This recipe shows you how to make kimchi using the good ole fashioned brining method, as opposed to the dry-salting method that's commonly used to make sauerkraut. We actually use the dry-salting method for our Katz Kimchi, for a few different reasons but in this recipe we're showing you how to make it the more traditional way!
For kimchi the veg is usually roughly chopped and placed in salty water (roughly 3-9% salt) for a few hours before you make the rest of your kimchi. This helps to draw water out of the veg and hardens pectins in it making sure it stays lovely and crisp during fermentation. It also helps to make sure your veg is well salted so that a slighty salty environment is created which selects for the salt tolerant microbes we want to help grow.
There's also no one exactly right way to make kimchi, it's such a versatile ferment and we'd encourage you to get creative once you've got the basics nailed! More common kimchis include the traditional style with fish sauce or shrimp paste, Gochujang (Korean red chilli paste made with gochugaru, fermented soybeans, rice, sugar, salt), water kimchi which is made without chilli, pear kimchi or golden kimchi made with turmeric. Seeds, nuts and other fruit, veg, herbs or spices can be added to create ferments packing huge tangy flavour punches.
This recipe is for a more traditional style (but vegan) kimchi, if you use Gochugaru like we do here then you might want to add some more chilli powder or chilli flakes if you like heat. Gochugaru is mild-medium hot, with a more smoky flavour than usual chilli powder. Likewise if you can't get hold of gochugaru (we get ours from a local Asian shop, but you can find it online too) any red chilli powder or flakes will do.
As with sauerkraut-making remember the 4 key rules to success: Shred, Salt, Pound, Pack! And if you want to watch Arthur teach you how to make this recipe click here!
Recipe - makes around 1kg
White cabbage, shredded x 300g (save an outer cabbage leaf as you'll need this for packaging!)
Chinese cabbage or pak choi, chopped x 300g
Carrot, thinly sliced x 150g
Mooli (daikon) or radish x 150g
Spring onions, thinly sliced x 2
Garlic, peeled and crushed x 2 cloves
Ginger, peeled and crushed x thumb-sized piece
Gochugaru or chilli powder/flakes x 18g
Salt (we use sea salt but table works just fine!) x 100g
Water x 2 litres
Large mixing bowl
Wide-mouth glass jar (to fit roughly 1kg or 1L)
A few hours before you're going to make the kimchi (we usually do this 5-6 hours before but a couple of hours to overnight is also fine) pour the water into a large mixing bowl, add the salt and stir to dissolve. This makes a 5% brine which we've found works well.
SHRED & SALT: Add the white cabbage, Chinese cabbage, carrots and mooli to the salty brine and make sure the veg is submerged before leaving it to soak.
POUND: When your veg has soaked enough drain off the brine (you can save this to make brined veg if you like!) and add the spring onion, garlic, ginger and Gochugaru to the veg and mix well. We like to use our hands so we get up-close and personal with our food but anything you can use to mash the veg is fine too (the end of a rolling pin works well!).
Massage the veg for several minutes really squashing the veg to mix the flavours into every piece. Keep pounding the veg until you can take a handful of the veg and when you squeeze it liquid pours out. This is how you know it's ready to pack!
PACK: place a handful of veggies into your clean jar at a time and push down so that they’re in there tight – this makes sure there’s no air bubbles as they need an oxygen free (anaerobic) environment to thrive. When you’re about 2 inches from the top stop. Pour any excess liquid in to cover the veg, this should leave around an inch at the top of the jar. Tear off a portion of the outer cabbage leaves you left to one side and push down on top of your ferment to act as an inner seal.
Cap your jar and leave on your counter top out of direct sunlight. After a couple of days you should notice the veg expanding (hence leaving some space at the top!) and even bubbling!
Some folks like to leave their veg for just a few days, some for longer (for kimchi we like a couple of weeks). Either is fine, as long as when you taste it and like it you pop it in the fridge to slow fermentation right down. So make sure you're tasting regularly!
To make sure you care for your ferment just as you would for a wee puppy check out our video on Kraut & Kimchi TLC!