Napa Cabbage Kimchi

Napa Cabbage

From the Editor: Please welcome Eve, CFH Customer Support Representative and Cultured Kitchen Keeper.

Kimchi is a fermentation style that originated in Korea. It is often served with every meal. When many Westerners think of Kimchi, they automatically think of Napa Cabbage Kimchi.

While Napa Cabbage Kimchi is made in the Fall, Kimchi can be made with many different vegetables year-round. Making Kimchi has always been a family activity and was traditionally stored many months in large earthenware vessels in the ground, called Onggi.

Napa cabbages can be brined whole and stuffed with seasoning paste or chopped into square pieces and seasoned. I make square cut Kimchi because it is faster to prepare and ferment as well as easier to snack on and use in recipes. To do so, cut the Napa in half and then in quarters. Core the Napa and chop the quarters into eights. Then chop the cabbage into 2 inch squares.

Lately I’ve been on a huge kimchi kick and I’m fairly certain that it is because I am hooked on fish sauce. Anchovy sauce is traditional, but fish sauce works well too! I found fish sauce in the Asian Foods section of my local grocery store, but it can be found online as well. Fish sauce is really tasty when cooked in coconut curries, burgers, pork, and chicken as well, so put it to good use if you invest.

Another essential ingredient in spicy Kimchi recipes is Korean Chili Pepper Flakes, or Gochugaru. It is important to select high quality Korean Chili Pepper flakes or powder. We are lucky to have many Asian grocery stores in town that carry Gochugaru, but it can also be ordered online. In the future I will develop a Vegan, non-spicy Kimchi, but that’s another post for another day….

Kimchi Bowl - Napa Cabbage

Kimchi is very flexible. Every family has their own unique recipe and methods. Don’t like something in the recipe? Leave it out! Have something extra lying around that needs to be used that you feel will compliment the flavors? Throw it in there! As always, experiment and find out what works best for you. If it’s not to your liking raw, use the Kimchi in cooking or recipes.

Here is a general process and recipe:

Square-Cut Kimchi

Makes about 2 quarts

  • 1 large or 2 small napa cabbages
  • 1/4 cup salt, kosher or sea salt
  • 1/4 cup water

Seasoning Paste:

  • 1/2 cup gochugaru, or Korean Chili Pepper Flakes
  • 2 teaspoons sugar, I prefer sugars with molasses
  • 4 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons grated or minced garlic
  • 2 or 3 tablespoons anchovy or fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons minced or julienne carrot (optional)
  • 1/2 cup thinly frenched onion (optional)

Other Optional Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup green onions without white portions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup diakon radish (I’ve never had great success with daikon, yet…)
  • 2 tablespoons salted shrimp or squid
  • Asian pears or pear juice is added in some recipes

Some people make a “sweet rice flour porridge” that they say helps the seasoning paste stick to the Napa better. I have never used it and have not thought that it needed it any help.

Eve Kimchi Bowl

How to Make It
1. Chop the Napa cabbage into squares and quickly rinse it with cold water.
2. Salt the Napa and let it sit for 1 hour, stirring the Napa halfway through.
3. Rinse the Napa with cold water to remove any traces of salt. The cabbage should be slightly wilted, but still crisp and slightly salty when you taste a piece. Allow the Napa to drain for about 15-20 minutes.
4. While the cabbage is brining, combine all of the ingredients in the seasoning paste and allow it to rest for at least 15 minutes.
5. Once the Napa is well drained and the seasoning paste has rested, mix the Napa, seasoning paste, and other optional ingredients together in a large mixing bowl until everything is well incorporated.
6. Pack the mixture into vessels of appropriate size.
7. Add 1/4 cup of water to the large mixing bowl and swirl it around to get as much of the seasoning paste out of the bowl as possible and then pour the 1/4 cup of water on top of your Kimchi. Weigh down the Kimchi to keep it below the brine. Place a lid on the jar tightly. My Kimchi took a day to produce enough brine, but it was fine.
8. This Kimchi can be consumed immediately or allow the Kimchi to culture at room temperature for 3-5 days, depending on your tastes. Keep a close eye on the Kimchi or place a plate under the jar as the Kimchi can overflow while fermenting. (Be careful when opening the Kimchi as it can bubble and fizz everywhere, i.e. don’t wear white)
9. Refrigerate the Kimchi and consume within a month or so, though Kimchi can last up to 6 months.

Eve

Eve

For my 7th grade Science Fair project I cultured yogurt. I received first place in my division and competed in a regional competition. My fascination with cultured foods has stuck with me ever since. Over the years I have made yogurt, fermented vegetables, sourdough, kombucha, and also love sprouting and dehydrating. In my spare time I like to knit, bike, garden, cook, and study natural medicine.

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Comments

  1. Chris says

    I found this recipe to be a bit confusing. Why is garlic listed twice? Do you make a brine or just salt the cabbage? I would like to try this. It sounds good.

    • says

      Chris – I believe the 2nd garlic is a typo and should read as ginger. I am in touch with Eve about this and will await her response before changing the recipe. If you read through the directions, Eve lists a step for salting and then rinsing the cabbage and a separate step to create a brine:

      “7. Add 1/4 cup of water to the large mixing bowl and swirl it around to get as much of the seasoning paste out of the bowl as possible and then pour the 1/4 cup of water on top of your Kimchi. Weigh down the Kimchi to keep it below the brine. Place a lid on the jar tightly. My Kimchi took a day to produce enough brine, but it was fine.”

      I hope that helps!

  2. Tom Lemmen says

    Eve: I”m not sure if you’ve fermented the kimchi as you made no mention of it. You do mention that it took a day for it to produce brine. but you do not mention any fermentation time. I get the impression you did because you note that the kimchi might fizz. and you weighed it down below the brine level. Have you thought about using an air lock?

    so… did you ferment this?
    Is the salt in the fish sauce enough to aid in the fermentation? what if someone can’t get fish sauce or anchovy paste, would canning salt do the job?

    I would like to produce some other veggies besides cabbage for kimchi. cucumbers? zuccini? squash? has anyone tried those?

    Please pardon the questions, i’m new to this. If I’m not making sense, just ignore.

    tom

    • says

      Tom – Step 8 lists the culturing process in the following way:
      “8. This Kimchi can be consumed immediately or allow the Kimchi to culture at room temperature for 3-5 days, depending on your tastes. ”

      If you don’t have access to fish or anchovy pastes or sauces, I would simply salt it to taste.

      You can absolutely use any vegetables you’d like with similar flavorings! I believe cucumbers and radishes are a fairly common type of kimchi, after the more traditional napa cabbage variety.

  3. salpos says

    In the seasoning paste part of the recipe, garlic is listed twice. I assume the 2 tsp grated or minced is supposed to be ginger.

  4. Sandra Cantrell says

    So, a culture is not needed, like Caldwells? I just made my first batch of Kimchi and Kale, etc. What I have tasted is too salty. In some of the ferments I used salt and culture starter, is that not necessary?

  5. Aeron says

    You have garlic listed twice… Typo? Looking forward to making this! I was just thinking I should get myself a recipe and viola! :)

    • says

      Aeron – I’m guessing it’s a typo and the 2 teaspoons is referencing ginger. I am contacting, Eve to confirm. Thanks for catching that!

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