Fall means two things for me – Football and kimchi! I spent last Sunday watching the Eagles lose (badly…sigh) while making a big batch of kimchi. Most of half time involved drinking beer while slathering red chili paste onto cabbage leaves. I just love Sundays!
Fall is perfect for producing cabbage leaves that are crisp, tight, and firm which makes for the tastiest batch of kimchi. It’s also the ideal temperature for fermenting – not too hot, not too cold.
There are too many varieties of kimchi to count and hundreds of different ways to make it! You ask any korean and they will tell you their kimchi recipe is the best! I found that Maangchi has the best traditional kimchi (Tongbaechu kimchi) recipe out there. It’s easy to follow and of course it is delicious, so I decided to make it and add a few touches along the way.
Here we go! First, you will need napa cabbage. One head makes about 5 pounds of kimchi. I used 2 heads of cabbage for this recipe and no paste was wasted in the making.
I dry brined the cabbage for 2 hours using 1/2 cup of kosher salt. In the meantime I made the paste base according to Maangchi’s instructions. She uses rice flour and brown turbinado sugar to make this base.
Here are the vegetables I cut up which eventually get mixed into the paste base.
Seasonings are then added into the paste base to create the tangy briny taste and rich, red color that kimchi is known for. Maangchi blends garlic, onions, and ginger through the food processor. I also added one fuji apple and asian pear to the processor. I think it adds a sweet touch to the overall flavor. This mix is then added to the paste along with fish sauce, salted shrimp, and red pepper flakes
Once the vegetables and paste are combined, it is generously slathered onto and between every cabbage leaf nook. Make sure to use gloves for this step. Those peppers can burn!
Now we are ready to ferment! Although a traditional Onggi can be used, it is hard to find. I came across this handy fermenting container that has a vaccum lid inside. It’s easy to use, easy to clean, and the seal is perfectly tight for fermenting. I would definitely recommend getting your hands on one of these here at amazon ! I keep my container in the basement where it is dark and cool.
3 days later…….Tadah! Kimchi is now ready to be served!!! Enjoy!