Sunday, March 1, 2015

Easiest kimchi recipe ever

I have a rather distinct childhood memory in regards to watching my mother make rather large batches of kimchi. My mother's method began with soaking at least 3-4 cabbages in salt water for 3 days. Next was to wash the cabbage thoroughly with cold water. My involvement required me to pick up and drain the biggest silver tub full of stinky salt water down the sink and then wash it down with the hose. Then getting rubber gloves and mixing in the smelly garlic and chilli powder into the cabbage and ensuring that it was well covered in the pickling marinade.

Perhaps somewhat scarred from this experience and watching my mother pour ad hoc measurements of chilli powder, salt, garlic and chunks of ginger, I rebelled from ever making it and opted to buy kimchi ready made at the Asian supermarket, much to the annoyance of my mother.
It's only since I've had a family of my own and not being entirely happy with the rather sweet kimchi from the supermarket, my interest in making kimchi piqued once again. 
I have experimented with the amounts and timing and the results are a tasty kimchi. I even have the approval of my father who is rather severe critic of Korean food. I found it goes really well with pulled pork rolls instead of coleslaw and Rueben sandwiches instead of sauerkraut. This will make a fresh tasting batch of kimchi which is ready to eat the next day.

My sister is already a fan of this recipe and so it seems that we may have overcome our childhood experiences of making tonnes of kimchi. But I prefer this method as its quick, easy and can be completed in a few hours.

Makes nearly 3 glass containers full



1 whole cabbage
70g cooking salt
Kimchi Marinade
1 onion peeled
20g sugar
50g rice syrup (or use sugar syrup*)
1 thumb sized knob of ginger
120g garlic**
20g fish sauce
1 tablespoon of salt
80g -100g Korean chilli powder (use the coarse grained chilli flakes)
40g garlic chives (not completely necessary but I like it)


1. Cut the cabbage in half, cut the halves again to get quarters and then cut out the core and into 4cm lengths.

2. Place 2 handfuls of cabbage into a large container and sprinkle salt as you go, keep going until you have placed all the cabbage into the container. (Depending on how big the cabbage is, it sometimes fits perfectly into the container and other times it is overflowing but after a couple of hours, the cabbage gets floppy and wilts due to the salt then fits into the container afterwards.)

3. Leave the cabbage to soak in salt for 2-3hrs. (I have once left it for 6hrs as I was too lazy to finish it off but it ended up being fine.)

4. Wash thoroughly with water and leave to drain in colander. 

5. Wash the garlic chives and cut into 1cm lengths.

6. To prepare the marinade, blitz the onion, ginger, garlic with sugar, sugar syrup, fish sauce in a food processor until it resembles a paste.

7. Combine marinade with cabbage, add Korean chilli powder, 1 tablespoon of salt and garlic chives then mix through until a nice red mixture. I tend to look for an overall red colour of kimchi to determine if it has enough chilli powder. (This is when using disposable gloves whilst mixing comes in handy)

8. Place kimchi into airtight containers (I recommend glass jars with clasp lids).

9. Keep in the fridge as it will keep for a 3 months, pending on how you fermented you like your kimchi.

Handy Hints

*Sugar syrup is easy to make, I use a 1:1 ratio of sugar and water.
Example you just add 50g sugar and 50mL water into a saucepan onto medium-high heat until sugar has dissolved and bubbles and you have sugar syrup. Or if you want to omit sugar syrup just add an extra 20g of sugar.

**I’ve experimented with amounts of garlic from 60g (too little garlic) and 200g (too garlicky) and I found that 120g is a good balance.

Recommend glass jars as I’ve seen how kimchi can stain plastic containers and the smell remains even with a good scrubbing.

Use the rather old fermented kimchi for pajeon (Korean kimchi pancake).

I use a 6L decor plastc container for one cabbage.