The only special ingredient you need for kimchi is Korean red pepper powder (gochugaru - you'll note that it's not technically a powder, it's more flaky).
You can find it in Korean markets like Hmart or order it online. It's not very expensive and a one-pound bag will last you through many batches of kimchi. If you can't find it Aleppo pepper makes a hotter, more expensive kimchi. Or use paprika for color and cayenne for heat (this is 100% non-traditional of course).
This is a basic recipe, based on the great recipe and How2Heroes video by Alex Lewin. I've modified it down to yield a smaller quantity and I used chives instead of scallions. Try different vegetables and feel free to adjust the heat level (this makes a moderately spicy kimchi) and the amount of garlic and ginger to match your taste.
Yields about 1 pint
- 1 pound Chinese cabbage
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 tennis ball-sized onion
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1" piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup Korean hot pepper powder
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 bunch chives, cut into 1" pieces
Cut the cabbage into strips and then bite-sized pieces. Dissolve the salt into the water and add the cabbage pieces. Let the cabbage rest in the brine for 4-8 hours (overnight is ok).
When the cabbage has finished brining (it will have lost most of its volume), drain the brine off, rinse the cabbage in cold water and squeeze it dry. Put the cabbage into a bowl while you make the pickling paste.
Puree the onion, garlic and ginger in a food processor, adding enough water to make a paste. Add in the sugar and pepper powder and puree. Scrape the paste out the processor and into the bowl with the cabbage. Add the chives. Stir the paste and the cabbage together until they are well combined. Pack firmly into a glass jar and cover loosely with a lid (the cabbage will start to ferment and you want the gases to be able to escape). Alternatively, use a plastic container and cover the surface of the kimchi with a piece of parchment or waxed paper.
Let the kimchi ferment on the counter for 12-24 hours. When it tastes right to you (I like about 16 hours of room-temperature fermentation), but the kimchi into the fridge. Keep it loosely covered as it will continue to ferment.
As the kimchi ages (over several weeks) it will get funkier and more sour. Use the "fresh" kimchi as a condiment on sandwiches or a side dish with grilled meats. The sourer product is great in soups and stirfries. I love using just a little kimchi, finely chopped, in cole slaws.
This Summer, I am chronicling my first CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) experience. My CSA share is from Arrowhead Farm, a farm based in Newburyport, MA. Each week, I am posting about what was in my share and what I'm doing with it. By way of full disclosure, I won my share through a raffle and am not paying for it. However, Arrowhead did not know I was entered in the raffle, and I received no special consideration because of this blog.