Do not shy away from making your own kimchi at home! It's way easier than it seems. Promise.
When I think about kimchi my mouth starts to water. It excites me in ways that no other food does. It is spicy and salty, with a funky fermented, umami flavour. And that texture, that crunch! bliss.
I can't wait to get home from work to have a little kimchi snack, straight from the jar. I look forward to left over rice so I can make kimchi fried rice, I can't get enough of broth with dumplings and kimchi, and I dream about spicy, salty Caesars made with fresh horseradish and kimchi juice.
I personally prefer my kimchi on the more fermented, older side. The older the better! But i'll take it any way I can get it.
Kimchi at the store or the farmers market can be fairly pricey and hit-or-miss when it comes to flavour (though I've tried the costco version and think it's okay, all things considered). While making it at home is simple, cost effective, and you get to choose the amount of heat, ginger, and fish sauce that goes in! Plus you can ferment to your taste. It's 100% worth doing at home if you can get your hands on the gochujang chili powder, this can not be substituted for other chili powders.
Before staring this recipe you'll need to find gochujang chili powder and also be aware that the cabbage and salt must sit for 8-12 hours before the rest of the process can continue! It's best to start this recipe the night before you want to make it so that it can do its thang over night.
Nappa Cabbage Kimchi
1 medium Nappa cabbage
1/4 cup kosher salt (note that kosher salt is not the same as other salts! use kosher salt here)
2-4 Tbsp fish sauce **see note below for vegetarian/vegan fish sauce
1/4-1/3 cup cold water
1 Tbsp sugar
6-7 garlic cloves, minced
1-3 tsp ginger, peeled and minced (use a microplane)
3 green onions, finely chopped
3 Tbsp gochujang chili powder
Cut the nappa cabbage in half, length-wise. Trim any brown or badly torn leaves.
Lay half the cabbage down on a cutting board, cut side down, slice into 1/2 inch wide strips. Avoid cutting the hard, core area. Discard it as it's not pleasant to eat.
Wash/rinse the cabbage in cold water and spin dry in a salad spinner. If you don't have a salad spinner (I don't) simply lay out a large bath towel, take handfuls of wet cabbage and sprinkle in one layer all over the towel. Then roll it up like a jelly roll and give it a few good squeezes. I let mine sit for a few minutes so the towel can absorb the water. Then unroll and continue.
Spread the cabbage in 1 inch layers in a large bowl or roasting pan, spreading the salt over each layer as you go.
Cover the cabbage with a tea towel and let sit in the fridge or a very cool place for 8-12 hours.
Wash/rinse the cabbage with fresh water 2-3 times to remove the overly salty taste and spin dry again. Or towel dry!
Place the cabbage in a large bowl (metal works well here)
Blend the garlic and ginger in a mortar and pestle.
Drizzle the fish sauce, cold water, and sugar over the cabbage. Add the garlic and ginger paste.
Add the chopped onions.
Dust the chili powder over top.
*with gloved hands* mix the ingredients until uniform in color. If you don't have gloves, use some metal tongs to mix it all up and also use those tongs to insert the kimchi into the glass jars.
Pack into clean mason jars, clean rims and then use a clean lid to seal.
Let the jar stand at room temp on the counter for 4-6 hours, to get the fermentation going.
Place in fridge and let sit for at least one week - I have a hard time waiting!
Check jar lid occasionally to release built up pressure.
Note - you can make this recipe vegetarian/vegan by using the following instead of fish sauce.
2 Tbsp tamari (or soy sauce if not gluten-free)
2 Tbsp coconut sugar (plus more to taste)
1/4 cup pineapple juice (from a can)
1/4 cup warm water
Add all ingredients to a small mixing bowl and whisk to combine.