Cabbage kimchi

  • Side
  • medium
  • Makes 8
  • 60 minutes
Not yet rated

Judy Joo shares her fantastic kimchi recipe, the pickled cabbage thought of as the national dish of Korea. Don't be intimidated by the idea of fermenting cabbage at home, Judy's recipe takes you through the whole process, step-by-step, resulting in authentic Korean kimchi with the perfect balance of sour, sweet and spicy flavour. This recipe will make about 4.5 litres of kimchi.

First published in 2016

Aside from barbecue, kimchi is probably the dish most synonymous with Korean cuisine. This fiery red, funky, fermented cabbage is on the table every meal – breakfast, lunch and dinner, 365 days a year. It is one of the cornerstones of Korean cooking, and Koreans consider it vital to their daily diet.

This recipe is an adaption of the one we use at my restaurant, Junjuu. Kimchi making may look daunting, but don’t worry, it’s really very straightforward. You’ll just need to have one or two very large bowls for the brining of the cabbage and a large container to ferment it in. Also, I highly recommend that you wear plastic or latex gloves while smearing the chilli paste onto the cabbage leaves. Otherwise, your hands will be tingling afterwards and the odour, while delicious, will linger on your skin.

Many Korean households purchase pre-made kimchi these days, and you can certainly do that and use it wherever kimchi is called for in my recipes, but please do try making this at least once.

While large glass jars or Korean earthenware containers are preferred for storing kimchi, they’re not always easy to find. Look in the housewares section of Asian markets for glass or plastic kimchi containers, which have become popular. You can also use any sturdy BPA-free plastic or other nonreactive containers with a total capacity of 4.5 litres (8 pints) for the kimchi.

Recipe extracted from Korean Food Made Simple: Easy and Delicious Korean Recipes to Prepare at Home by Judy Joo (Jacqui Small, £22). Photography by Jean Cazals




Cabbage kimchi


In a large bowl, stir together the warm water and 115g of the salt until the salt has dissolved. Set aside and leave to cool
Meanwhile, partially cut the cabbage in half lengthwise, starting from the root end and cutting about halfway to the top. Using your hands, pull the cabbage apart to split in half completely. Repeat so that each half is halved in the same way, which keeps the leaves intact and whole
Loosen the leaves of each wedge so that they are easy to spread. Sprinkle the remaining 115g of salt over and between all the leaves, salting the core area more heavily
Place the cabbage into a large bowl (use two if they don’t fit) cut-side up. Pour the cooled salted water over the cabbage, then pour enough cold water into the bowl to cover the cabbage; don’t overfill the bowl, as some liquid will be drawn out of the cabbage
Weigh down the cabbage with a plate so the wedges are completely immersed. Leave at room temperature for 6–8 hours, flipping the wedges halfway through
Rinse the wedges well under cold running water and gently squeeze out any excess moisture. Place the wedges, cut-side down in a colander and leave to drain for at least 30 minutes
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the onions, mushrooms, anchovies, spring onions, the 8 crushed garlic cloves and the seaweed and bring to the boil over a high heat. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer for 20 minutes. Strain the liquid, discarding the solids and leave the anchovy stock to cool completely
When the stock has cooled, combine the remaining garlic cloves, chilli flakes, fish sauce, salted shrimp, sugar and ginger in a food processor and blitz until smooth
Add enough of the stock to make a smooth paste, about 475 ml total. Discard any remaining stock. Transfer the spice paste to a large bowl and stir in the carrots, spring onions and radish
Rub the spice paste all over the cabbage wedges and between each leaf. Pull the outermost leaf of each wedge tightly over the rest of the wedge, forming a tidy parcel. Pack the wedges into one or more glass or other nonreactive containers with a tight fitting lid
Cling film directly on the surface of the kimchi, then cover. The kimchi can be eaten at this young stage or after it sits at room temperature and starts to get sour and ‘bubble’, about 2–3 days
Stir the kimchi in the fridge, where it will continue to ferment at a slower pace. I like to age mine at least 2 weeks, but it really is up to your personal preference. Cut the kimchi before serving
First published in 2016

Judy Joo is a French-trained, Korean-American chef, writer and restaurateur whose culinary expertise spans the globe.

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