I had never tried Kimchi until a visit to a Korean BBQ restaurant during a recent trip to Hong Kong. Kimchi is Korea’s staple side dish made from salted and fermented vegetables, most commonly Chinese cabbage. It is crunchy, salty with a slight umami flavour, followed by a fiery little kick and quite moreish. In Korea they used to ferment it traditionally in large clay pots and bury it underground for several months, but I must admit I am not sure if they still practise this method, as they now have dedicated kimchi refrigerators.
The vegetables are seasoned with gochujang, a red chilli paste mixed with fermented soybeans, glutinous rice and salt, and aged in barrels. You can also add other flavours including garlic, fresh ginger, daikon, spring onions and even shrimp paste.
Kimchi – Korea’s Staple Side Dish
You can make your own quite easily and the following recipe is for a very basic version, so feel free to experiment.
- 1 Chinese Cabbage
- 7 Cloves of Garlic
- 6 Spring Onions
- 2 Tablespoons Gochujang
Quarter the cabbage and cut these into chunks approx 5 cm in size. Place into a large bowl, add 4 tablespoons of salt and massage into the cabbage. Cover with water, placing another bowl on top of the cabbage so it is kept submerged. Leave this for 2 hours, to do it’s thing. After this time place the cabbage in a colander and rinse thoroughly under cold running water. Leave for 30-40 minutes to drain.
Chop your garlic, but to not too finely, so you have small chunks. Trim the ends of the spring onions and slice into approx. 2 cm pieces.
Add to the cabbage along with the gochujang. Mix all the ingredients well together. You will ideally need latex gloves and make sure you roll your sleeves up well!
Transfer the mixture into a Kilner Jar or a large sterilised glass jar. Press the kimchi down well and seal the lid. Leave this for 5 days at room temperature, making sure that you release the lid each day to let the fermenting gases escape, pushing the vegetables back under the brine.
This can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 months, if it lasts that long.