Feeling the first chills of November, I was inspired to do a few big batches of ferments. One of the things I love about working with fermentation is that you can make exactly what you need, or have on hand; working to a recipe is less important. Make a lot, make a little – make what you want.
I have been making my own version of kimchi for several years now (mine does not include the traditional fermented fish paste) and I usually make use of my food processor to shred the daikon radishes, carrots and ginger. But the only time I have to do a big batch of ferments these days is when my kids are sleeping…which takes noisy kitchen appliances out of the equation.
So this time everything was chopped, peeled and sliced. It’s going to look a little different and have a different mouthfeel than usual. And I added fewer chili flakes than usual, for my three year old’s sake – though I like it really spicy. I’m making a kimchi unique to this era of my life. I will miss the kimchi of my pre-kid days, but only for a few years. For now I will embrace eating according to the season, thanks to the flexibility of fermentation!
Basic Kimchi Recipe
This is the guideline I use for kimchi, but it’s probably mutated far from a genuine Korean kimchi. You can get more serious about your kimchi if you want to take it further.
One Large Napa Cabbage
One Diakon Radish
10 cm of Ginger
Two Cloves of Garlic
One Tablespoon Chili Flakes (give or take)
One to Three Tablespoons of Raw/Unprocessed Salt
Chop, peel, shred and slice your vegetables as you like. Mince the ginger and garlic. Put it all into a large bowl with the salt – leave out the chili flakes for now.
Massage your kimchi until a there is enough liquid to cover the vegetables when you press them down in the bowl.
This is when you add the chili flakes, mix them in (use a spoon if you’d really like to save your hands from the chili flakes) and begin packing it all into a large jar, or jars. This recipe usually makes about two litres, depending on the size of the cabbage.
Be sure and press the vegetables down so they are submerged by liquid, and place a weight on top (like a Pickle Pebble) to keep them submerged. You can also save a piece of napa cabbage leaf, and use this as a blanket over the kimchi, under your weight. That will keep everything tucked in nicely.
Give the lip of the jar a wipe and then either cover loosely with a lid or use a Pickle Pipe to let gasses escape during fermentation. Keep your jar on a rimmed tray to avoid any messes. Come back in about 5-7 days and then move your kimchi into storage, lid closed.
Your kimchi is ready when you are, as the taste will change with time. Ferments tend to become less salty but more sour with time. Enjoy!