In a bit of a pickle: How to make kimchi
Kimchi is a fermented dish native to Korea. It is made of fermented cabbage and sometimes radishes, as well as garlic, salt, vinegar, chilli peppers and spices – making it a pretty potent side dish or salsa.
Once made, you can keep this fermented superstar for up to 12 months. Place it in the fridge to stop the fermentation process; the taste will be tangier and the spices will mellow over time. The trick to tell whether or not your kimchi is ready to eat is in the taste – when it isn’t yet ready and fully ripe, you’ll be able to taste and smell the individual ingredients as they haven’t had time to do their thing. As they mingle and start to ferment, the flavours begin to blend together and the kimchi will taste sour with a slight zing to it. It will also have the pungent smell that is unique to kimchi.
- Kimchi is high in fibre as well as a raft of probiotics, namely ones belonging to the Lactobacillus group which are good for digestion
- It’s also packed with vitamins B and C and beta-carotene, which may be easier for our body to absorb here, thanks to the good bacteria present
- 4 litres spring water
- 4 tbsp sea salt
- 2 Chinese cabbages (also known as ‘nappa cabbages’), about 1kg each
- 1 bunch spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
- 10cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
- 5 large cloves garlic, peeled and grated or finely chopped
- 1⁄2 eating apple, peeled and finely sliced
- 2 tbsp dried chilli flakes
- 2 tbsp hot pepper paste (available at Asian stores)
- 1 large bowl
- 2 × 1-litre sterilised sealable jars
- First make the brine: put the water and salt into a large bowl, or use two. Stir so that the salt disperses into the water. Trim the bases of the cabbages, then slice lengthways into quarters and add to the bowl, making sure all the cabbage is immersed in the water. Leave for 1–2 hours so the salt can penetrate it.
- Drain the cabbage really well, pat dry, then leave it to dry overnight.
- In a large bowl put the spring onions, ginger, garlic, apple, chilli flakes and hot pepper paste and mix well until combined. Now add the cabbage a little at a time, stirring as you go – you can chop it a little if you wish, but leave it fairly chunky as it’s best chopped as you use it. Turn the mixture really well in the bowl (using food-preparation gloves helps here) until everything is completely coated.
- Add the mixture to the sterilised jars, pressing it down as you go so it’s well packed. The cabbage needs to be submerged under the juice. Don’t pack to the top of the jars because as it ferments and expands it may try to overflow. Seal with the lid and leave for up to 3 days in warm weather and up to 7 days in cold, before using.
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