By Andrew Zimmern
I’m obsessed with fermented foods, from sauerkraut to kimchi, and love the hobbyist nature of making my own at home. Kimchi is a staple of Korean cuisine, a traditional dish of fermented vegetables. This napa cabbage kimchi is spicy, sour, crunchy and incredibly addictive. I’ll eat it on anything.
Homemade Napa Cabbage Kimchi
- 5 pounds napa cabbage, I prefer several smaller heads if you can find them
- 1/2 cup kosher salt, give or take
- 2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons glutinous rice flour
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 bunch scallions, cut in 1-inch lengths
- 1/3 cup minced fresh garlic
- 1 cup carrot threads
- 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh ginger
- 2 cups radish threads
- 2 medium yellow onions, diced
- 1 cup chopped garlic chives, also called Chinese chives
- 1/2 cup fish sauce
- 2 cups gochugaru (Korean hot pepper flakes, available at any Asian food store or online)
- 1/4 cup dried fermented salted shrimp, minced fine
Cut each head of napa cabbage into quarters. Dunk the quarters into a large bowl of water. Sprinkle each quarter with salt, making sure to get between the leaves. Let the cabbages rest at room temp for 3 hours. Rotate every 30 minutes or so.
Whisk together the water and sweet rice flour in a small pot over medium heat. Bring it to a boil and cook for 7 to 10 minutes. Add the sugar and cook another minute. Remove from heat and cool completely.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine scallions, garlic, carrot threads, ginger, radish threads, onion, garlic chives, fish sauce, Korean chili powder, and fermented salted shrimp. Pour cooled porridge into the bowl and mix very carefully. You may want to wear gloves and/or goggles.
Spread kimchi paste on each cabbage leaf. When every leaf in a quarter is covered with paste and put into your jar.
Cover opening of the jar with cheesecloth and secure with a rubber band, and let it sit for a few days to ferment. I typically let mine go for 3 days in summer, longer in winter. I keep it in a dark room, about 70-75 degrees.
Once it has fermented to your liking at room temperature, place in jars and store in the refrigerator.