I’ve been making kimchi on a frequent basis now for almost three years. Each time I make kimchi, I tweak the recipe. I’ll add something new or take something out. Then I’ll increase or reduce the number of other ingredients. I play with the salt level and the spiciness. My tweaking has landed me on a new recipe which I am calling Kimchi 2.0.
As great as my old kimchi recipes have been, this one is has a more complex flavor. I love it and some of the early feedback I’ve gotten from friends has been very positive.
Here are the changes I’ve made.
- Green cabbage vs Nappa cabbage: Koreans use Nappa cabbage and FireFly Kitchens uses green cabbage. For the most part, I actually prefer green slightly. Then I started mixing the two and came up with my ideal ratio which is 2 parts green cabbage (sliced thin) and 1 part Nappa cabbage (larger pieces).
- More Ginger, Less Garlic: I’m learning that garlic is really not that important to kimchi. I discovered this when I ran out of garlic and continued making the kimchi. I didn’t miss it at all and it turned out excellent. As for the ginger – add more.
- Two Spices: Korean red pepper flakes in my opinion can sometimes need help when it comes to developing a deeper more complex spiciness. If you add more Korean red pepper flakes, it doesn’t get that much spicier, it just gnaws at your gut. These days I’ve scaled back on the Korean Red pepper flakes and I add a small amount of Extra Hot chili powder, which I acquired at an Indian grocery store.
- More Salt: In early posts, I mentioned using 1/2 tablespoon of salt per pound of cabbage. Besides preserving crunch and extending fermentation times, I’ve discovered that adding a bit more salt accents the Korean red pepper flavor. When you use too little, the flavor tends to disappear too fast. Now I use 2/3 to 3/4 tablespoons of salt per pound of cabbage. I use more salt in the summer and less in the winter when my kitchen is cold.
- Mustard Leaf: My secret weapon. When I was sampling the different kimchi options at the great H Mart store, I discovered the wonderful bitter flavor of fermented mustard leaf. You will likely have to go to an Asian market to find this item.
- Only use Green Onions: When I started making kimchi I used regular onions. Not anymore. Green onions are so much better.
Summary: A major version release for my kimchi.
- 2 pounds of green cabbage
- 1 pound of Nappa cabbage
- 1/2 pound of Daikon
- 2 tablespoons of Sea Salt
- 1 bunch of green onions
- 1/2 bunch of mustard leaf
- 4-inch piece of ginger
- 2 tablespoons of Korean red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon of Extra-Hot Chili Powder (optional)
- a few garlic cloves (optional)
- sliced carrots (optional for sweetness)
- Slice green cabbage into ribbons and place into a bucket.
- Cut Nappa Cabbage into large bite-size squares and add to the bucket.
- Add sea salt and mix in with hands. Rub that salt into the cabbage. Get in there. Spend a good 10 minutes doing this.
- Dice daikon and place it in the bucket.
- Add the Korean spices and chili powder to the bucket.
- If using garlic, chop it up and throw it in a bucket.
- If using carrots, slice thin and throw in bucket.
- Mix ingredients.
- Take a 20+ minute break.
- Pack kimchi into jars or crock. Make sure the containers have at least an inch at the top and that the veggies are below the waterline. That means you must use the juice from the bucket.
- Allow kimchi 3-10 days to ferment (see notes below).
Every day you will check on your kimchi. You will push the veggies down (yes, I prefer this method to adding weights, but both are fine). Starting around day 2 taste a little bite each day. It will start very crunchy and then soften up. Whenever it tastes good to you is when the ferment is done. I’ve had summer ferments finish in 3 days and winter ones that go 2 weeks. You could go longer. As long as the veggies are below the waterline, the ferment can continue. Once you like the taste, move the kimchi into the refrigerator, where it will store fine for many months.
For a more detailed explanation of making kimchi see the post Kimchi 101.
Preparation time: 1 hour(s)
Culinary tradition: Korean<