I call this “Simple Homemade Kimchi” because “Easy Kimchi” would feel like a lie if you’ve never made kimchi before. This is a very simple recipe for kimchi, but it takes a few steps to get it done, y’all.
Kimchi is Korea’s national dish, so hundreds of “official” recipes exist. Many include making a cooked flour paste that contains a salted and fermented baby shrimp product called Saeujeot. Saeujeot can be a little overpowering for first-time kimchi makers, so I’ve provided a simple recipe that gets its flavor from fish sauce and fermentation. In most cases, the flour paste is made from rice flour, but you’ll want to review the ingredients on store-bought kimchi to make sure the product is gluten-free.
You don’t need fermented baby shrimp for this recipe, but you will need to pick up some gochugaru, which is a Korean red pepper powder. It also comes in paste form, and that will work in a pinch if that’s all you’ve got. You’ll also need some unseasoned rice vinegar and some gluten-free fish sauce. Both of those ingredients have become staples in my pantry – I use the rice vinegar all summer long for Simple Cucumber Salad.
You could use unrefined brown sugar instead of the coconut sugar, but don’t use refined or white sugar.
- 1 large chinese or napa cabbage, about 2 lbs/1 kg
- 1/4 cup (50 g) sea salt (not iodized salt)
- 7 cloves garlic, grated
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- 2 teaspoons coconut sugar
- 2 tablespoons gluten-free fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 3 tablespoons gochugaru red pepper powder (Korean pepper), or more to taste
- 8 ounces (227 g) daikon radish, peeled and cut into fine julienne strips
- 4 green onions, halved lengthwise and cut into 1 1/2 inch (4 cm) lengths
- Filtered water
Split the cabbage in half and remove the core. Rinse the leaves well under running water. Then trim the leaves into 2 inch (5 cm) strips crosswise through the stems.
Place the trimmed cabbage in a large bowl, cover with the salt, and massage to coat each leaf with salt, paying special attention to the stem sections. Add enough filtered water to fill the bowl and cover the cabbage, and allow to stand for 2 hours, tossing occasionally. The cabbage is ready when the leaves are limp and bend easily without breaking.
Drain the cabbage and rinse it thoroughly, at least 2-3 times. Allow the cabbage to drain completely after rinsing. Rinse and dry the large bowl.
In a small bowl, combine the garlic, ginger, coconut sugar, fish sauce, rice vinegar and gochugaru. Then return the cabbage to the large bowl, and add the daikon and green onions. *You may want to put on gloves at this point.*
Add the gochugaru mixture to the cabbage mixture, and toss to coat, rubbing the spice mixture into each cabbage leaf thoroughly. Then pack the kimchi into a sterilized jar or other airtight container, leaving about 1 inch (2.5 cm) between the kimchi and the lid. Keep the jar at room temperature for 2 days, it should begin to ferment and smell slightly sour. Then open the jar and use a clean spoon to push the kimchi down into the brine and refrigerate. You may want to eat the kimchi now, but it’s best after being refrigerated for at least a week.
photos by Katie Roletto from our days at Love With Food