So, you wanna make Kim Chi? Cue the excitement!! Kim chi is so tasty and healthy for you. It contains probiotics and prebiotics to help to stimulate gut health. A happier gut means better serotonin production, clearer skin, more stable moods, less belly bloat, and a stronger immune system. It also just tastes so darn yummy and with the spice and the crunch, you get it all with this kim chi. <3
So before we get to the recipe, I want to give you some information on picking a good head of Napa Cabbage. You want to get a big cabbage that is dense. If you find that your cabbage is a little leafier and more resembles lettuce, you may want to find a denser cabbage. You want there to be more of the white on the cabbage, because that’s where a lot of that crunch comes from. If you can’t find a dense cabbage, it’s okay, use what you got! Grab two or three cabbages if they are less dense and one cabbage if it is more dense.
A small note on the black pepper spots that you may see on the napa cabbage when purchasing. Cook’s Illustrated says, “The cause of these dots, known as “pepper spot” or “black spec,” is unknown, but low light levels, high soil pH, harvesting and storage conditions, and excessive use of fertilizers high in nitrogen and phosphorus are all possibilities.” So don’t worry about it if you see them. To tell if this is mold or not is if you take your finger and swipe the pepper spots. If you notice that the spots come off or get smudged, that’s mold. If not, that’s a pepper spot! It does not alter the taste whatsoever and I have not bought a napa cabbage without them.
Mak Kimchi: Cut-Up Kimchi
MAKES 2-2.5 quarts, about 4.4 lbs
Cook Time: 2 hours approx
- 1 medium Napa cabbage
- Coarse sea salt for brine
- 1 cup water
- 3 Tbsp. rice flour
- 2 1/2 Tbsp. minced garlic
- 2 1/2 Tbsp. minced ginger
- 1/4 medium onion, minced
- 5 tsp. sugar
- 4 tsp. fish sauce (Skip fish sauce if vegan)
- 1 Tbsp. coarse sea salt (use an extra 2 tsp. if not using fish sauce
- 1/2 cup coarse Korean chili pepper flakes (or more if you really want to turn the heat up)
- Utility pan or huge bowl (I really like the utility pan because it’s big enough to salt, wash, and dress cabbage with seasoning. This thing makes making kim chi a breeze.)
- Rubber Gloves (Specifically used for food, don’t reuse your kitchen cleaning gloves)
- Gallon Jar (I like to use a big jar to keep it all together.)
- Discard the loose outer leaves if wilted and quarter the cabbage lengthwise. Cut the bottom core out (hard stem). Cut each quarter crosswise into 2 inch pieces.
- Place a layer of cabbage in the bowl and sprinkle about 1 tbsp over it. Repeat this process until all kim chi is in the bowl and has a nice layer of salt. (It seems like a lot, but we will be getting rid of most of this salt after brining) A slow brining process will help the cabbage to stay crunchy. Too much salt will make the cabbage tough and too salty. Too little salt will leave the cabbage with too much water in it.
- Set aside the cabbage at room temperature to brine. (If it’s winter it may take extra time to complete the brining process. If it’s summer, it may take less time.) Turn cabbage every 30 minutes so it will brine evenly. Periodically, check to make sure they are not getting over-brined. This process takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes in 75 degree weather. To see if your cabbage is brined to perfection, take a piece of the white stem, (not the leafy part) and bend it into a ‘U’ shape so that the edges nearly touch. It should not break, but if you touch the edges together, there should be a nice snap when you fold it all the way to a ‘V’ shape. That’s when you know the kim chi is brined perfectly.
- Once cabbage is done brining wash the cabbage in cold water to rinse the salt off. Wash throughly twice or three times. Drain excess water and set aside.
- In the meantime, make the starch mixture. Combine the rice flour and water in a small pot on medium heat, mixing it together well. After 2 -3 minutes the consistency should resemble mashed potatoes and be a little bubbly. Take off the heat and let cool.
- Combine seasoning mixture and combine. You can use a food processor here if you have one, if not, a bowl will do just fine. Mix all ingredients well. Season to taste. NOTE: Chili pepper flakes aka gochugaru will stain your clothes, your hands, your gloves, and white plastic.
- Add the cabbage to the bowl and gently coat with gloved hands until each piece is coated with the seasoning mixture. NOTE: Wear the gloves so you don’t burn your hands. (Also, not fun to forget after two hours that you had spiciness on your hands and then touch your eyes. EEK!)
- Add kim chi to the jar, and scrape out any goodness of the seasoning mixture left behind. Push the cabbage down firmly so that the water covers the cabbage. Make sure to leave some headspace in the jar, it shouldn’t be over 90% full because it may expand as it ferments. Close the lid firmly.
- Leave the kimchi to ferment at room temperature for 3 days and then push down the cabbage again, making sure that the water is covering the cabbage. I like to give it a full week out of the fridge, but you might do less time. It just depends on how stinky you want your kim chi. The shorter the time, the firmer the cabbage, the longer, the soggier, so finding that balance is important. Also, take into account the weather. The process can be sped up with heat. Rule of thumb 2 days in summer 4 days in winter. Taste kim chi to test fermentation and crunch factor to determine doneness.
- Refrigerate when at desired amount of fermentation. If you prefer fresh kimchi then skip this counter aging period and refrigerate immediately.
I hope you enjoyed this mak kim chi recipe. I’ve made this several times and it does not disappoint. If you do make this kim chi please tag me on instagram @kiarahelen I would love to see what you made and how your kimchi turned out! Take Care!