What Exactly Is Kim Chi?
If you aren’t familiar with Kim Chi, it is a dish that is a staple in authentic Korean Cuisine! The word is a collective term for this traditional side dish, which is made using salted and fermented vegetables. The vegetables used in the dish can vary, however, the basic base uses napa cabbage or Korean radish. The Kim Chi recipe we will be showing you today uses the cabbage!
Don’t worry if you’ve never made this dish before! When made in a smaller batch, it’s actually quite easy to prepare. This particular Kim Chi recipe creates 1 large jar worth of serving (enough for about 8).
What Do You Need To Make Kim Chi?
As I said before, this particular recipe yields a smaller amount, making it easy to make. Coming from the blog Korean Bapsang, you are getting the perfect traditional Kim Chi recipe! The only kitchen tools you need are probably right in your cabinets!
The kitchen tools needed are:
- 2 large bowls or pots (about 7-8 quarts)
- A large colander
- Kitchen gloves
- 3/4 – 1 gallon airtight container or jar
When it comes to the perfect Kim Chi recipe, the key to success is in the spices. Some typical seasonings you will find in Kim Chi include gochugaru, ginger, onions, and garlic.
For this particular Kim Chi recipe, the seasonings required are:
- 1 tablespoon glutinous rice powder
- Mix it with 1/2 cup water and simmer over low heat until it thickens to a think paste and cool
- 1/2 cup gochugaru, Korean red chili pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup salted shrimp, finely minced
- 3-4 raw shrimps (about 2 ounces), finely minced or ground
- 3 tablespoons myulchiaekjeot, fish sauce
- 3 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds (optional)
- 1/2 cup water or dashima (dried kelp) broth
Your regular ingredients are as followed:
- 1 large Napa cabbage
- 1 cup Korean coarse sea salt
- 5 cups water
- 1 pound Korean radish, mu or moo
- 1/4 Korean pear (optional)
- 3 – 4 scallions
- 1 piece dashima (Boil in 1 and 1/2 cups of water for 5 minutes)
Now that we have gathered all of our ingredients, it’s time to start our preparation!
How To Make It
Although they seem lengthy, take each step at a time. Consisting of 10 steps, it only takes 1 hour of prep!
- Cut the thick white part of the cabbage lengthwise in half. Then, slowly pull apart by hand to separate into two pieces. Do the same for each half to make quarters. Running the knife through all the way would unnecessarily cut off the cabbage leaves
- In a large bowl, dissolve 1/2 cup of salt in 5 cups of water. Thoroughly bathe each cabbage quarter in the salt water one at a time, shake off excess water back into the bowl, and then transfer to another bowl.
- Using the other half cup of salt and starting from the outermost leaf, generously sprinkle salt over the thick white part of each leaf (similar to salting a piece of meat). Try to salt all the cabbage quarters with 1/2 cup salt, but you can use a little more if needed. Repeat with the rest of the cabbage quarters. Pour the remaining salt water from the first bowl over the cabbage. Set aside for about 6 – 8 hours, rotating the bottom ones to the top every 2 – 3 hours.
- The cabbages should be ready to be washed when the white parts of the leaves are easily bendable. Rinse thoroughly 3 times, especially between the white parts. Drain well, cut side down.
- Meanwhile, make the optional dashima broth by boiling a small piece (2 to 3 inch square) in 1.5 cup of water for 5 minutes, and cool. Mix the rice powder with 1/2 cup water (or optional dashima broth) and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until it thickens to a thin paste, and cool.
- Prepare the garlic, ginger and saeujeot. Combine all the seasoning ingredients, including the rice paste and about 1/2 cup water (or the optional dashima broth), and mix well. Set aside until the red pepper flakes to dissolve slightly and become pasty.
- Cut the radish and optional pear into matchsticks (use a mandoline if desired), transferring to a large bowl. Cut the scallions diagonally into about 1-inch long pieces. Add the prepared seasoning mix to the radish, and mix well by hand. Throw in the scallions, and mix everything lightly. Taste a little bit. It should be a little too salty to eat as is. You can add salt, more salted shrimp or fish sauce, as needed. Let it sit for about 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld nicely.
- Cut off the tough stem part from each cabbage quarter, leaving enough to hold the leaves together. Place one cabbage quarter in the bowl with the radish mix. Spread the radish mix over each leaf, one to two tablespoons for large leaves. (Eyeball the stuffing into 4 parts and use one part for each cabbage quarter.)
- Fold the leaf part of the cabbage over toward the stem and nicely wrap it with the outermost leaf. Place it, cut side up, in a jar or airtight container. Repeat with the remaining cabbages. Once all the cabbages are in the jar or airtight container, press down hard to remove air pockets. Rinse the bowl that contained the radish mix with 1/2 cup of water (or any remaining optional dashima broth) and pour over the kimchi.
- Leave it out at room temperature for a full day or two, depending on the weather and how fast you want your kimchi to ripen. A half-day is recommended during hot summer days. Then, store in the fridge.
An important note from the chef: Although you can eat this Kim Chi right away, in order to fully develop the flavors, it needs about 2 weeks in the fridge. It will continue to age in your fridge and stay delicious for a couple of months!