Making kimchi is simple but requires a little time, patience and scrupulously clean implements. You want to culture the good bacteria, not the kind that makes you sick! Before even thinking about chopping the vegetables, sterilise your pickling vessel. An old fashioned crock is ideal but a big glass jar also works well.
If you’re not a hot chili fan, then cut way back on the quantity or use large, mild chilies. It’s the fermented vegetables, not the heat, that make kimchi both a prebiotic and probiotic food.
2800 mls water (preferably filtered)
1 cup fine sea salt (not iodized)
Stir these together until the salt has dissolved. If you’ve not used fine sea salt you may need to dissolve in a pan over low heat.
1 large cabbage (ideally wombok but if using regular green discard any thick spines), washed and roughly chopped
1 bunch of bok choy (or another type of cabbage), roughly chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and sliced
Daikon (optional), peeled and sliced
Spring onions, roughly chopped
200 gm root ginger, peeled and grated or finely chopped
6-12 hot chilies (or long, less hot ones if you don’t like heat), chopped
6 -12 cloves of garlic, chopped
4 -5 brown shallots or 1 medium brown onion
1 tablespoon of dried, ground chill (I found ground Korean red peppers at an Asian grocer)
Make the brine.
Prepare the vegetables. (There’s a lot of chopping so put on some good music and sharpen your knife.) Most commercial kimchi is cut to mouth-size chunks rather than finely shredded.
Pack the vegetables into a non-reactive, large jar (or jars) and cover with brine. Push the vegetables down with a heavy weight. (A freezer bag full of brine will work. Due to osmosis it’s important to use brine not water and don’t forget to securely tie the top)
Blend the spice paste ingredients except the dried chili, until combined. Add a little brine if necessary. Stir in the dried chili and store in a sealed jar.
Leave the vegetable mix and jar of spice paste at room temperature overnight.
The next day:
Drain the brine from the vegetables. You can refrigerate and recycle the brine for your next batch if desired.
Taste the vegetables. They should be salty but not unbearably so. It too salty, give them a quick rinse in cold water and drain.
In a large bowl mix the vegetables and flavour paste together. The most effective way do this is to wash your hands then mix them manually – you want to massage the spices into the vegetables. (If you’ve got any cuts on your hands, use disposable gloves.)
Pack the spiced vegetables into sterilised jars with well-fitting lids and refrigerate. Kimchi needs at least 4 or 5 days to ferment. This means it will be slightly bubbly.
I usually leave mine for a week before eating. Make sure when you take some out of the jar that there’s still a little brine covering the top of the remaining kimchi, or it may go moldy. Kimchi keeps for at least a month if covered and refrigerated.
Kimchi is vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free and is fantastic for digestive health.
If you’d like an original recipe in your mailbox each month, sign up for the free newsletter.