This iconic Korean ferment is not for the faint of heart but once you get over the direct assault on all your senses, the addictive tangy and spicy flavour will have you wanting more. Kimchi is made with lacto- fermented vegetables (namely cabbage), the same process that creates sauerkraut. And like sauerkraut, it’s full of all the good stuff that encourages, nourishes, and supports your internal bacterial community.
There are hundreds of different ways to make kimchi but this simple recipe is a good starting point. It’s an a slight adaption of Sandor Katz’s recipe - the godfather of the modern fermentation revival. If you want to learn more about fermentation, we highly recommend his book - The Art of Fermentation.
2 large chinese cabbages
4 - 5 garlic cloves, crushed
4 - 6 hot red chillies, remove seeds, finely chopped (any form of hot pepper will work - fresh or dried. Or you can also use 3 - 4 tablespoons sriracha chilli sauce or chilli paste, depending on how hot you you like your kimchi)
2 tablespoons fish sauce (no chemical preservatives)
6 - 8 radishes, grated
2 - 4 carrots, sliced or grated
4 - 6 spring onions, finely shredded
thumb-sized piece ginger, grated
5 - 6 tablespoons sea salt
1.5 litres of filtered water
*brine should taste fairly salty
2.5 litre fermentation pot
ceramic weight stones
vegetable slicer or sharp knife
2 x large bowls
measuring jug for brine solution
Wash your fermentation pot and ceramic weights. Dry thoroughly.
Rinse the cabbage under cold running water, drain and dry thoroughly.
Make the brine by mixing salt and water, and stir until completely dissolved.
Roughly chop the cabbage and transfer into large bowl with the radishes and carrots. Pour the brine over the vegetables and keep them submerged by covering with a large plate. Let the vegetables soak in brine for a few hours, or overnight.
Make the kimchi paste by combining the ginger, garlic, spring onions, chillies (fresh, dried, sauce or paste), and the fish sauce.
Place the other large bowl in the sink and using a colander, drain the brine off the vegetables. Reserve the brine.
You want the vegetables to be salty but not unpleasantly salty. If they are too salty, rinse them under cold running water. If you cannot taste the salt, sprinkle a couple teaspoons and mix.
It’s a good idea to wear kitchen gloves at this stage. If you decide not to wear gloves during the next step, DO NOT touch your eyes and make sure you wash your hands thoroughly after packing the mixture into fermentation pot.
Mix the vegetables with the kimchi paste and lightly pack the mixture into your fermentation pot. Press down gently down until brine starts to rise again. If there is not enough, add a little of the reserved brine.
Grab your ceramic weight stones and place on top of mixture. The mixture must be fully submerged. Fill the gutter - roughly half - with water, and place the lid on.
Place in warm spot in your kitchen but not in direct sunlight.
Leave to ferment for 3 days (the ideal fermentation time for kimchi) or you can leave for about a week if you like a stronger flavour. Top up the gutter if the water falls below the half-way mark.
Taste it every day and once you are happy with the flavour, transfer to airtight container and place in the fridge.
Lasts up to 3 months in the fridge.