I left my latest batch of kimchi to ferment for an extra day (six in total) and what a difference it made. Days one to five saw little change during my regular inspections but I got sprayed when I opened the lid on day six; annoying but exciting! The brine was bubbling away, nearly overflowing and the kimchi tasted deliciously sour.
For this batch I used 2 tablespoons of gochugaru (no sriracha, see notes) and the colour of the kimchi was a much more intense red than the colour shown in the photo.
One of my favourite writers, Morgan Housel, believes that you should write for yourself; a sentiment I’m fully on board with. This recipe will never rank highly in Google or develop any traction on social media but if I have to wade through another barrage of page-obscuring cookie disclaimers, newsletter pop ups and auto-playing videos when I just want to find a kimchi recipe on my ancient iPhone, I’ll cry1. Incidentally, have you heard of Just The Recipe2?
1 I know we have ads on this site but we’ve deliberately turned off auto ads, which plonks ads all over the place. Ads help to pay for our somewhat overengineered hosting set up3 but we’ve made sure that they don’t get in the way of the ingredients and method.
2 It doesn’t work for our website yet but it will soon.
3 NextJS/Node running alongside NGINX within Docker.
Why so many footnotes? I’m currently reading House of Leaves and it must have rubbed off on me.
- The amount of time the kimchi is left to ferment at room temperature varies wildly depending on who you ask and the climate you live in. Taste the kimchi daily and go from there. I leave mine (in our usually cool British climate) to ferment for around
four to five days(six, see update) before putting it into the fridge.
- I don’t weigh my kimchi down with anything. Instead I open the jar daily, check the contents and press the vegetables into the brine. To date, I haven't had to deal with mould.
- The kimchi should ideally live in the fridge for two weeks before it’s eaten to allow the flavours to develop. I can never wait that long.
- The jar that the kimchi will ferment in needs to be completely clean. Nigella considers a jar sterilised once it’s come out of the dishwasher, some people microwave a wet jar for 45 seconds and others boil their jars.
- Most recipes only salt and soak the cabbage rather than all of the veg.
- You don’t have to use gochugaru (Korean chilli powder) and sriracha/gochujang (Korean chilli paste) - one or the other is fine. Using gochugaru will result in a more intense red colour especially if you use ground chilli rather than chilli flakes.
Makes: around 1 litre
- 1 Chinese leaf cabbage
- 4 tbsp non-iodized salt
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 inch chunk of ginger, peeled
- 2½ tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp gochugaru (Korean chilli powder)
- 1½ tbsp sriracha (or gochujang)
- 2 heaped tsp sugar (I use golden caster)
- 4½ tbsp rice vinegar
- 3 spring onions (or 1 large shallot)
- 1 large carrot
- 20 small radishes
You will need
- a 1 litre jar (I use Ikea Korken)
- Cabbage: Cut 1 Chinese leaf cabbage into quarters and remove the stem. Chop the remaining cabbage into 1” pieces and place into a large bowl (I use a 3 litre bowl).
- Massage 4 tablespoons of non-iodized salt into the cabbage. Fill the bowl with water (around 2 litres), put a clean plate on top to submerge the cabbage and let it soak for 2-5 hours. Drain the cabbage into a colander and rinse well.
- Chilli paste: Finely chop 3 garlic cloves and a 1 inch chunk of peeled ginger. Add to a small bowl along with 2½ tablespoons of fish sauce, 1 tablespoon of gochugaru, 1½ tablespoons of sriracha (or gochujang), 2 heaped teaspoons of sugar and 4½ tablespoons of rice vinegar. Mix well.
- Kimchi: Finely slice 3 spring onions, cut 1 large carrot into matchsticks (or grate it) and slice 20 small radishes. Add to a large bowl with the drained cabbage and the chilli paste. Mix well making sure that the chilli paste evenly coats the vegetables (I use a fork but most people use their hands).
- Transfer the kimchi to a clean jar (I use a 1 litre Ikea Korken jar) and press the vegetables down so that they’re submerged in the liquid. Place the jar onto a plate to catch any brine if it overflows and open the jar daily to check and taste the kimchi. Once you’re happy with the taste, put the jar into the fridge where it will keep for months. If the kimchi will be left in the fridge for a while, it's important to open the lid once in a week to let any built up gases escape.