Kimchi, like other things in life, gets better with age. Whilst you do need patience when making it as it does take time to ferment, it's relatively effortless to make. I've tried not to deviate my recipe from what I believe is the most common version, although I have factored in how tricky it can me to get daikon (large white radishes) and so have used the red radish instead. Daikon is milder than the red radishes in UK supermarkets although I think kimchi is punchy enough to handle it. As mentioned with my Korean Baked Chicken recipe, you can get gochugaru online if you can't find a specialist shop which stocks it.
Here's a recipe for a bowl of comforting kimchi fried rice you can make using any you have stored in your fridge.
Makes approx 1kg
Hands-on Time 20 minutes (plus overnight to brine)
Fermentation time 1-2 weeks
1 Chinese cabbage
1.5L Filtered or bottle water
125g Coarse sea salt
6 Garlic cloves
Root ginger, thumb-sized amount
4 Spring onions
40ml Fish sauce
1 tbsp Caster sugar
2 Large mixing bowls
Disposable gloves (optional but recommended)
1.5L Jar or container
Sealable food bag
2x500ml Jars with lids
Remove an outer leaf from the cabbage and set aside.
Cut the cabbage in half length-ways.
Pour the water into a large mixing bowl and add the salt. Stir with a spoon until dissolved.
Add the cabbage including the leaf you set aside to the salt water and submerge ensuring any trapped air is released.
Place a plate on top of the cabbage to stop it popping back out of the water.
Leave the cabbage to sit in the brine overnight. Do not sit the bowl in direct sunlight.
When you’re ready to make the kimchi, remove the cabbage from the brine and leave to dry on kitchen paper. Do not discard the brine.
Add the garlic, ginger, and radishes to the food processor and pulse until you have a coarse mixture.
Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl.
Finely slice the spring onion and add to the bowl along with the gochugaru, fish sauce, and sugar.
Combine using a spatula.
Set the individual cabbage leaf aside. You have two options as to how you handle the cabbage halves. You can keep them intact or chop up into large chunks. If you prefer to go with the first option, I really do recommend disposable gloves for the next part.
You need to coat every part of the cabbage with the paste. If you have chopped the cabbage up add it all to the bowl and combine using the spatula. If you have kept the cabbage whole it’s best to spread some of the paste over each leaf by hand.
Transfer the contents of the bowl to the large jar. Using a spoon, press the mixture down ensuring there is no trapped air or too much liquid on the bottom.
Place the leaf you set aside on top and press down. Try and cover everything using it like a lid.
If the mixture is a little dry, pour half a cup or so of the brine on top.
Fill a food bag with water, removing any trapped air before sealing it.
Place this into the jar to act as a weight.
Put the jar away into a cupboard for at least 1 week to ferment.
After the first week is up, carefully remove the bag and try some of the cabbage. If you are happy with the taste, you can transfer the kimchi to smaller jars for use, otherwise return the bag and leave to ferment for up to another week.
When you’re happy with the taste of the kimchi, prepare your jars.
Transfer the mix to the jars. Again press down with a spoon to remove and trapped air from the bottom before sealing.
Store the sealed jars in the fridge where they should keep for at least 6 months. I’ll be surprised if you can make them last that long.