Authentic Kimchi RecipeJump to Recipe
Kimchi, the national food of South Korea. Served as a side dish at almost every meal, it’s an indispensable part of the country’s diet. Although you can buy kimchi at the store, most Korean’s make it at home. Try your hand at it with our authentic homemade kimchi recipe!
A Little Bit About Kimchi
Kimchi isn’t limited to only fermented Napa cabbage. Kimchi is actually a collective term for vegetable dishes that have been salted, seasoned, and fermented. The history of kimchi goes back to ancient times. Originating from pickled vegetables, there are now hundreds of kimchi varieties in Korea. The most popular kinds being Napa cabbage (of course), radish and cucumber.
Kimchi works as a side dish for other Asian cuisines as well. Try making this kimchi recipe alongside with our Hot & Sour Shredded Potato Salad recipe.
Kimchi is so important in Korean culture that they have an annual event all about it. During the summer and spring months, kimchi is made fresh from seasonal vegetables. For one month, starting from the 10th lunar month of the year, Korean households make their own authentic kimchi recipe in large quantities in preparation for wintertime. This time of the year is also known as Gimjang.
Starting out as a necessity, making kimchi during Gimjang has become more a social bonding ritual. Many families, relatives and neighbours will get together to make kimchi together.
Brining the Cabbage
The first step in making an authentic kimchi recipe is to soak the cabbage leaves in salt brine. It’s a very essential step for a couple of reasons. The salt in the brine will kill any harmful bacteria on the cabbage leaves and leave room for good bacteria to grow during the fermentation process that gives every kimchi recipe its distinct tangy taste.
Brining the cabbage also draws water out from the cell walls of the leaves. This aids in preservation later and further enhances the flavour of the kimchi. It also allows the sauce to penetrate the cabbage better.
Health Benefits of Kimchi
In recent years, kimchi has gained popularity globally as a healthy probiotic food. Because kimchi is fermented, like yogurt, it contains “healthy bacteria” called lactobacilli that aids in the digestion process of your body. Another amazing by-product of its fermentation process is the probiotics can also fight off various infections. This useful lactic acid bacteria also has excellent anti-oxidation, -cancer and -ageing properties.
Kimchi is known to lower cholesterol levels as well. The garlic used in kimchi recipes contains allicin and selenium, both of which are helpful in decreasing the cholesterol reserves in the body. By reducing cholesterol, kimchi also indirectly decreases the chance of strokes and other cardiovascular diseases.
Facilitating healthy body development and clear vision is another health benefit of this kimchi recipe. A 100g serving of kimchi has 18 percent of your daily dose of vitamin A. Vitamin A is essential for body development, especially in children and embryos. It’s also an antioxidant that can help rid the body of free radicals that cause cancer and maintain healthy eyesight.
Read more about the different health benefits in this article.
These health benefits are all reasons to try this authentic kimchi recipe out today! Now let’s start this recipe!
Authentic Kimchi Recipe
- A Pair of Gloves
- Large Airtight Container
- Food Processor
- 1 large Napa cabbage ~5-6 lbs
- 1 cup coarse sea salt
- 5 cups water
- 1 lb Korean radish
- ¼ Korean pear
- 3-4 stalks scallion
- 1 tbsp glutinous rice powder
- ½ cup Korean red chilli pepper flakes gochugaru
- ¼ cup salted fermented shrimp saeujeot
- 3 tbsp fish sauce
- 6-7 cloves garlic
- 1-inch knob ginger
- Cut the cabbage in half lengthwise starting from the harder white part. Stop at the green area and carefully use your hands to separate the cabbage in half. This will keep more of the leaves intact. Then half it the same way again lengthwise to make quarters. Remove the hard stem from each piece and then cut each quarter into thirds. Separate the pieces and leaves. You can also opt to leave the cabbage in quarters.
- In a large bowl, dissolve 1 cup of salt in 5 cups of water to create a brine. Thoroughly bathe the cabbage pieces in the brine for 2 to 3 hours. Make sure all the leaves are covered. Top with water if needed. Rotate the bottom pieces to the top every hour.
- While the cabbage pieces are sitting in the brine, create the sauce.
Making the Sauce
- Mix the rice powder with ½ cup of water and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally until it thickens to a thin paste. Remove from heat and let it cool.
- Then peel rinse the garlic and ginger. Grate the ginger into a food processor and toss in the garlic cloves and salted fermented shrimp in as well. Turn on the food processor and combine the ingredients.
- After, add in the rice powder paste and the remaining seasoning ingredients to the food processor. Mix well. If you do not have a food processor, you can mince everything by hand and mix the ingredients together in a bowl.
- Peel the pear and radish and then chop them both into matchsticks. Prepare the scallions and then slice them diagonally into roughly 1-inch long pieces. Put the pear, radish and scallion into a large bowl and then scoop the sauce in as well. Make sure your bowl will be large enough to add in the cabbage later.
- Put some gloves and toss to mix the ingredients together with your hands.
- The cabbage should be ready by now. The hard white parts of the cabbage should be flexible now. Drain them and add to the radish and sauce mix.
- Mix the ingredients together, evenly coating everything in the sauce. Taste a little bit. It should be a little too salty to eat as is. Feel free to add more salt, salted shrimp, fish sauce or Korean pepper flakes to your taste. If it’s too salty, adding sugar can balance it out.
- After everything is mixed together well, put them all into the airtight jar. Really cram the kimchi into the jar to remove any air pockets. Make sure to scrape any leftover sauce into the jar as well.
- Once all the kimchi is inside the jar, put the lid on the container and leave it out at room temperature for 24 hours, depending on the weather and how fast you want your kimchi to ferment. Then, store the kimchi in the fridge. 12 hours is recommended during hot summer days. Enjoy your homemade kimchi!Note: Kimchi can also be eaten fresh and unfermented! Also, note that the longer you let it sit in the fridge afterwards, the more fermented the kimchi will taste. The full flavours of the kimchi normally come out after being stored in the fridge for 1 to 2 weeks.