Homemade Kimchi

I consider myself to be more of a socially awkward person. I dislike networking and I am surprisingly shy when I am in a group setting with people who I’m unfamiliar with. In these situations, instead of turning on my charm, I think I actually become what some would call…borderline creepy.

Despite that, I love it when I can make a new friend. I love the process of when a stranger come into your life, and somehow the two of you stumble upon something that you share in common – you both get really excited, and scream, and talk about it non-stop for 15 minutes, and then you laugh together. Sometimes,  you end up keeping in touch with the stranger and the two of you become friends. I love that. For me, the process is always slightly awkward, but the result is always worth it.

This is what happened between our wedding photographer, Melia and I. Actually, it didn’t happen exactly like what I described above. Melia is very calm and graceful, so screaming is not really her thing. But I screamed, loud enough for the both of us, so it’s all good.

Aside from being an incredible photographer and a mom to 2 adorable boys, Melia is also a kimchi connoisseur. After confessing to her my love for kimchi and mentioning that I’ve always wanted to try and make kimchi from scratch, Melia shared with me her favourite recipe.

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This recipe is originally from Dr. Ben Kim, and folks…it’s a definite winner. I will never be buying kimchi from a grocery store, ever again. The kimchi keeps well in your fridge for at least 1 month and you can make some many things with it, the possibilities are endless – kimchi fried rice, korean pancake, kimchi stew, I could go on for hours.

Here is what you’ll need:

1 head of Napa Cabbage
1/4 cup sea salt
1/4 cup Korean red chili powder (ko choo kah rhoo//고추 가루)
3 stalks of green onions
2 TBsp fish sauce*
3-4 garlic cloves
A chunk of fresh ginger, skin removed, maybe 5-10 grams
1/2 ripe apple
1/2 ripe pear
1/2 medium yellow onion

  1. Roughly chop the napa cabbage into large bite-size pieces. No need to wash the cabbage leaves just yet, that will come later. Throw the cabbage into a big non-plastic bowl.
  2. Completely dissolve the sea salt into a mug of warm water, add it to the cabbage and toss the leaves around to evenly distribute everything.
  3. Let the salted cabbage sit at room temperature for about 4 hours, undisturbed. The cabbage leaves will shrink while the salt draws water out of them.
  4. Strain off all the liquid and throughly rinse the cabbage leaves to get rid of the salty brine. Return the cleaned cabbage leaves to a large bowl
  5. Mix the Korean red chili powder with 1/4 cup of warm water until a red paste forms. Add the paste to the bowl with the cabbage
  6. Roughly chop up the green onions into large bite size pieces, add them into the bowl, along with the fish sauce
  7. In a blender, blend together garlic, ginger, the half apple, half pear, and half onion with a cup of water until everything turns into a smooth puree. Pour it into the bowl with the cabbage.
  8. Put on a pair of plastic disposable gloves. Use your hands to throughly toss all of the ingredients in the bowl so that everything is mixed evenly and that every cabbage leaf is coated with the red peppery marinade. (According to Dr. Kim, gloves are necessary as the pepper will burn the skin on your hands…I took his word for it and I recommend that you do too).
  9. Firmly pack your kimchi into a large, clean glass jar. Really use those muscles and pack the cabbage in nice and tight, this helps with the fermentation process. Then pour in some of the red pepper liquid that’s now in the bottom on your bowl. I like to cover all of my cabbage leaves with 1/2 inch of the liquid
  10. Do not fill your glass jars up to the brim. The kimchi inside will expand slightly as it ferments. Also, do not cap the glass jar too tightly, give it a bit of wiggle room so that air can escape
  11. Leave the jar of kimchi on your kitchen counter, at room temperature for 24 hours. Then tighten the cap and transfer the jar into the fridge and it will keep for at least 1 month
  12. You can eat the kimchi as soon as the first 24 hour mark has passed, and it will be delicious. The cabbage will get more and more sour as it continues to slowly ferment in the fridge. We like it best after it has been in the fridge for 2-3 days, and then it just keeps getting more and more delicious by each passing day.

*Omit the fish sauce if you are making a vegetarian version. If you are feeling adventurous, I heard red miso paste or kale powder (dissolved in water) make can make good substitutes for the fish sauce.

Recipe from Dr. Ben Kim.

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2 thoughts on “Homemade Kimchi

  1. I love kimchi, but have not been able to enjoy it since becoming a vegetarian. Do you know of a recipe without fish sauce? Or do you think it would be as good without it?

    • Hi Adanlez6! I should’ve specified in the recipe, it’s totally fine if you want to omit the fish sauce. Also, other vegetarian alternatives to fish sauce can be red miso paste or 3/4 teaspoon kelp powder mixed with 3 tablespoons water.

      Hope this helps!

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