Over the summer, I attended the Cook Out NYC preview party hosted at Jimmy Carbone’s restaurant, Jimmy’s No. 43 in the East Village and watched Kheedim Oh of Mama O’s Kimchee demonstrate how to make kimchi.
Intrigued and inspired, I thought of making it myself…eventually. That eventually was ten days ago when I drove to my local Korean grocery store and saw Napa cabbage was on sale and take the initiative to really make it.
It’s not exactly the kimchi recipe that I saw from the mentioned demonstration though the foundations of the recipe is there. I ended up making it slightly sweeter and pungent from the use of Asian pears and fish sauce. Please do note that you should purchase the Korean red chili pepper flakes because it’s very different from other types of chili.
Kimchi is delicious with a lot of things beyond just rice. It’s great on an bacon and egg sandwich, served as a side to fried chicken, great in fried rice, with certain meat-based stews, essentially, it’s good with almost anything savory.
4 heads Napa cabbage (about 5-8 pounds each), halved
3 whole heads of garlic, broken into cloves and peeled
1/3 pound of ginger
1 medium white onion, sliced into large cubes
2 whole Asian pears, sliced into large cubes
1 1/2 cups Korean red pepper flakes
1/2 cup fish sauce
10 teaspoons sugar
Juice of 1 lime
1 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped
2 bunches of scallions, sliced into 1-inch pieces
1. Get a clean large container (stainless steel pot or even a large cooler would work and it could fit all of your cabbage) and fill it with room temperature water. Add enough salt to make it salty like the ocean. (It’s general but it really depends upon the size of your container and how much water is in it). Submerge the cabbage in the salt water for 24 hours, until the cabbage becomes slightly soft and pliable.
2. While waiting for the cabbage, make the kimchi marinade. Take a food processor and purée the garlic, ginger, onion, Asian pear, red pepper flakes, fish sauce, sugar, and lime. If you are still in the process of waiting for the cabbage to be softened, you may store this marinade overnight in a tightly sealed container.
If your cabbage is soft and pliable, rinse and drain the cabbage. Chop the cabbage into 2 or 3-inch chunks and place it in a large bowl. Pour in the marinade and add the scallions and cilantro and mix with rubber gloves on since you’re dealing with hot peppers. Place all the contents of the bowl into containers that has a tightly fitted lids and cover. You may either slowly ferment this in the refrigerator (should take at least 3-5 days for some flavor) or leave it in a dark corner of a room and ferment it for a few days less. The longer time you ferment this kimchi, the more potent and funky it would taste.