I made my first batch of kimchi a while ago and since then my boyfriend is banning everything kimchi related from his life. He cannot handle the smell. Normally I can convince him that the new food he is eating is very delicious and healthy and such, but not with kimchi. I have to agree that the smell of kimchi is not exactly delicious, but that does not mean you should run away from it! The taste of good fermented kimchi is delicious and so good for your body!
Kimchi comes from Korea and is fermented cabbage. It is made by lacto-fermentation, which is the same fermentation that creates sauerkraut and traditional pickles. The cabbage is massaged in a salty brine to kill off the harmful bacteria. After, the remaining bacteria (Lactobacillus, the good ones!) convert the sugar into lactic acid, which gives the tangy flavour to the kimchi but also preserves the cabbage.
I do advise to work with kimchi if you have the ability to open your windows. Although the preparation of kimchi is not very smelly (yet), opening your pot after a few days may leave your house smelling for quite some time, which is a little unfortunate in my two-room apartment without doors, meaning it also smells like kimchi in the bedroom.
I have given up the hope of making kimchi at home (I kind of want to keep my boyfriend) so I go to my friends place now. Here I can make and eat kimchi and keep this fermented goodness in my life!
Today we want to share two variations of kimchi; one effortless easy cucumber kimchi and one mild kimchi with red cabbage. Both need to be prepared in advance before you can eat them, one a little longer than the other. For some people it might take some time to get used to the flavour (and smell) of kimchi but it is definitely worth it!
Fast cucumber kimchi
1 clove garlic
1 spring onion
2 tbsp rice vinegar
pinch of chili
Slice the cucumber and combine in a bowl with some salt. Let it sit for half an hour. Meanwhile, slice the garlic and spring onion and combine with the vinegar and chili in a glass jar. Drain the cucumbers and add them to the jar. Close the jar and leave in the fridge for 24 hours.
Mild red cabbage kimchi
1 napa cabbage
1 big carrot, julienned
¼ red bell pepper (paprika), juliened
½ red cabbage, shaved or julliened
½ tbsp salt
¼ red bell pepper (paprika), chopped
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 tbsp green onions (scallions), finely chopped
1 ½ tsp dried red chilli flakes (more if you like it spicy)
2 tsp honey
½ tbsp salt
Separate and wash the cabbage leaves, tear into small pieces and add to a big bowl. Add the salt to the bowl and let sit for a few minutes. Start massaging the cabbage so it loses water in order to form the brine.
Add all the ingredients for the seasoning to a blender and blend shortly to create the paste. Add the paste to the cabbage and massage again.
Once the cabbage leaves are coated in pasta and you have a good amount of water in the bowl, add the remaining vegetables and combine. Transfer the mixture into a big glass jar or pot and firmly pressure with your hands to push down the cabbage. Add all the liquid of the bowl to the pot as well. The cabbage should be completely covered by the liquid. Tightly close the lid and let it sit at room temperature for 2-3 days. Store the kimchi in the fridge when it is done.
* You may need to burp your kimchi every 24 hours to release some air and pressure.