There’s something satisfying and eye-opening about fermentation. Whether it’s a loaf of sourdough or kimchi, the way it’s alive and bubbling is fascinating to me. Most of all, it’s easy to forget about the complex process, the skill, and the time that goes into handmaking dishes like kimchi, instead of just buying them at a store.
My dear friend and culinary queen Daph hosted a kimchi making day adventure at her place recently, where we all went from kimchi novices to… ermm… well, knowing a little bit more about it. Although I won’t lie, one of our friends blurted out ‘what is kimchi?’ at the start of the day. We all learned something, that’s for sure.
Hot tip: I would use gloves next time. My hands smelled like garlic until the next day.
Recipe via Maangchi with a few improvised updates. The most noticeable difference is that we used WAY more salt than Maangchi. This recipe makes a whole lotta kimchi. We didn’t weigh it, but I’d guesstimate around 7 or 8 kilos, and we filled about 14 containers of varying sizes.
To salt the cabbage:
- 7 large cabbage heads
- 3-4 cups salt (we alternated between pink Himalayan salt and regular table salt)
Cut the cabbage heads into quarters lengthways, then run them under running water. Rub salt onto each layer of cabbage, and let them rest for about two hours. Turn over the cabbage at least once to make sure they’re well salted. After two hours the cabbages have wilted significantly. Wash the cabbages twice to get rid of all the salt. Taste the cabbage to make sure it’s not too salty. Cut the cores off.
To make the kimchi paste:
- 4 cups water
- 4 tablespoons glutinous rice flour
- 4 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 cup garlic cloves (48 garlic cloves), minced
- 4 teaspoons ginger, minced
- 1 medium onion, minced
- 1 cup fish sauce
- 1/2 cup fermented shrimp (we used Cincalok, a Malaysian style fermented shrimp sauce, but Maangchi used saeujeot)
- 2 cups gochugaru (Korean chilli flakes)
- 4 cups radish, cut into matchsticks
- 2 cups carrots, cut into matchsticks
- 15 green onions, chopped
- 1 cup chopped Asian chives
Cook the porridge while the cabbage is resting, because it needs to cool down before you mix is with the vegetables and spices. Combine the water and rice flour in a pot, and cook over medium heat until it starts to bubble. Stir in the sugar. Let it cool completely (we put it in the fridge to speed up this process).
Add the garlic, ginger, onion, fish sauce, fermented shrimp, and gochucharu to the cooled porridge until well combined. Then add the radish, carrots, green onions, and Asian chives to the mixture to create a kimchi paste.
Massage the kimchi paste onto each cabbage leaf. Roll the quarter cabbages up, and you could even use the outer leaf around it to create little pockets. If you prefer convenience, you can cut the cabbage leaves into bite sized pieces before spreading the kimchi paste on it. Place into containers. Leave some room at the top of the containers; otherwise you’ll get home from work to a tableful of kimchi juice. You can eat them right away, or let it ferment at room temperature for a day or two. Then store it in the fridge.