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Easy Kimchi Recipe | Simple Fermentation

 

Kimchi was the final fermented food that I had been yearning to make, had tried several times, but had yet to find success...until now. I was testing out easy kimchi recipes as I will be introducing some fermented foods into the revised Culinary Nutrition Expert program. I also have a super awesome recipe to share for Kimchi Sushi Rolls and thought I best first work out how to make this elusive traditional Korean delight.

I was at my usual organic grocer, owned by a Korean family. I mentioned needing daikon for my kimchi and the women at the checkout were all excited that I was going to attempt this. I asked what their best tips were. They both giggled and told me their best tip was to buy some already made.

The traditions of traditional foods are being lost by many, while people like me and my friends at Well Preserved and Nourished Kitchen (just two of the many traditional food blogs I love) do our best to uphold a little of the goodness from "the old country" - whatever and whose ever old country that may be. It's important. And when it comes to fermented foods, it's mighty important.

I have written often in the last year about the powerful benefits of fermented foods for our digestive health, immune health, and even brain health (which is directly connected to the health of our gut). But when I go to buy fermented foods, especially kimchi, it's hard to know exactly what's in there. So many kimchi recipes I looked at called for shrimp paste, or korean spice blends. And you know I like to know what I'm eating.

And so, in the last year, I have begun to make all of my own ferments - whether it's coconut kefir, saurkraut, kombucha, and now, I am proud to say, I have succeeded with kimchi.

Kimchi Ingredients

The recipe I used was inspired by this one from my dear friend (whom I've yet to meet but any friend of Joel and Dana's is a friend of mine), Marisa of Food in Jars. I loved her version as it didn't use any pre-made spice blends or pastes.

Kimchi preparation

It used only the super potent, smelly and strong ingredients to set the flavour, including daikon radish, green onion, garlic, ginger and chillies. Shazaam. That is medicinal power, not to mention a gorgeous rainbow of goodness.

Kimchi ingredients in bowl

It took some time to slice, dice and prep, which I did all by hand in the spirit of traditional foods, but I would totally use a food processor next time around. I am all into tradition, but we might as well shake what mama gave us - or use the appliances that make for less work and mess.

Fermented Foods Kimchi

I massaged the bejesus out of this mix until it got soft and juicy. Packed it into a jar, and let it sit for about five days. It started to foam at one point but I just scraped that off and let is sit a few days more until it was soft, fermented and, I gotta say, so delicious!

Easy Kimchi Recipe

And so here is my super easy, almost fool-proof, kimchi recipe. I say almost fool proof as you really can't give any guarantees when it comes to fermentation. Every go around is an experiment. That's just part of the fun.

Easy Kimchi

Rating 

Prep time: 

Cook time: 

Total time: 

Yield: 6-8 cups

A simple approach to making traditional kimchi

Ingredients
  • 1 head napa cabbage, cored and shredded (makes about 8 cups)
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 1 daikon radish, grated
  • 10 red radishes, grated
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 Tbsp grated ginger
  • 2 Tbsp sea salt
  • 3 Tbsp chilli flakes or 1½ Tbsp chilli powder

Make It Like So
  1. Prep all vegetables as directed in ingredients and place in large bowl. Add salt and chilli flakes. Use a larger bowl than you think you might need, as it lends to better veggie massaging.
  2. Massage cabbage mix for about 10 minutes and then set aside. While resting, the salt will help the veggies to 'sweat', releasing some of their water.
  3. Return to massage for another 10 minutes, until cabbage and other veggies are softened and a few tablespoons worth of water has been released.
  4. Divide the mix between two 1 gallon/1 litre mason jars.
  5. Press kimchi mix down, helping get out any air bubbles and ideally have some of the liquid come to the top.
  6. Seal jar loosely and place in a warm spot (like on top or or beside your fridge). Let sit for 4-5 days. If foam starts to form, you can skim that off. After about 4 days, taste the kimchi (with a clean fork, never double dip) and decide if you want to let it ferment longer or you're ready to enjoy it.
  7. Once ready, seal the jar and store in your fridge. Will keep for 2-3 months sealed.

