from my family’s diet, I thought that I’d try making my own kimchee.
Making kimchee involves using the same fermentation as making your own sauerkraut or dill pickles. This means first soaking the cabbage in a salty brine to kill off harmful bacteria and then allowing the remaining Lactobacillus bacteria, or “good” bacteria to convert the sugars in the cabbage to lactic acid in order to preserve the cabbage and give it a tasty, spicy flavor.
Since this has been the year that I have started trying to use fewer and fewer processed foods, and since “simple” kimchee…also know as “mak kimchee”…is actually “simple” to make at home, here’s the basic process…
- Cut the cabbage into 2″ strips. Place in a large bowl.
- Sprinkle ¼C sea salt or kosher salt over it.
- Use salt that is free of iodine and anti-caking agents, which can inhibit fermentation.
- Gently massage the salt into the cabbage so the leaves start to soften.
- Add enough water to cover the cabbage.
- Use spring, distilled, or filtered water. Any chlorine in the water can prevent the kimchi from fermenting.
- Cover with plastic wrap or a baking sheet.
- Let sit at room temperature at least twelve hours.
- Rinse the cabbage under cold water 3 times.
- Gently squeeze out the excess liquid,
- Set aside to drain in the colander for 15 to 20 minutes.
Make spice paste.
- Combine whatever spices you have chosen to make your spice paste.
- This is a matter of personal preference, depending on how spicy you want your kimchee to be once you’ve finished making it.
- Options might include 1Tbsp-5Tbsp gochugaru, 5 to 6 grated garlic cloves, 1tsp ginger, 1tsp sugar.
- In addition to the spices, you will want to add some sort of seafood or vegetarian alternative–such as 2Tbsp fish sauce or salted shrimp paste or 3/4tsp kelp powder mixed with 3 tablespoons water or 2tsp minced Korean salted shrimp–because this is what gives kimchi its expected taste.
- Stir spices and fishy whatever to form a smooth paste.
Finish making the sushi.
- Combine the cabbage and spice paste in a bowl.
- Squeeze rhe cabbage gently to remove any remaining water from the cabbage.
- Add any other vegetables if you want to add them—such as 8 ounces Korean radish or daikon radish, peeled and cut into matchsticks or 4 medium scallions, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces.
- Work the paste into the vegetables until they are thoroughly coated. I would suggest wearing gloves because the spice mix can sting, stain, and smell.
Pack the kimchi into the jar.
- Pack the kimchi tightly into a wide-mouth glass jar.
- Press down on the kimchi until the brine rises to cover the vegetables, leaving at least 1″ of space at the top.
- Seal the jar tightly with a lid.
Wait a week or so.
- Set the jar in a cool, dark place for one or two days.
- After these first two days, open the jar and press on the kimchi with a spoon.
- Check the kimchee once a day by pressing down on the kimchee with a spoon to keep the veggies under the brine and to
- Keep pressing down on the vegetables with a finger or spoon to keep them submerged under the brine and to release any gases produced during fermentation.
- Keep checking the jar for the next several days.
- Once bubbles appear at the top of the jar and the kimchee tastes tangy and sour enough for your liking, it’s properly fermented and ready to be refrigerated.
Refrigerate your kimchee
- Now set the kimchi in the fridge for another week or so.
- The longer you refrigerate your kimchee, the better the flavor will become.
- Your kimchee will stay edible for the next three to five months, as long as there’s still brine in the jar, kimchi can last for several months in the refrigerator.
- But if the brine becomes particularly fizzy with bubbles, your kimchee has gone bad,
Now that you’ve made your own kimchee, you will find that it can be used so many different ways in your everyday cooking—such as rice, noodles, and soup—
But first if you simly haven’t have enough time or honestly don’t want to bother with making your own kimchee, let’s look at a few great sources for buying kimchee, and other Korean roducts, online.