If you’ve ever eaten at your Korean friend’s house, or casually gorged on some excellent food at your local Korean restaurant, then you’ve probably tasted kimchi. Kimchi is a spicy pickled cabbage that originated from Korea and is a go-to accompaniment to a typical Korean diet. In a fix for dinner? Some kimchi and rice topped with a fried egg can solve that! Most people think that you need to go to a specialty store in order to get it, but there is an easy way to make some at home if you stock up on some key ingredients.
- cutting board
- very large mixing bowl
- garlic smasher (if you’d like, or you can use your knife)
- peeled garlic
- sesame oil
- ginger – cut into think length-wise or jullienne them
- green onions or leeks – cut into 1 inch sections (or longer strips if you prefer)
- red pepper flakes (this is something you would have to order online or get from a Korean store; they are not your regular pepper flakes or red pepper flakes that is typically seen at a local grocery store)
- nappa cabbage
You should take note that the amount of ingredients you put in are going to be according to your taste. Some people prefer more spice, some people prefer less. This is also true for how much salt you put in.
Prep your cabbage!
In order to get the “right taste” you need to prepare the nappa cabbage ahead of time. This involves washing and cutting the cabbage into a manageable size. I like to cut smaller cabbage heads into either quarters or halves length-wise, first starting down the middle.
– Next, you need to make sure that you have a huge bowl. I mean super huge. I use a dedicated giant bowl meant solely for kimchi.
– Take the cabbage that you have cut and washed, then proceed to salt the cabbage, placing them into your very large bowl. Don’t be shy and salt it a lot, spreading the leaves and getting your salt in between each leaf if you’d like. You can always rinse off the excess salt later!
– After liberally salting your cabbage, let it sit for approximately 30 minutes.
After the appropriate time has passed, you can start mixing in the rest of the listed ingredients! I like to put in about a tablespoon of sugar, 1 tablespoon of sesame oil (avoid putting in too much, but I never really measure oil out in these cases), half a cup of red pepper flakes, and approximately 5 cloves of smashed garlic, 3 stalks of chopped green onions, and around 1 inch of ginger that has been julienned.
I recommend wearing gloves while doing this next part!
Now that all the ingredients are in the bowl, simply use your hands to mix them all together until the pepper flakes are evenly distributed. Take a taste to sample and ensure that you have something you would like to eat. Fresh cabbage will taste naturally sweeter and be more delicious.
Place your newly made kimchi into a sealable container and store it in the fridge for later! It lasts for years depending on how old you like your kimchi, and you can stir-fry it, put it in soups, or just as a side dish when you’re drinking rice wine.