kimchi is made by lacto-fermentation of vegetables, the same process that creates sauerkraut and traditional dill cucumber/tomatoes pickles. In the first stage, the cabbage is soaked in a salty solution that kills off harmful bacteria. In the second stage, the remaining Lactobacillus bacteria (the great one) convert sugars into lactic acid, which preserves the vegetables and gives them that wonderful, tangy flavor. (If you want to learn more about fermentation, I recommend the site nicrunicuit.fr)
The traditional coreean recipe of kimchi is richer than mine. But I did it my style: easy and fast and most important is cheap.
It means that you and your family can make kimchi your own, as me. Rely on your own sense of smell and taste and you’ll end up with a fine batch.
So, what I did:
-take a big cabbage (or 2 smaller), any cabbage. I did first with Asian cabbage but the regular cabbages are great too. For 2 big jars I need around 1,2 -> 1, 5kg cabbage
-4-5 greens onion (scallions) or more, and some garlic. Not too much garlic 🙂 so I use only 3-5 cloves.
-2 asian radishes. But this springtime I used some small red one and during the winter 2 small red betroots and that was the best version!!
-ginger root, the dimension of my 2 fingers, peeled and minced.
-hot pepper powder. I didn’t have so I added some red hot peppers, cut very small, and that’s it. First I used 2 red peppers, was great, next time I exaggerated with 10 red peppers – was great but I ate slower as usual 😀 , so probably I will use only 4-5 🙂
-salt for pickles, around 4-5 spoons. Sea salt is great, not one with chemicals (free of iodine and anti-caking agents, which can inhibit fermentation)). Kusher salt is best. The salt is the key ingredient. I could add more, after testing the cabbage.
-an apple (to replace the usual sugar recommended)
-is not mandatory but it is great to add 2-3 large carrots peeled, thinly julienned, specially where is not red beetroot (for colour).
I cut the cabbage (robot rules), add salt and toss ans squise with the hands 2-3 minutes. Because of the pression and of the salt some water is produce. Let to stay for several hours under the pression of a plate.
Cut the onions, radishes (or red beetroots), apple on the robot too. Add on top of the cabbage.
Mince the garlic with hot peppers and ginger, on robot, until are almost like a paste. Add on top of all and mix.
Put on clean jars (reused, of course 🙂 ) and press with the hand until there is not too much air. Add the little water that cabbage let it away because of the salt and pressure. If there is not enough water, add some distilled (not with chlorinated water because can inhibit fermentation)
From this amount of ingredients I produce 2 jars of 1l and still have a little extra, that I ate as a spicy salad 🙂
Keep several days in a warm place (kitchen) – on the winter I keep for 5 days, now is around 23-25degrees so I keep only for 3 days, until start to see the fermentations: small bubbles inside the jar, then put the jars in the fridge – or eat. Because I use cabbage cut small on the kitchen robot, the fermentation is going faster.
Some keep for 6 months, but not me, I prefer to do another another bunch next month. Every time there is another proportion, another flavour so I love it.
Total time spend: around 15min to cut all, 5 min to the final mix, to fill the jars and close it, and I have 2 big jars for several weeks.
Costs: less than 3 euro, because scallions and and ginger are from my garden.