I discovered kimchi from my college roomate, Myung Ja Lee, many years ago.
After scouring the internet for all kinds of kimchi recipes, I decided to combine a few and make my own pungent Kimchi (Kimchee), a fermented cabbage and Korean radish piece of love. A comment posted after one recipe I read declared that she wanted kimchi soup as her last meal on this earth!
I also read that good Korean homemakers never buy kimchi; it’s a homemade accompaniment to most meals. I just finished packing my gallon jar with this recipe, and it’s sitting in my cool laundry room on its way to fermentation.
Here’s what you need:
1 large Chinese or Napa cabbage
1 large Korean peeled radish (the size of a large grapefruit or turnip)
1 bunch of green onions (approx. 7-8)
about 1 cup salt
Rinse the cabbage and cut lengthwise in half and then each half into thirds.
Cut the radish into bite sized cubes. Cut the green onions into about 1-2 inch diagonal pieces. Rub salt between each layer of cabbage and toss the radish cubes with salt. Set aside for about 4 hours. Then drain, rinse, and squeeze out as much water as you can.
In the meantime, mix 1/4 c. rice flour or regular flour and 3 c. water. Bring to a boil, add 1/8-1/4 c. sugar. Set aside to cool. In a food processor, add 1 c. fish sauce (an anchovy extract available in any Asian grocery store), 1 head of garlic (approx. 10 cloves), 1 med. onion, 1 TBL of fresh ginger, and 1/4 c. Asian red pepper. Add the processed mix to the flour/water mixture so that it becomes a loose gruel.
Put on rubber gloves and rub the sauce through each leaf. Mix the rest of the sauce in the radishes and green onions. Alternate the cabbage and radish/onion into a gallon jar. Close the lid and set aside in a cool area for 1-2 days until you see a few bubbles beginning to form. Then put in smaller jars (or keep in the big one) and refrigerate. You can eat it fresh or wait until it’s fermented. Some of the recipes I reviewed suggested the kimchi be eaten within 3 weeks of refrigeration; others don’t mention a “shelf life.”
I’m going searching for that kimchi soup recipe, and of course, you’ll see it, too!