Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Making kimchi

A little while ago I wrote a post about cabbage and how I learnt to love it after traumatic experiences of an Australian suburban childhood  with coleslaw, burnt bbq'ed meat and lawn mowers (it's only a slight exageration).

One of the cabbage eureka moments was experiencing kimchi in Northern China  from ethnic Korean roadside stalls and little restaurants. Writing about it made we wonder how it was made.

The other day I bought a Gourmet Traveller compilation of Asian  Favourites and one of the recipes  included a recipe for kimchi!  A happy coincidence.

Now, first a warning ... I am about to break one of my self-imposed rules for this blog... only put recipes in your blog that contain at least one of your home grown ingredients.  The following recipe breaks that rule, but I was so excited by the outcome I wanted to share it with you.

Cabbage kimchi
(from Gourmet Traveller, Asian Favourites Cookbook 2012, page 156)

1/2 Chinese cabbage (I used 1/2 a wombok)
7 gms ginger finely grated
1 clove garlic finely chopped
1/2 bunch garlic chives coarsely chopped
2 tsp sea salt flakes (but I used just ordinary granular sea salt)
1/4 cup Korean chilli powder

Cut out the hard stalky core of the cabbage and discard and roughly chop the rest of the cabbage. Combine all  ingredients into a large bowl and mix.  Place into a non-reactive bowl, cover and place in the fridge. 

The recipe says it will take 3-5 days for a light fermentation to take place and could be left longer for a deeper fermentation.

Just a note on the Korean chilli powder -  here it is. I got it from the local Asian grocery shops that are a delightful part of my suburb. The only way I could buy it was in a massive bag 1 pound (453g) pack. I figured that  seeing as I needed 1/4 cup for half a cabbage, I would use it so bought it despite the fact that I normally buy my herbs and spices in small amounts to preserve their flavour.

But I was intrigued ... how would it ferment without any liquid?  You know kimchi -  it is wet with a lovely redish chilli liquid, where would it come from?  It seemed to me that  there was so much cabbage that two teaspoons of salt wouldn't  be enough to draw liquid from the cabbage but I did as I should with a new recipe and trusted it.

Here is the result after 2 days.The cabbage still looked firm...

but the liquid is starting to form on the bottom of the bowl. I decided to mix it thru.

And here is the result after 3 days. Starting to look skloopy like it should isn't it?

It tastes just  like a mild kimchi right now, I am going to leave it a few more days to see how it goes. At today's tasting, I reckon it might benefit from a little more ginger, but I will trust the recipe and see how it goes this time without changing it.

Now Gourmet Traveller haven't paid me or anything, but flicking thru this compilation, I can see so many recipes I will be trying, thus the pink tags. Yum.

And I am going to be growing wombok...


  1. In fact I think you should go the whole hog and grow all the ingredients, although I have no idea what variety of chilli they use. Something to research perhaps. Having said that my garlic chives keep getting attacked by black aphids and I'm finding it very annoying!

    1. I think you are right. I actually have a packet of garlic chive seeds ready to go in and a little ginger might be possible in Sydney.

  2. I'm saving that recipe, thanks! My daughter loves kimchi and when we were in Fitzroy recently, I bought her a big tub of it. I also love anything with a kick so I'll definitely give making this a go, sometime.

    There is no way I will be able to source that chilli locally so I'll ask her to find some in Melbourne and bring it when she comes home next time. How long do you think the kinchi will keep, refrigerated?

    1. I am sure she will find the chilli in Melbourne. I have no idea how long it will last but I will try to remember to give you an update.

      500m2 in Sydney has a kim chi recipe too that is quite different to this one. She's in my blog roll to the right.

  3. Looks like it'll be good with noodle soup. I think I'll give the recipe a next week.

    1. I am thinking of lots of things to do with it... I have lots to use up. I once had a great fried rice in northern China with kimchi in it. AND I have just found a recipe for kimchi pancakes that I am going to try for lunch tomorrow. Your idea of it with a noodle soup is great too. I must admit to a penchant for fangbian mian ( or instant noodles) with kimchi. It makes instant noodles MUCH better.

  4. Sorry I know this sounds like a silly question but where did you buy the Asian Favourites cookbook? I've been to several newsagents and they're only selling the July edition (French flavours). Really excited about the idea of an Gourmet Traveller Asian compilation!

    1. Hi Chloe, I bought it at a newsagent near Westmead Hospital in Sydney. But I also saw one the other day at a newsagent in Marrickville.



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