How to Make Kimchee (Kimchi) from Scratch: Step by Step Guide with Photos!

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Kimchi has been one of my favorite things to eat for as long as I can remember. Unfortunately, many of the store bought brands have preservatives in them that do not allow fermentation to happen. Once I learned that a couple years ago, I began making my own. After years of friends asking me for the recipe, I am finally ready to share – I just needed time to get the taste down to my exact liking.

This is what  you’ll need:

  • 2 heads of Napa cabbage
  • kosher salt
  • 1 large bulb of garlic, or two medium bulbs
  • 1 medium onion
  • a chunk of fresh ginger
  • 5 organic green onions
  • coarse hot pepper powder (found at the Asian food store)
  • HOT chili powder (optional)
  • Red Boat fish sauce (optional)
  • Food processor

Now here’s how you do it…

Buy two or three heads of Napa Cabbage (2 large or three small). I have seen organic Napa at a select few places, and I always prefer that to conventionally grown, but use what you have available.  Clean with cold water, rinsing in-between each leaf as well as you can.

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Cut the cabbage in half length-wise and rinse again with cold water. Then cut a small slit into the core of the cabbage as seen below:

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Sprinkle Kosher salt in between each leaf, gently massaging the salt into the leaf and be sure to get down towards to core. The salt gives the cabbage flavor and also tenderizes it.

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After I am finished salting, I pile up the cabbage into a large pot and leave them for two hours. Then I turn them over and let them sit for two more hours. There are ways to speed up this process, but from my experience, I personally enjoy the flavor and texture best when I salt the cabbage for four hours.  Towards the end of the four hours, I’ll clean and prep my garlic, onion, green onions and ginger.

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After salting, rinse the cabbage with cold water 3-4 times to remove the salt. I usually set the rinsed cabbage in a colander so additional water can drip out.

Now it’s time to grab the food processor. Toss in the garlic, ginger and onion. Pulse until it is evenly chopped up and put into a bowl.

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Cut up the green onions into about 1″ pieces. I use the green and white portion. Add the green onions to the bowl as well. Then add in the hot pepper powder(s). The amount of heat you want your kimchi to have will determine how much hot pepper you add but I add about 1 cup of the powders total.

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Then add 1-2 tablespoons of fish sauce. I specifically say Red Boat fish sauce because it is only made from black anchovies and sea salt – no added water, no MSG, no preservatives.

Mix everything together and there you have your kimchee base.

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Grab the Napa cabbage, remove the cores and chop it up into bite size pieces. Once you have chopped it all up, grab the kimchi base and combine it with the cabbage. I use my hands for this part, but if you have sensitive hands then you might want to use some gloves.

Kimchi

Once mixed evenly, store the kimchee in sanitized, air-tight jars and leave on the counter for 5 days. You must “burp” the kimchi daily – this means open the jar, push down the cabbage and let any excess air escape. I do this twice a day, but I’m kind of obsessive over and I like to take a big wiff of it too. After 5 days, store in the fridge.

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You do not have to follow my recipe exactly. I tried a lot of different versions before I found what I liked best. If you are a huge fan of ginger, add extra. If you are looking for a very hot kimchi, add more spice. It will turn out great no matter what.

I’ve learned that kimchee makes everything taste better so be adventurous!

Enjoy!

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18 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Megan June
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 11:50:18

    Ok. That sounds simple enough. I might have to make that this summer.

    Can you tell me how summer heat might change the fermenting times? We don’t have air in our new place. Fermenting may be different at 67 degrees as compared to the 90 degrees I plan to endure this summer in my kitchen. I could ferment them downstairs in the basement. Yes. Problem solved. Unless you have another better Soloution. Thanks for the not-scary-at all recipie!

    Reply

    • MinnesotaFromScratch
      Feb 18, 2014 @ 12:06:49

      Yep! You answered your own question… keep it in the cool basement, just don’t forget about releasing the air daily or you’ll end up with a red kitchen like Eric and Rhonda did a couple months ago ;)

      Reply

  2. Allison A
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 12:49:01

    Yum. I had kimchee with bone broth this morning. Does it get any better?

    Reply

  3. Kirsitn
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 18:49:05

    This looks quite tasty I will have to try it!

    Reply

  4. the RIB KING AKA Captain Heavy
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 21:39:34

    Stephanie i hear you make a killer pickle beets can you place it on the website

    thank you Rib King AKA captain Heavy

    Reply

  5. Trackback: The Paleo Diet: Our 30-Day Update | MinnesotaFromScratch
  6. Barbara
    Mar 17, 2014 @ 17:02:02

    Just delicious; I think, if I made this for my family, I would add pepper flakes to reduce the heat. This is a great idea to get veggies while spicing it up.

    Reply

  7. outersparkle
    Mar 17, 2014 @ 18:41:22

    I’ve never had this before nor have heard of it. Would love to try it,but most definitely will not be making it,(cooking challenged) lol what origin is it?

    Reply

  8. Risa
    Mar 18, 2014 @ 19:26:48

    My husband has a friend that eats kimchee and it STINKS! Does it stink? Just curious!

    Reply

  9. MinnesotaFromScratch
    Mar 18, 2014 @ 19:50:46

    My husband says it stinks too, but personally, the smell of garlic and ginger just makes my mouth water. You either love it or hate it. I LOVE it!!!

    Reply

  10. livehealthywithpattyblog
    Mar 21, 2014 @ 12:08:11

    Looks yummy!!! WIll be trying this!! Thank you for sharing.

    Reply

  11. Allison A
    Apr 22, 2014 @ 13:45:17

    Just got done with my third batch :) I added some cayenne pepper and smoked paprika to the recipe, worked great. Thanks again for posting this.

    Reply

  12. Bali tour
    Apr 22, 2014 @ 16:52:31

    Good article
    Thanks for the recipe

    Reply

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