After years of bringing home hit-or-miss supermarket kimchee, I took the plunge and created my own version. I’ve found it kind of exciting to have a “house kimchee” -- you can’t imagine the conversations it has started.
Consider this recipe a base from which you can build your own signature kimchee, adjusting the vegetables as you see fit. I use more carrots than most recipes because I love the color against the green of the cabbage and the spikes of scallion. You could add any sturdy vegetable or fruit, from radishes and rutabaga to Asian pears.
Don’t worry if you can’t track down the Korean red pepper gochugaru. My friend Quentin used ground New Mexican chili and it was simply delicious (though expensive).
I find kimchee pairs well with nearly everything: scrambled eggs, tucked into a sandwich or a tortilla, as a topping for hot dogs, stirred into soups and stews. I’ve even stuffed a chicken with rice and kimchee with wondrous results. Maybe you’ll be inspired to try kimchee-stuffed turkey this Thanksgiving?
Keeps 6 weeks refrigerated.
2 pounds Napa cabbage
Generous 1/2 cup kosher or coarse sea salt
5 scallions, trimmed, halved and cut into 1-inch pieces, green parts included
4 carrots, trimmed, peeled and cut into 2-inch matchsticks (see the video below for how to julienne)
4 tablespoons ground Korean red pepper gochugaru or other mild chili pepper like ancho, New Mexican, Anaheim, Aleppo or pasilla
1/4 cup fish sauce
1- to 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped, about 2 tablespoons
6 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon salted shrimp, roughly chopped (optional)
2 teaspoons sugar
1. Cut the cabbage in half lengthwise and remove the core. Cut the cabbage horizontally into 1 1/2- to 2-inch ribbons and place in a large bowl. Sprinkle with the salt. Massage the salt into the cabbage, breaking it down a little. Cover with cold water. Place a small plate on top of the cabbage to keep it submerged. Set aside for 2-4 hours.
2. Drain and rinse the cabbage with cold water. Gently squeeze out any excess liquid and return the cabbage to the bowl.
3. Add the scallions, carrots, ground pepper, fish sauce, ginger, garlic, salted shrimp (if using) and sugar to the bowl. Toss with your hands until the cabbage is evenly mixed with the other ingredients.
4. Pack the kimchee into a clean, dry, 2-quart jar and cover tightly with a lid. Set in a cool place for 24 hours. It may bubble a bit. Open the jar to let any gas escape, reseal and store in the refrigerator. It’s ready to eat in about 48 hours, and gets better as it ages.
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