Most of the things that I cook have a story and a life behind it.
Today, I would like to share with you the story behind kimchi. I first tasted kimchi when I was around 10 at my best friend’s house who happens to also be called Esther. Esther is a Kenyan born Korean, I used to spend a lot of time at Esther’s place as a child. During mealtimes, kimchi was always served as a side to the most delicious fried rice or plain rice. The rice at Esther’s place was the best rice I have ever had in life (not exaggerating). Anyway, this post is about kimchi not rice! The kimchi was so flavourful as well I immediately loved the taste of it on my tongue, therefore it is no wonder that many years later, I have learnt to make kimchi for myself and I eat it regularly as a side with everything and on everything.
This recipe is not traditional at all. If that is what you are after there are a ton of YouTube videos with authentic kimchi recipes. However, this recipe is tangy, spicy and tastes like the real deal! In this recipe I added apple to give it a winter twist.
What you will need:
1 medium-large Napa cabbage
1/2 cup of salt
For chilli paste:
2 tbsp sea salt
3/4 cup Gochugaru (Korean chilli flakes)
2 Tbsp sugar beet molasses
dash of water
3 cloves of crushed garlic (add more if you like)
1 knob of ginger (size depends on your preferences)
1 medium-sized white radish or daikon (i couldn’t find any daikon so i used radish)
1 small apple
1 leek chopped in circles
some chopped up chives (optional)
Cut off the bottom part of the napa cabbage, slice lengthwise in half, then cut across into 4 equal parts. Place the 4 pieces into a large bowl and fill with water till the cabbage pieces are well covered, add 1 1/2 cup of salt, cover the bowl and soak up to 24hrs.
The cabbage is well soaked if it no longer snaps when you bend it, it should be elastic. Once the cabbage is well soaked, drain and rinse with cold water and set aside. Make chili paste in a small bowl by adding all the ingredients and combining everything well together.
In a large bowl add all the vegetables and mix well. Then take a zip lock bag and wear it inside out (the zip lock bag will act as your gloves). Add the chilli paste to the vegetable mix, now add in the rinsed cabbage bit by bit and place in the zip lock bag. For this amount, I used two 1 litre zip lock bags.
Place the zip lock bags in an airtight container, and store in a dark cool place for three days if you like it very tangy and two days to one day if you prefer it less tangy. The reason I use zip-lock bags is so that the flavorful kimchi smell does not seep into the containers that I use as it is hard to get rid of.
Once the three days have passed, place in the fridge and leave it for another five days. However, you can also place it in the fridge and eat it one day after.
Remember if it tastes off follow your gut feeling and get rid of it as this is fermentation and you do not want to contaminate yourself!