It's 2012! A new year! Out with the old, and in with the new. I decided to use up the 2 month-old kimchi in the fridge (scrummy stew recipe coming up), and to replace that, I made a new batch of this "Korean sauerkraut". It's quite different though, I would say, you can think of it as sauerkraut with a kick. Sour, spicy,just delicious, oh and also incredibly healthy, even arguably the Koreans' secret to longevity.
I've made kimchi before, but I don't think it was the best it could be. It is very simple though, so if you want a no-faff, passable kimchi recipe, you may still like it. This new one is inspired by Maangchi and many other Korean youtube videos, made with grated pear instead of sugar, and with an extra step of making a "porridge". This is still considered an easy version i.e. mak kimchi, the traditional one uses the whole cabbage. You don't have to use napa cabbage, I've tried it before with your normal white cabbage, works brilliantly too.
Better Homemade Kimchi
2 small/medium (about 2kg) napa cabbage i.e. chinese leaf lettuce
1/2 cup unrefined sea salt
1/4 cup sweet rice flour i.e. glutinous rice flour
1 cup water
1/2 cup fish sauce
1 cup of Korean hot chilli pepper flakes
4 cloves garlic, minced
1" piece ginger, minced
1 large onion, minced
1 pear, peeled and grated
1 carrot, shredded
1 bunch spring onions, shredded
(Whatever you like that's in season. I've added shredded beetroot before too. You can even add raw oysters/ squid etc. for a deluxe version.)
1. Chop cabbage up into bite-sized pieces.
2. Soak in cold water for about 5-10 min. Drain, sprinkle the salt over evenly. Leave it for 1 1/2 hours, but turn about 2-3 times through to salt evenly. By then, the cabbage would have sweat and reduced in volume by quite a lot. Rinse 3 times.
3. Meanwhile, make your spice porridge. Add rice flour to water and bring to a simmer, keep stirring. Remove from heat, and when cool, add the rest of the ingredients to the rice paste.
4. Combine the cabbage, add-ons, and spice porridge. Get your largest mixing bowl and mix well.
5. Press into an airtight, sealable container, and wait.
6. About 2 days later, you'll see bubbles and it will smell slightly sour (in a nice way), that's when you can transfer it to the fridge, where you can try some 2 days later, or let it stay for a months even, depending on how mature you like it. (Note: Every time you take a bit out, be sure to press the kimchi below the kimchi juices.)
See bubbles? There will also be significantly more "juice".
I love kimchi, it's spicy sour tang instantly whets your appetite, and it makes an easy side to grilled meat/fish or even plain rice, or for the older ones, I add it to stews, or even just batter it to make kimchi fritters, yum. Because I like my kimchi really mature, I can only say for sure if it's better than version one a month or so later, but I've sneaked bites (it's been a couple of weeks) and already I like it.
Is this the best possible kimchi? Of course not, Koreans have nationwide competitions for it and they add fresh raw oysters and squid and all sorts of goodies to this powerful pickle. But this is a lot more realistic and doable for a starving student. Now the difficult bit, to wait.