Last Updated: June 17, 2020
You’d think that kimchi only comes in jars at the Korean section of the supermarket, but it turns out you can whip some up yourself. It might seem a little intimidating when you see the laundry list of ingredients but trust me, once you make your first batch, you won’t want to stop.
I have to admit, this recipe is a little step up from our usual Simple Stay-home recipes, but it’s easier than it looks. Plus, you can even pair this recipe with our Easy Kimchi Fried Rice, and you’ll be unstoppable.
Not to mention, fermented food and especially kimchi has many health benefits. For one, kimchi is chock-full of good bacteria that will do wonders for your gut health and is also high in vitamins and minerals.
Before we get down and dirty with good ole gochujang, I do have to mention that making kimchi is highly personal—you can put your own spin to it. So, don’t be too restricted by this recipe. If you like it spicy, go heavy on the chilli flakes; or if cabbage is not to your liking, then replace it with vegetable of your choice. Besides being the name of a dish, kimchi is also a method of cooking.
Preparation time: 50 minutes
Step 1: Slice the napa cabbage in half. Make sure not to slice off the root; you’ll want the napa cabbage intact.
Step 2: Then, cover the napa cabbage with salt. Make sure you get salt on every part of the cabbage, so really get in there.
Subsequently, leave the cabbage to marinate for at least half an hour to overnight. You’ll start to see water pooling in the bottom of the bowl of the cabbages. The longer you leave the cabbage, the more water will draw out.
Step 3: In the meantime time, julienne your radish and carrot.
Here is how you do it: First, cut your radish into rectangles of even thickness.
Afterwards, stack the radish rectangles together and cut through. You should get these thin radish matchsticks.
The same goes for your carrots. It’s a new skill if you are a novice in the kitchen, but be patient with yourself—it will be a skill that will serve you for a long time.
Step 4: Next, chop the chives.
Step 5: Place all the chopped vegetables in a bowl and set aside.
Step 6: Skin and cut the Chinese pear into half. Peel the ginger and roughly chop them. You don’t have to be so fussy with this step since these are going into the food processor.
Step 7: Then, peel the garlic cloves and set aside.
Step 8: Place the garlic, Chinese pear and ginger into the food processor and blend them till smooth. Set this aside.
Step 9: Now, you will make a paste with the flour and water. Place two tablespoons of flour and water into a saucepan and stir until the mixture has a paste-like consistency. Then, place the saucepan over medium heat and stir vigorously until the paste is thick.
Step 10: In a separate bowl, combine your Korean chilli flakes, fermented shrimp, fish sauce, gochujang with the pureed pears and garlic.
This is where you can decide how you like your kimchi, for something fiery add more Korean chilli flakes and gochujang. If not, you can ease up on the chilli flakes.
Step 11: Work the paste into the vegetables until all the vegetables are evenly coated.
Step 12: Remove the cabbage from the refrigerator if you have left it overnight. Rinse the napa cabbage thoroughly to get rid of the excess salt.
Step 13: Stuff the vegetables into the crevices of the napa cabbage. Repeat this process until you’ve stuffed all the napa cabbages.
You should end up with something like this. The best part of making kimchi is that you can enjoy your kimchi right there and then, should you want to.
For a more pronounced flavour, place your stuffed napa cabbage into an airtight container or jar. Then, store your kimchi in the refrigerator, and the flavour will continue to develop, the longer it ferments.
When you want to eat your kimchi, remove one of the cabbage heads and place it on the chopping board.
Cut your kimchi into even pieces, and you can serve or use it to make kimchi-jjigae. Even better, kimchi is best enjoyed with a slice of bossam (fatty pork shoulder)—those tangy, spicy flavours meld with richness of the pork.
While it might seem like a tedious process to make your own kimchi, it is utterly rewarding. I do have to caution that kimchi does have an exceptionally pungent smell, so when mixing the paste, you can use gloves. Also, be extra careful about how you store your jar. One wrong move and your entire refrigerator will smell like kimchi.
An impressive but relatively easy recipe to add to your repertoire, try this one out and tell us what you think!
Expected Damage: S$3 – S$4 per portion