Wednesday, February 12, 2014

kimchi! (also known around The Manor as "kymberchi"!!!)

we love kimchi. it not only tastes great, punches you in the head with it's kick, and is terrifically wonderful for your stomach flora - it just feels good to eat! kimchi is a traditional dish that koreans eat a ton of, and they eat it with every meal. there are a million different kinds of kimchi, which is simply fermented veggies, but i am providing a traditional kimchi that my korean teacher taught me many moons ago when i was on my korean language training.

this type of kimchi is normally prepared in a ceramic crock and then buried underground for a minimum of 3 months to ferment. sounds crazy but if you have ever had "proper", buried-in-a-crock kimchi - oh man there is nothing like it! and my friend Harry can attest to the fact that if you spill it - there is no smell like it on earth! but man is it deelish!

anyway - when my korean teacher left korea and came to canada with her husband and children - she quickly figured out that she needed to make kimchi regularly for her family as there was no where to buy it (that has since changed! i am glad to say that ottawa has several korean stores and markets and we were able to get really good kimchi all of the years that we lived in ottawa). anyway, i digress. here is the kimchi recipe that my korean teacher taught me. this stuff is awesome!

first off - here's your ingredients: 2 nappa cabbages, several small daikon radishes (or one big one), coarse sea salt (do not use table salt!), korean red pepper flakes, a quarter cup of thai fish sauce (i use 2 of my home-made concentrated fish ice cubes), as many green onions as you like (i like a lot of them in the kimchi), a whole clove of garlic and a big knob of ginger.

cut the bottoms off of your nappa cabbage and then peel each leaf. trim any bad spots. fill a big pot, crock, or as i use, a cleaned and washed cooler. add a cup of coarse sea salt and about a gallon of water. stir the water until the salt has dissolved. place all of your trimmed leaves in the water. use something to make sure that your leaves stay submerged in the salt brine - i use bottles filled with water. 

put your container in a cool, dark place for about 3 hours.

next up - grate your daikon radish. this kimchi is so spicy because the daikon radishes were grown in our garden.

crush all of your cloves of garlic, and your ginger, using a garlic press into a big bowl.

add the grated daikon radish, cup of red pepper flakes and fish sauce.


rinse all of your cabbage leaves and green onion. rinse them 2 or three times. then wrap them in paper towel and a cotton towel - you want the cabbage leaves to be incredibly dry.


make sure to wear rubber gloves as the red pepper flakes burn. trust me. and don't wipe your eyes or nose. trust me.

 take each piece of cabbage and rub it with the sauce. rub it into all of the grooves of the cabbage both front and back. you will feel the cabbage leaf start to wilt. that's good. when the leaf is covered both front and back, fold it up and put it in your glass jar.

keep adding leaves and while doing so, press down as hard as you can so that the leaves start releasing their liquid. you will think that the jar is full and then realize that it is only half-full. you can fit a lot of cabbage leaves folded up like this in a jar.

 leave about a quarter inch of headspace at the top of the jar. keep pressing down on the cabbage as it will continue to shrink down. when you are pretty sure that your jar is full - cap it and put it somewhere cool and dark. i put ours under the bed.

every few hours, shake the jars. really shake them. you will notice that a liquid has now formed and that the cabbage has shrunk down. that's the fermentation part and that is a good thing. if you see bubbles - that's good too. you can let your jar ferment up to a week but i never last past 3 days. once you have decided to end your fermentation phase, put your jar(s) in the fridge. enjoy with every meal. this recipe isn't the crock recipe - if using a crock and the proper crock recipe - the kimchi will keep for a year or longer. this kimchi recipe will keep for about a month in the fridge.

give it a try. it certainly is an acquired taste - but if you acquire a taste for it - you'll want it all the time. i love kimchi!

here's a nice breakfast - zucchini/carrot fritters with sour cream and you guessed it - kimchi! it was awesome!


i hope that you enjoyed this tutorial and hope that you'll make your own kimchi too! it really is good for you!


  1. kymber, I had some real? kimchee when I was in Georgia with the Army and while I loved the taste I seemed to develop a rash from sweating out the spices. Can you use basic red pepper flakes in the recipe?
    My fish sauce is from Thailand and can you use bok choy cabbage, will that make a difference?

  2. jamie - the only reason i can think of for your developing a rash is that your body wasn't used to so much spice and garlic. what i would suggest is that if you buy some, just have a tiny piece with a meal until you get used to it. if you do that, you'll probably end up like me and be eating forkfuls of it out of the jar in the middle of the night - bahahahahah! your thai fish sauce will be perfect in the kimchi and yes you can definitely use bok choi which for the life of me, i can't get around here so plan to grow some this summer. as for the red pepper flakes - don't kill me if i am wrong - but i do think it would work, i have just never heard of it before. but the pepper flakes still have dried skin on them and the korean pepper powder is just crushed up hot peppers. i think it could work.

    if i were you, i would make a tiny jar to start. you can follow my recipe for making the paste, you won't use it all if you only make a small jar of kimchi, but the paste will last for months in the fridge. my jambaloney uses leftover kimchi paste on all kinds of stuff. so try a small jar first, see how you like it and if you don't like the hot kimchi paste on other food, find a friend who likes hot sauce and spicy things and give the kimchi paste to them.

    good luck jamie - and let me know if you have any other questions!

  3. kymber, It couldn't be the garlic as I follow the Erma Bombeck rules for cooking. "If you can't garlic add chocolate and if you can't add chocolate add garlic."

    Also never eat beef in a country that doesn't have cowboys or vaqueros.

    I think it might have been a reaction to the Asian peppers as I do like spicy foods but the peppers I use tend to be from the western hemisphere.

    I loved the taste of Kim chee.It just didn't seem to like me much.

    One of my goals this year is to start making my own fermented veggies and I want to start with Kim chee and Sauerkraut.