 What are your favourite fermented foods to make form scratch? Share your resources below!

 

65 Responses to “Easy Kimchi Recipe | Simple Fermentation”

  1. Dave said…
    Just a point to emphasise when you say "seal loosely" it should be noted that this means to allow air to escape while fermenting as gases will build up so the lids must be left loose or better yet use an air lock.
  2. Doug Ruthless said… December 19, 2017
    Thanks 1st time maker loved it
  3. meg malone said… February 19, 2018
    Have been making this recipe for a year now ,and my husband and i love it ,thanks so much Meg.
  4. HS said… March 7, 2018
    Hello Meghan. Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe. I'm new to the community and came here while searching healthy, easy, kimchi recipes with only ingredients that I can actually recognize! I have a question for you before I venture into this experience. I have to rely on non-visual ways to determine whether this has come right as my vision is not sufficient to use color as a cue. In response to some questions in comments, there is areference to fur. I was wondering if you can think of a nonvisual way -- texture, feel etc. -- to give me to be used as a cue to determine when the fermentation process is complete and successful. Thanks so much for your time, and of course for this wonderful site!
    • Welcome to you! For fermentation, some of the best non-visual ways to determine if ferments ready are taste and smell. Try a little bit and see how it tastes to you. You don't want to be feeling around the ferment with your fingers, as that will introduce extra bacteria into the mix. If there is anyone else in your household, you could also ask them what they think from a visual perspective.
  5. HS said… March 9, 2018
    Thanks for your response, Meghan. Yes, smell/taste should be the guide then. I was hoping to get a further sense as to what kind of smell is un-natural, as of course the fermentation process does lead to a particular kind of odor. Just one point -- even though it might seem insignificant to your general readership: Since this site is so educational all round, I think it apt to mention that the stereotypical assumption that all vision-impaired folks would have to feel their way around is just that, stereotypical, and thus should be avoided in the interest of better education of the public. Your point regarding the possibility of transferring unwanted bacteria through hands, obvious as it is, is of course right on. But folks with no or impaired vision in the kitchen do not 'feel around' as a substitute for sight, or if they do, I'm sure those who are more savvy in the kitchen are wary of basic -- if not more advanced -- hygiene. Thanks again for such wonderful recipes!
  6. George said… March 17, 2018
    Hi, I'm new to the idea of fermenting. My grandparents made sauerkraut, pickles, pickled corn, pickled green beans, etc. when I was a child. I appreciate the renewed interest in these methods of preserving and preparing foods. I looked at my local grocery and they have all the ingredients that you list. One question... the daikon radishes that they have are much larger than what I imagined! They're 12-20 inches long and 2-4 inches diameter. How much grated daikon radish would you recommend compared to the amount of cabbage being used, how many cups of daikon radish vs. the roughly 8 cups of napa cabbage? And, do you have any recommendations as to what to look for when buying these ingredients? I look forward to trying this and other fermented recipes. Thank you for your very informative site!
    • My daikon wasn't that big and made about 1 1/4 cups. You could use less if you don't like the taste of daikon. Look for one that is smooth, firm and un-wrinkled. I pick cabbage that is free of discolouration/spots, with firm and crisp leaves. You can learn a bit more about produce here as well: https://www.culinarynutrition.com/how-to-best-store-produce-and-save-money-in-the-process/
  7. Laure said… April 17, 2018
    Thank you for posting this fish sauce free recipe!!! I recently learned I Have all 10 of the top 10 food allergies. Fermented foods were suggested as something that may help, but nearly every Kimchi recipe I found either bad fish, fish sauce, or some for. If soy. This recipe sounds perfect! The only thing I'm out of right now is daikon radish, so a quick trip to the store, & I will be making my first batch of Kimchi.
  8. ZackStr said… April 26, 2018
    Found this recipe after my first trial was a complete disaster (I blame the other recipe ;) ), and I got so many compliments : including some from real Koreans! Thank you!
  9. Cristina said… April 30, 2018
    This is a variation on kimchi, but to call this kimchi would be untrue.

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