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

IMG_4620

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
  • Half a bulb of garlic (More if you prefer more, less if you prefer less)
  • 1 medium onion
  • a chunk of fresh ginger (again… add more if you like a prevalent ginger flavor)
  • 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.

001

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:

003

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.

005

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.

009

After salting, rinse the cabbage with cold water 3-4 times to remove the salt.

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.

IMG_4592

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.

IMG_4594

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.

IMG_4597

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.

Kimchi

Once mixed evenly, store the kimchee in sanitized, air-tight jars and leave on the counter for 5-7 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 5-7 days, store in the fridge.

IMG_4615

You do not have to follow my recipe exactly. I tried a lot of different versions before I found what I liked best. Play around with the ingredients until you come up with what you like. If you are looking for a very hot kimchi, add more spice. It will turn out great no matter what. No two batches ever turn out exactly the same. I suggest taste testing the kimchi daily so you can see how as it ferments, the taste changes.

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

Enjoy!

(function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i['GoogleAnalyticsObject']=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){ (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o), m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,'script','//www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js','ga'); ga('create', 'UA-41549617-1', 'wordpress.com'); ga('send', 'pageview');