I love Kimchi. For those as yet unfamiliar with this korean staple, it is spicy fermented vegetables. I have been told that in Korea, kimchi comes in many many types. I learned to love it as fermented cabbage. I should note that I have an addiction to pickles. From a young age, I could eat a full jar of pickles at one sitting. I'm not too particular, any pickle will do, but I really enjoy sour garlic dills and pickled green tomatoes.
A few years ago, I came across a recipe for Kimchi in Mark Bittman's book, How to Cook Everything. It was very good, but I still wanted more. Mark's original recipe is for quick pickled Kimchi. This means that it does not ferment, so it has much of the flavor, but not the pickle-ness.
I co-worker recently gave me a recipe from a book on fermentation. Since then, I've make it twice and I love it!
Be prepared to either love it hate it. There is no in-between. Kimchi has a very potent smell and taste. You have to love garlic, ginger and hot red pepper. If you don't, then maintain a distance. Kimchi dominates a dinner table.
Baechu (Cabbage) Kimchi
1/2 Kilo cabbage (works equally well with green cabbage or with napa cabbage or bok choi)
4-5 carrots in 1/8 inch or smaller slices (optional)
1 few red radishes (optional)
2 onions or leeks or scallions (or more)
3-4 garlic gloves or more (I use a full head of garlic)
1 Tablespoon crushed red pepper (more or less depending on your capacity for heat)
3 tablespoons ginger (a piece about 2 inches by 1 inch)
1 large mouth jar. I use a container that used to hold commercial pickles.
Kosher Salt (2-4 Tablespoons)
Mix a brine of salt water. 2 cups of water to 2 tablespoons salt. Stir until the salt is dissolved.
Cut up the vegetables into bite size pieces. They should not be too thick, because then they will not pickle nicely. Mix the vegetables in the brine and cover with a plate to keep them submerged. Add more brine mixture until the vegetables are completely covered. Leave this sit overnight.
You can use almost any vegetable. I tried red bell peppers. They look great, but have a very soft texture.
The next morning, prepare the kimchi paste. Put the ginger, garlic, onions and crushed red pepper into a blender or food processor and mix until its a paste. It does not have to be smooth.
Remove the vegetables from the brine and taste. If its too salty, rinse them off. Save the original brine.
Pack the vegetables into the pickle container (large mouth jar). They can be pretty tight. You will probably see brine coming up in the container. That's a good thing. Once you fill the container, add enough reserved brine to cover.
Now for the magic. Leave it on a counter with the lid resting on the jar, but not tight. It will sit this way for about 5 days. Taste it every morning. Once it tastes a bit sour, you can transfer the container to the refrigerator. Kimchi will last about 2-3 weeks in the fridge unless you eat it all first.
Have a great time. Kimchi is life, its spicy and crunchy and sometimes a bit sour. But its fun!