Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Quick Cabbage Kimchi

Recently, my local grocery store started stocking Napa cabbage. Napa cabbage is also known as Chinese cabbage and it's the main ingredient in the most commonly made baechu kimchi (baechu is Korean for cabbage). Unfortunately, the day I decided to buy some Napa cabbage and make kimchi, my market did not have any daikon (white radish) so I ended up making the lazy person's kimchi.

This kimchi recipe is relatively quick and simple and doesn't require as much effort as traditional baechu kimchi but it's still yummy.
Ingredients:
3 lbs Napa cabbage
½ cup coarse sea salt
1 bulb garlic, minced (yes, a whole bulb!)
2 tablespoons grated ginger
¼ cup hot pepper flakes (gochugaru; to taste)
4 to 5 scallions, chopped
2 to 3 tablespoons fish sauce (to taste)
1 tablespoon sugar

Start by chopping the butt off of the cabbage and separating the leaves. Rinse the cabbage under cold running water to get rid of any dirt or sand that got trapped in between the leaves while it was growing. Then, chop up the cabbage into small, bite-sized pieces.

Note: my mom used to sort of hack at the cabbage with the grain and just tear it apart into strips with her hands into huge pieces. I do NOT like the cabbage cut that way because 1) the pieces are big so I have to bite them and 2) it's really hard to bite through the fibers of the cabbage against the grain. So, I rebel against my mom's methods and chop the cabbage my way.
Place all of the chopped cabbage in a large bowl and salt generously and toss together with your hands. Salting the cabbage will draw out some of the moisture and start the pickling process. Pulling some of the water out of the cabbage will allow it to suck up more of the seasoning flavors. Set the salted cabbage aside for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, chop up some scallions (greens and whites), mince some garlic (or send it through a garlic press like I did), and grate some ginger.
After 30 minutes of sitting in salt, the cabbage is ready to take a bath. You'll notice that the cabbage no longer feels crisp and crunchy but instead is kind of limp and flexible and has reduced in volume. What was once a full bowl is now three-quarters full. There will also be a pool of cabbage-y water in the bottom of the bowl. That's evidence that the salt was drawing moisture out of the leaves. Rinse the cabbage three times. I like to fill the bowl with clean, cold water, swirl the cabbage around a few times with my hands, dump the water, and repeat.
Drain the cabbage well. Add the scallions, garlic, ginger, hot pepper flakes (gochugaru), sugar, and fish sauce to the bowl.
Use a gloved hand to start mixing the kimchi.
Keep mixing and massaging and you'll notice that at first, the hot pepper flakes just look like little dots speckling the white cabbage but after a while, they'll start to make a sauce and the kimchi will start to actually turn red.
I like to keep mixing until there's a substantial amount of red liquid sitting in the bottom of the bowl. Give the kimchi a taste and add more hot pepper flakes and/or fish sauce, as necessary.
Then, put the kimchi into an air-tight container.
Leave the kimchi out at room temperature for two to three days so that it can ferment and develop that stinky, awesome kimchi flavor.
And then, you can serve it alongside a bowl of rice and other banchan.
Here's the recipe page:

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