I am guest posting again today. (My last post was a guest post at Rasa Malaysia.) This time it’s at Smoky Wok, Easy Asian Homecooking Recipes, authored by Jasmine, who’s not only an amazing blogger, but also a professional food stylist, recipe designer and food photographer. I’ve been a huge admirer of Jasmine’s blog for a long time, and it’s an incredible honor for me to be guest posting on her beautiful blog. Make sure to head over to Smoky Wok (formerly Tastes of Home) to meet Jasmine, who blogs from Malaysia, and check out all her delicious recipes and gorgeous photos as well. She has such a passion for Korean food, and her blog shows a very impressive spread of Korean recipes. I thought a kimchi recipe would be nice to go with her Korean dishes. So, I decided to share my recipe on how to make traditional napa cabbage kimchi, (aka poggi kimchi).
I probably don’t need to tell you that kimchi is the best-known Korean dish and Koreans eat kimchi literally everyday with every meal. Kimchi is basically a catch-all Korean term for fermented vegetables. There are hundreds of kimchi varieties in Korea. The napa cabbage kimchi is the most common variety. As I mentioned in my kkakdugi recipe, kimchi tastes vary widely, depending on the types, quality, and ratio of the seasoning ingredients. Every household has its own methods. Making better kimchi is a frequent conversation subject when my middle-aged Korean friends get together. Various jeotgal (salted seafood) are used in kimchi for the distinct pungency and depth of flavors and to aid the fermentation process. Saeujeot (salted shrimp) and myulchiaekjeot (fish sauce made with anchovies) are the two that are most commonly used. I usually make kimchi with 5 – 10 cabbages at a time. Why so much? Besides the fact that we Koreans eat kimchi everyday, I am a typical Korean mom who makes a massive amount of kimchi to supply to my grown-up children. Both my mother and mother-in-law did that for us for a long time, so I am definitely continuing the tradition. Also, my family loves every dish made with well-fermented kimchi, such as kimchi jjigae, kimchi mandu, kimchi bibimguksu, kimchi fried rice, kimchi jeon, tofu kimchi, etc. To help you start making kimchi at home, I came up with a recipe using one napa cabbage. Through this recipe, I hope you’ll find that it’s really not that difficult to make good kimchi at home. Enjoy!
1 large napa cabbage (about 5 to 6 pounds), or 2 small (about 3 pounds each)
1 cup Korean coarse sea salt for making kimchi
5 cups of water
1 pound Korean radish (mu/moo)
1/4 Asian pear (optional)
3 – 4 scallions
1 tablespoon glutinous rice powder*
(*Mix it with 1/2 cup water, simmer over low heat until it
thickens to a thin paste and cool. Yields about 3 – 4 tablespoons.)
1/2 cup Korean red chili pepper flakes, gochugaru (adjust to your taste)
1/4 cup saeujeot (salted shrimp), finely minced
3 – 4 raw shrimp (about 2 ounces), finely minced or ground
3 tablespoons myulchiaekjeot (fish sauce)
3 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon sesame seeds (optional)
1/2 cup water
2 large bowls or pots (7 – 8 quarts)
a large colander
3/4 – 1 gallon airtight container or jar
Cut the cabbage lengthwise into quarters. (This step is usually done by cutting the stem end in half only about 3 – 4 inches in. Then, slowly pull apart to separate into two pieces by hand. Do the same for each half to make quarters. Running the knife through all the way would unnecessarily cut off the cabbage leaves.)
In a large bowl, dissolve 1/2 cup of salt in 5 cups of water. Thoroughly bathe each cabbage quarter in the saltwater one at a time, shake off excess water back into the bowl, and then transfer to another bowl.
Using the other half cup of salt and starting from the outermost leaf, generously sprinkle salt over the thick white part of each leaf (similar to salting a piece of meat). Try to salt all the cabbage quarters with 1/2 cup salt, but you can use a little more if needed. Repeat with the rest of the cabbage quarters. Pour the remaining salt water from the first bowl over the cabbage. Set aside for about 6 – 8 hours, rotating the bottom ones to the top every 2 – 3 hours.
The cabbages should be ready to be washed when the white parts are easily bendable. Rinse thoroughly 3 times, especially between the white parts of the leaves. Drain well, cut side down.
Meanwhile, make the glutinous rice paste and cool. Prepare the other seasoning ingredients. Mix all the seasoning ingredients, including the rice paste and water, well. Set aside while preparing the other ingredients in order for the red pepper flakes to dissolve slightly and become pasty.
Cut the radish and optional pear into match sticks (use a mandoline if available). Cut scallions into 1-inch long pieces. Transfer to a large bowl and combine with the seasoning mix. Mix well by hand. Taste a little bit. It should be a little too salty to eat as is.Add salt, more salted shrimp or fish sauce, if necessary. If possible, let it sit for 30 minutes to an hour to allow the flavors meld nicely.
Cut off the tough stem part from each cabbage quarter, leaving enough to hold the leaves together. Place one cabbage quarter in the bowl with the radish mix. Spread the radish mix over each leaf, one to two tablespoons for large leaves. (Eyeball the stuffing into 4 parts and use one part for each cabbage quarter.)
Fold the leaf part of the cabbage over toward the stem and nicely wrap with the outermost leaf before placing it, cut side up, in a jar or airtight container. Repeat with the remaining cabbages.Once all the cabbages are in the jar or airtight container, press down hard to remove air pockets. Rinse the bowl that contained the radish mix with 1/2 cup of water and pour over the kimchi.
Leave it out at room temperature for a full day or two, depending on how fast you want your kimchi to ripe. Then, store in the fridge. Although you can start eating it any time, kimchi needs about two weeks in the fridge to fully develop the flavors. It maintains great flavor and texture for several weeks.