Kimchi is a traditional fermented Korean side dish made of vegetables with many seasonings. In traditional preparation, kimchi was stored underground in jars to keep cool during the summer months and unfrozen during the winter months. There are hundreds of varieties of kimchi made from Napa cabbage, radish, scallion, or cucumber as a main ingredient. The most common variety of kimchi is made from cabbage, radish, garlic, red pepper, salt and sugar. The cabbage is soaked in salt water for a few hours. Coarse rock salt is then rubbed in between the leaves of the cabbage. Red peppers are also rubbed in and most Kimchi has a lot of pepper in it.
3-8 pounds napa cabbage
2 bunches green onions trimmed of the root bits
2-3 large carrots peeled, thinly julienned
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup korean chili powder
15-20 cloves garlic
4-6 inches ginger peeled, rough chopped
1 tablespoon fish sauce
unsweetened pear juice or unsweetened apple juice
4 tablespoons white miso paste
- Cut the napa cabbage in half longways, then in half again longways. Cut the core out of the four quarters. Cut the cabbage into squares (about 2-3 inches square), pop it in a bowl with the carrots. Sprinkle with the 1/2 cup kosher salt, massage so everything is coated in salt and starting to soften and wilt. Fill with cold, chlorine free water to cover it well and let it soak for at least 1 1/2 hours.
- Pour the cabbage and carrots and liquid into a strainer. Let the brine drain away.
- Lob off the white bits of the green onions and put them in a food processor with the garlic cloves, ginger, miso paste, and korean pepper powder. Zap it on high ’til it’s smooth-ish. Add in the fish sauce and a couple of slops of pear juice and zap it more until it’s about pancake batter consistency… maybe a bit thinner.
- Put the brined cabbabe/carrots in a big, anti-reactive (glass, enamel, or stainless steel) bowl. Rough chop the green parts of the onions and add those to the cabbage/carrots. Pour the chili paste combo over the cabbage and wear gloves to massage it all over the cabbage/carrots green onions so everything is completely covered.
- Pack super tight in canning jars. CRAM it in there. Add a two-piece lid, but just set the ring in place to hold the lid down without screwing it in place. Place it on a rimmed baking dish to catch any spill-over. Let it sit at room temperature for up to 72 hours, until it is bubbly and fragrant. Once every day, insert a clean chopstick or butterknife to release air bubbles. If needed, pour in some additional brine to keep all the vegetables submerged.
- Store on a rimmed sheet in the refrigerator for up to six months, being sure that the vegetables are submerged the whole time. The older it gets, the stronger it will become.