Hey kimchi lovers!!! Do you have friends that are vegan or gluten intolerant? Yes. And do you think it stinks that they can’t enjoy the same pungent, robust, punch of flavor that only kimchi can give? Yeah, totally not fair!! Than get pumped because Vegan and Gluten Free Kimchi tastes just as awesome and funky as traditional kimchi without any of the seafood or gluten!
To start, I had to think through my kimchi making process and ask myself, did an animal have to work or was it sacrificed to make this ingredient? If so, then no way is it vegetarian or vegan. Fish sauce and fermented baby shrimp, you’re out. The downside of excluding these two ingredients is the big umami blast you taste when eating kimchi. They provide that tangy, extremely rich and salty flavor very unique to kimchi. But no worries friends, I found a great substitute while skimming my two favorite books.
Both of these authors mentioned using a mushroom broth to make kimchi vegan. So, that’s what I did! This is just one of many cool tips you can find here. So if you want to nerd out on kimchi and fermentation go get these books! You won’t be disappointed.
As for the Gluten containing ingredients I did my homework and NO, there is no gluten in sweet rice flour. Yasssss!! Why celebrate you ask? well, the rice flour makes that syrupy paste that is SO important in holding the kimchi seasoning onto the cabbage like glue. Without it, the seasoning slides right off….and that’s sad. So, sweet rice flour is still in. However, did you know that there is gluten in Soy Sauce!? Yeah, I know, I had no idea! I thought the soy sauce could replace the saltiness of the fish sauce and shrimp. Well, that’s out, but have no fear… Tamari is here! Tamari is a gluten free soy sauce that is a bit less salty but equally rich in flavor. These two substitutions, the mushroom broth and Tamari made all the difference!
Ok, now that we have our vegan and gluten free ingredients let’s do this!
Step One: BRINE
This step is the same, no matter what kimchi you’re making. I decided to cut the cabbage into bite-size squares before the salt was sprinkled. This is known as Nabak style. If you don’t prefer to pre cut, quarter the cabbage and sprinkle the salt between each layer. There is no right or wrong way! I would recommend sea salt, no table salt in this step. Sprinkle it and let it do it’s thing for an hour and a half. Then rinse the heck out of it.
Step Two: MUSHROOM BROTH
You guys, this broth is magic. Even if you’re not vegan, this broth is magic. The Shiitake mushrooms and seaweed Kombu create a really earthy, salty flavor. Boil and simmer for thirty minutes. This mushroom broth will bring depth and balance to this vegan and gluten free kimchi!
Step Three: RICE FLOUR PASTE
Mochiko sweet rice flour makes a glutinous, thick porridge without any of the gluten! Water, flour, and Turbinado sugar in the raw is all it takes.
Step Four: PREP VEGGIES/FRUIT
My mini mandoline is my BFF when I make kimchi. It saves so much time and my veggies are so evenly pretty. I know, it’s not a must but if you have one, go rummage through your kitchen supplies and find it. Slice Daikon radish, carrots, asian pear and set aside. Chop scallions and buchu (asian chives). The later is optional.
Step Five: MAKE THE SEASONING
Now the fun part, combine stuff to make the final seasoning. Onion, garlic, ginger, asian pear, apples, and Gochu red chili peppers are pulsed together in a food processor. The Gochu red pepper is optional but I like the fresh heat and brightness it adds here. Empty into a large bowl and mix in the rice flour paste. The one thing that is NOT optional is Gochugaru. Gochugaru gives kimchi its deep red color and makes it red hot. So, add Gochugaru, mushroom broth, and Tamari to the bowl…..and voila! Seasoning is done!!!!
Step Six: FERMENTATION
You’re almost there! The prepped, matchstick veggies are added to the thick red seasoning paste. Then the Nabak cabbage goes in. Grab your disposable gloves and give everything a good massage. After the cabbage takes on the beautiful deep red color I pack it tightly into my plastic fermentation container. Let’s take a moment here to talk about this container. I loooove this container. You can easily find one at your local asian market or buy one on amazon. It’s easy to clean and easy to use, and really seals in the glorious funk. The inner plate guarantees a vacuum seal so kimchi can do its fermenting thing undisturbed.
Kimchi sits alone in the dark basement for 3 days but I go visit it everyday. I take a sniff and peek through the clear plastic. On the third day I see bubbles! These bubbles mean fermentation is in full swing. CO2 gases are being released and lactic acid is being produced. This is the best time to eat it and store it. The kimchi will continue to ferment and constantly change in acidity and texture over time. In the end, there is no wrong time to eat this beauty.
So, take a taste, what do you think? Tangy, spicy, salty! It has it all, right? This Vegan and Gluten free kimchi doesn’t skimp on any flavor. So, share this with everyone you know! Your Vegan and Gluten free friends will especially be happy! Remember, a kimchi belly is a happy belly!
- 1 Napa Cabbage
- ¼ cup sea salt
- 4 Shiitake mushrooms, cut in half
- 1 Kombu sheet (5x7in)
- 2 cups H2O
- 1 Tbsp Mochiko sweet rice flour
- 1 Tbsp Turbinado sugar
- 1 cup H2O
- 1 cup Daikon radish, matchstick
- ½ cup carrots, matchstick
- 4 scallions, cut into 1 inch slices
- ½ cup asian chives, Buchu (optional)
- ¼ asian pear, matchstick
- 12 cloves garlic
- ½ onion
- Ginger, 1 inch, remove peel
- ½ apple (Fuji, Honeycrisp)
- ¼ asian pear
- 2 Red chili peppers (Gochu peppers)
- 3 Tbsp Tamari
- 1 cup Gochugaru
- Quarter the cabbage head, then slice each quarter into square bite size pieces, Nabak style. Place into large shallow bowl and sprinkle with ¼ cup sea salt
- Gently turn cabbage pieces every 30 minutes for a total time of 1 hour, 30 minutes. After total time, rinse well under cold water (3-4 times) to remove salt. Allow to drain well.
- In the meantime, make mushroom broth by adding mushrooms and Kombu seaweed to water and bring to boil. Then simmer for 30 minutes. Then discard solids and reserve ½ cup mushroom stock
- Make rice flour paste by adding Mochiko flour to water and bring to gentle simmer (approx 3 minutes) while continuously whisking. Remove from heat and add sugar. Allow to fully cool
- Slice vegetables into matchsticks - daikon radish, carrots, scallions, asian chives, asian pear. Then set aside in bowl
- In food processor add garlic, onions, Gochu peppers (optional), ginger, apples, pear, and Tamari and pulse until well combined
- Place contents of food processor into large bowl and to it add rice flour paste,1/2 cup mushroom broth, and Gochugaru. Mix well.
- To this add cabbage and matchstick vegetables and massage using DISPOSABLE GLOVES, fully coating all the vegetables in spicy red paste.
- Pack tightly into fermentation container, airtight seal, and place in cool place for 3 full days
- After 3 days of fermenting, immediately enjoy and store in refrigerator for up to 6 months!