Making Kimchi at Home with Baechu
It would be a lie if I said I’m guarding the secret to making great kimchi. The fact is, I have no secrets when it comes to fermentation – it’s all mother nature’s work…( well technically a type of bacteria called Lactic Acid Bacteria). The bacteria makes fermentation happen but YOU are responsible for the awesome flavour by picking the best ingredients you can find!
A fresh napa cabbage will give a crunchy and refreshing kimchi. Not many of us have much choice when it comes to picking cabbage (ie. I live in Saskatchewan, and I’m pretty strapped when it comes to produce selection in the Winter), but if you do here is what to look for:
Tips for picking Napa Cabbage
- Firmness of cabbage: Touch and feel the cabbage when you pick it from the store. Give it a gentle squeeze. It should feel firm. The leaves should not be mushy and should be firmly attached to the base of the cabbage.
- Colour: It’s obvious that napa cabbage comes in green but which shade of green is the right one? The cabbage stalk should be white and the leaf should have a tint of yellow or pale green. This is a sign that the cabbage grew in cooler weather. Summer cabbage that grows in the hot sun tends to have deeper green and can taste bitter.
- Taste: Your raw cabbage should be sweet and juicy. The sugar in the cabbage will help with the fermentation process.
Picking good cabbage will give your kimchi a nice, crunchy texture. Fresh cabbage will also give out more water during fermentation. This prevents oxygen from getting into the fermentation crock, which can carry harmful pathogens.
Now that you’ve picked the right cabbage, here is an easy version of Kimchi. Note that you don’t have to get all the measurements exact except for the salt content, which has to be at least 4% of the total weight. If you read my article on fermentation, you will know that salt prevents all the bad things from happening to your ferment.
Easy Kimchi by Baechu
(Makes about 2 liters of Kimchi):
5 lb Napa Cabbage (Chinese Cabbage)
½ cup Pickling Salt
1 lb Carrot (Julienned)
½ lb Daikon radish (Julienned)
½ Yellow Onion (Sliced)
½ cup Fresh Chives or Spring onion
¼ cup Ginger (Minced)
½ clove Garlic (Minced)
⅓ cup Korean Chili Pepper Flakes
1 tablespoon Fish sauce (optional)
- Cut cabbage into pieces approximately 2 inches wide.
- Mix cabbage with salt. Make sure the salt is evenly distributed. Transfer salted cabbage to a clean fermentation container. Cover to prevent dust from getting in. Let it sit overnight (6-10 hours). The salt will draw out water from the cabbage.
- Drain the brine that came out of the cabbage. Rinse the cabbage at least three times or until it’s no longer salty.
- Mix garlic, ginger, fish sauce (omit fish sauce for vegan Kimchi), and Korean chilli pepper flakes into a paste.
- Mix the paste and all the vegetables, including the cabbage, in a big bowl. Transfer the mixture to a container to ferment. Add a bit of water to keep the kimchi fully submerged, but leave a few inches at the top to prevent overflowing. Loosely close the lid so that the gas from the fermentation process can escape.
- Keep the container out of direct sunlight and in a cool, dry place for at least 3-5 days, or until it reaches the desired level of acidity.
- Store it in the fridge for up to 1 year.