Cabbage kimchi

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Judy Joo's spicy cabbage kimchi takes a bit of time to prepare, but the results are fantastic. You can use kimchi in all sorts of dishes, from sandwiches and salads to Judy's kimchi macaroni and cheese recipe!

You will need a large storage container or fermentation jar for this recipe.

Ingredients

  • 225g/8oz coarse salt
  • 2.5kg/5lb 8oz Korean cabbage (or Chinese cabbage), bottoms trimmed, tough outer leaves discarded
  • 2 small onions, roughly chopped
  • 12 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 10 large dried anchovies, heads and guts removed
  • 18 spring onions, 6 roughly chopped, 12 cut into 5cm pieces
  • 64 garlic cloves, 8 crushed, the rest peeled and left whole
  • 1 x 25cm/10in piece dried kelp (or kombu), cut into pieces
  • 250g/9oz Korean chilli flakes
  • 210g/7oz fish sauce
  • 10 tbsp salted shrimps, rinsed
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 x 18cm/7in piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and julienned
  • 200g/7oz Korean white radish (or mooli), peeled and julienned

Method

  1. To make the cabbage kimchi, dissolve 110g/3¾oz salt in 2 litres/3½ pints warm water and leave to cool. Meanwhile, partially cut the cabbages in half lengthways, starting from the root and cutting about halfway to the top. Pull the cabbages apart with your hands, keeping the leaves intact as much as possible. Loosen the leaves of each wedge and sprinkle the remaining 115g/4oz salt over and between all the leaves, salting the core area more heavily.

  2. Put the cabbage in a large bowl, cut-side up. Pour the cooled salted water over the cabbage, then pour enough cold water into the bowl to cover the cabbage. Don’t overfill the bowl, as some liquid will be drawn out of the cabbage. Weigh down the cabbage with a plate so the wedges are completely immersed. Leave at room temperature for 6–8 hours, flipping the wedges halfway through.

  3. Rinse the wedges well under cold running water and gently squeeze out any excess moisture. Put the wedges, cut-side down, in a colander and leave to drain for at least 30 minutes.

  4. Meanwhile, place the onions, mushrooms, anchovies, 6 roughly chopped spring onions, 8 crushed garlic cloves and kelp in a small saucepan with 500ml/18fl oz of water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain the liquid, discarding the solids and leave to cool completely.

  5. When the stock has cooled, combine the remaining garlic cloves, chilli flakes, fish sauce, salted shrimp, sugar and ginger in a food processor and process until smooth. Add enough of the stock to make a smooth paste, about 475ml/17fl oz in total. Discard any remaining stock. Transfer the spice paste to a large bowl and stir in the carrots, spring onion pieces and radish.

  6. This is a good time to sterilise your jars. Give your jars a good wash in hot, soapy water (or run them through the dishwasher) then bake in the oven at 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4 for 10–15 minutes.

  7. Using rubber gloves to protect your hands, rub the spice paste all over the cabbage wedges and between each leaf. Pull the outer leaf of each wedge tightly over the rest of the wedge, forming a tidy parcel. Pack the wedges into one or more sterilized glass or other non-reactive containers with tight-fitting lids until it comes to just under the top of the container. There is no need to pack it too tightly but you don’t want too much air to reach the surface of the vegetables. Cover the kimchi directly with a piece of cling film, then with a secure lid over the top.

  8. The kimchi can be eaten straight away, or you can leave it to ferment for a few days in a cool, dark place. Taste the kimchi – If it tastes spicy, sour and slightly cheesy with a good umami flavour, it can be transferred to the fridge to slow down the fermentation. Chop up the kimchi before serving.

Recipe Tips

In particularly warm weather, you may see small bubbles appearing in the kimchi, which shows the vegetables are creating the lactic acid needed to preserve them. Even in the fridge, you may need to ‘burp’ the container to release the gas after a few days. If you are dipping in regularly, you may inadvertently introduce other bacteria to the jar, so it's best consumed within a week or two.

This recipe makes a large amount of kimchi so feel free to reduce some of the quantities if you want to make a smaller batch.