Napa Cabbage Kimchi (Baekju gimchi)
Making kimchi is not about precise measurements. It’s about taste. Many things can influence the final result, like the taste of the unseasoned cabbage. Some heads of Napa are very sweet so you would add less sweetener (sugar/nashi pear), some are slightly bitter so you would add a little more salt, ginger, daikon, and sweetener to overcome the “bitter”. If you get a strong fish/shrimp paste, you would use less in the recipe. etc. For a stronger flavor, maybe you would add more garlic and use chives instead of green/spring onion. Remember, it’s about taste so use this recipe as a beginning.
- 2 head napa cabbage (approximately 2 lbs)
- 1/2 cup salt (for brine)
- 1/4 small Daikon radish
- 8 spring or green onions
- 1 tablespoon finely ground red chili powder
- 3 tablespoon coarse ground red chili pepper
- 8 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1/2 small nashi pear
- 2 ounces fresh ginger, peeled
- 1 tablespoon shrimp or anchovy paste
(If you do not like the somewhat fishy element of kimchi, you can omit this ingredient, just be sure to increase the amount of salt below by at least one tablespoon)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
Prepare the Cabbage
Cut the cabbage in half from bottom to top.
Place the cabbage in a large pot or other container big enough to handle the cabbage cut side up.
Carefully lift the leaves and salt between them using about 1/2 the salt.
Slowly add water until there is enough to submerge the cabbage.
Add the rest of the salt spread over the cabbage and let sit for at least 4 hours. (overnight is best)
After soaking discard brine then cut the cabbage sections in half from bottom to top and rinse in cold water.
Remove the solid mass at the root end. (A diagonal cut from the inner or heart top of the mass to bottom outer leaf works best)
Slice the cabbage into roughly 1/2 inch pieces and place in a large mixing bowl.
Prepare the Daikon
Shred the daikon into a strainer or colander.
Rinse 1 time in cold water and drain.
Place in a small bowl and lightly sprinkle with salt.
Set aside until time to mix.
Prepare seasoning paste
Slice the ginger and pear into small pieces and toss in blender.
Add garlic cloves and just enough water to blend into a thick paste.
Pour blended mix into a small mixing bowl, then add all other paste ingredients and mix well.
Cut the green/spring onion into roughly 1 inch sections and add to paste, mixing until onion is completely covered.
Let stand about fifteen minutes.
Mix the Kimchi
Add the shredded Daikon to the Napa cabbage and lightly toss.
Add the seasoning paste and mix until well spread throughout the cabbage.
Place into glass mason jar(s), leaving room at the top of the jar to accommodate swelling, and refrigerate.
Depending on your “sour” level, the kimchi will be ready to serve in anywhere from one hour to several days.
Note: To speed the souring/fermentation you can let the kimchi sit out at room temperature for up to 24 hours, just be sure to release the pressure that will build up.
Kimchi will swell and create pressure during the fermentation process. It is important to release pressure every so often to prevent breakage of storage container.
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