Whether you’re new to kimchi (and Korean food) or you’re looking for a good recipe for the classic cabbage kimchi, this recipe will serve you well. While there are a few odd ingredients (fish sauce, shrimp paste, rice flour) this makes the tastiest kimchi ever. Tangy, crunchy, spicy, garlicky, salty, and chock-full of a myriad of flavors, this recipe will guarantee you success with kimchi.
Classic Kimchi (Mak Kimchi)
1 head napa cabbage
1 cup kosher or sea salt (do not use iodized table salt!)
1 cup glutinous rice flour
2 cups hot water
½ cup Korean red pepper
1 tbsp white sugar, honey, or raw sugar
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp Korean fermented shrimp paste
6 scallions, or 12 garlic chive stems
1 Daikon radish (Korean preferred, but Japanese is OK too)
8 cloves of garlic (or more)
1 inch ginger, grated.
Large mason jar or resealable glass container
- Take the napa cabbage and chop off the bottom inch to remove the stem. Chop the napa cabbage head into one inch slices, then cut into 1 inch (ish) square pieces.
- In a very large bowl, place a 1 inch layer of napa cabbage pieces. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of salt. Place another layer of napa cabbage pieces, then another tablespoon of salt. Repeat until all the cabbage is used.
- Next, we’re going to brine the cabbage for a couple hours, as well as squishing it to squeeze water out of the cabbage pieces. To create a sort of makeshift press for squishing the cabbage, place a large plate on top of the cabbage, then place a heavy item or weight on top of the plate (a large jar of water or sugar or salt works really well).
- Walk away from the cabbage pieces – we’re going to let that sit for a 3 hours. In the meantime, we’ll start working on the red pepper paste that we’re going to mix into the brined cabbage mix.
- Place the 1 cup of glutinous rice flour into a small sauce pot with 2 cups water. Whisking the rice flour and water, heat the mixture until just boiling. The mixture should be thick, like glue and very sticky. Take off the heat and let cool for 5 minutes, then empty into a medium sized bowl.
- Shred the Daikon radish. Chop the scallions or garlic chives into 2 inch long pieces. Add the shredded Daikon radish, scallions/garlic chives, garlic, ginger, fish sauce, fermented shrimp paste, sugar/honey and red pepper to the rice flour paste and mix thoroughly. You can use either a utensil, or a set of thick rubber gloves – Korean ladies usually use the sort of gloves for dishwashing, but you can also use a set of disposable nitrile gloves too.
- After the cabbage is finished brining, take off the plate and weight and drain off brine, reserving the brine for later. Mix in the rice flour mixture with the cabbage, ensuring that everything gets mixed with everything for maximum surface area : flavor ratio.
- Once mixed, start packing the cabbage into your jar using either your hands or a utensil. Make sure to pack down the pieces to release any air bubbles – you want a solid mass of kimchi pressed into the jar.
- After all the kimchi is in the jar, pour over any of your remaining liquid into the jar as well. You want your kimchi to be covered with salty liquid for proper fermentation. If you need extra brine to top off the kimchi, simply mix together 1 tablespoon of salt with 1 cup water and add to the jar.
- Once you’re done packing and the kimchi is covered, we’ll need to let it ferment. I like to use the mason jar ring and a coffee filter to create a breathable barrier for the kimchi while fermenting. Simply place the coffee filter on the mouth of the jar and screw into place with the mason jar ring.
- Place the kimchi out of the way and out of the way of direct sunlight where it can do it’s thing. I personally keep it on the counter (with a saucer or bowl underneath in case some juices decide to bubble out during the fermentation process) but you can also keep it in the refrigerator if you like – it just will take longer to ferment.
- How long do you have to wait until your kimchi is ready? Depends, but I usually feel after 48 hours we’re good to go. If you see bubbling, or if it starts getting that distinct tangy flavor, then the fermentation process has started and the kimchi is ready to eat.