Published: August 24, 2011
I fell in love with kimchi several years ago when an old boyfriend took me to his favorite Korean restaurant in Boston. I was a vegetarian at the time, and so was less than enthralled by the array of char-grilled meats before me (don’t worry, I have since seen the light), but I was enraptured by the seemingly endless little bowls of condiments and nibble-ables, the tastiest of which, I thought, was spicy fermented cabbage or kimchi. I’ve been buying kimchi for some time, always too intimidated to make it. Finally, after a friend clued me in that it’s actually pretty simple to prepare at home, I decided to stop dropping $6-$10 every week on my beloved kimchi and learn to make it myself.
I adapted this from David Lebovitz’s* reliable recipe, making this one purely from cabbage and not also daikon and green onions as he did, but I’m thinking that maybe next week I’ll try adding them in for a little variety.
Note: Hit up your local Asian grocery store for the best variety and prices on cabbage, Sambal Oelek, and fish sauce.
1/2 cup salt pantry
1 gallon water
1 large Chinese or Napa cabbage, cored and sliced $0.50
about 10 cloves garlic, peeled and minced pantry
1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced $0.50
1/4 cup Sambal Oelek or Korean chili paste $2 for 8 oz.
1/4 cup Asian fish sauce $2 for 16 oz.
1 teaspoon honey pantry
Total cost of ingredients: $5
In a very large container (or several smaller containers) dissolve the salt in the water. Submerge the cabbage into the salt water and weigh it down with a plate or frying pan (so it stays submerged). Let cabbage soak for 2 hours.
A few minutes before the cabbage finishes soaking, combine the minced garlic and ginger, Sambal Oelek or Korean chili paste, and honey in a large bowl. Stir well to combine.
Once the cabbage has finished soaking, drain it, rinse it, and squeeze it gently to remove excess liquid.
Use your hands (wear gloves or use tongs instead if you have any open cuts as the chilies and garlic can sting) to thoroughly incorporate the chili mixture with the cabbage.
Pack the kimchi into a 24 or 25 oz. jar (I used an old, scrubbed-clean tomato sauce jar) and screw the lid on tightly. Set in a cool, dry place, out of direct sunlight (my pantry worked well for this) for three or four days. After three days, open the jar and look for tiny bubbles. If it’s begun to bubble, it’s ready to serve or to be refrigerated. If it hasn’t yet begun to bubble, leave it for another day. After four days, you should notice a few tiny bubbles throughout the jar and can either serve your kimchi or put it in the refrigerator.
The kimchi will continue to ferment in your refrigerator. I find that after three or four weeks, it’s a bit too fermented for me, so I try to eat it within that time (it’s usually gone before then anyway).
Makes about 22 oz. kimchi.
For more brokeassness, visit brokeassgourmet.com.
* Correction: This article initially misspelled David Lebovitz's last name as Leibovitz.
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