When I first heard of kimchi I dismissed the idea of eating rotten cabbage. But since my daughter moved to Japan and convinced me to try it I have re-assessed my view of this wonderful Korean staple. I am now hooked.
So why not try making it? I have used and adapted the Lucky Peach recipe several times since I first saw it about a year ago.
We didn’t grow cabbage in the garden this year – I will plant some next year for sure. A recent trip to the Locke Street farmers market provided me with a nice one. Silly me, I put the cabbage in the fridge and forgot about it for a while. When I pulled it out, shrunken and impressively gnarly, I figured it was probably halfway to kimchi anyway so why not continue?
Step one is to chop and salt the cabbage overnight, using a salt and sugar mixture.
Next day, combine chopped garlic, ginger (I did the ginger on the microplane as an experiment – easier than chopping), carrot, and scallions with the drained salted cabbage. Then add ¼ cup each of simple syrup, soy sauce, and rice wine vinegar (I added a little mirin as another experiment). Mix well and store in the fridge for two to three weeks before eating – the longer the better. Turn the jar every few days for good measure (I usually forget this step or do it sporadically).
I store my kimchi in a mason jar, since I haven’t yet found a suitable crock at the local flea markets or antique stores. Once I have a crock I will try the traditional method of burying it in the garden. (Do they have raccoons in Korea?) Apparently it is not recommended to bury fermenting kimchi in a glass jar – it might explode. (But why doesn’t it explode in the fridge while fermenting?) Below is the contrast of ready to eat and newly made kimchi.