Kimchi is a fermented vegetable dish that has become a staple in almost all Korean cuisine and considered to be the national dish of Korea. The existence of kimchi has been found dated as far back as the Three Kingdoms (37BC – 7AD). During the winter months, kimchi was prepared by placing in traditional brown ceramic pots (onggi) and buried underground to start the fermentation process.
There are numerous versions of kimchi from the vegetable used, how the vegetable is cut, and how spicy it may or may not be. The most popular and well-known version, especially in the US, utilizes napa cabbage. The seasonings typically used are salt, garlic, ginger, scallions, gochugaru (chili pepper), and salted seafood. Other versions add sugar and/or may omit the gochugaru. Instead of napa cabbage, other popular vegetables include radish, green onion, soybean sprouts, cucumbers, etc.
Kimchi is typically considered as a side dish (banchan); however, can be used as a key ingredient to many other Korean dishes such as being the base for a soup, mixed with rice, or mixed into a pancake batter. Due to the fermentation process, kimchi is known to have many probiotic health benefits.
2 1/2 lbs. napa cabbage
1/2 sheet nori
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 radishes, trimmed
1 tbsp. fresh ginger
1 tsp. sugar
3 tbsp. Korean red pepper flakes
Peel the napa cabbage into strips and rinse it. Add cabbage to the mixing bowl with 1/4 cup of salt, and then mix.
Add water to the bowl until the cabbage is covered. Cover the bowl with a heavy plate and let it sit overnight. Pour the mixture through a strainer to drain the water. Rinse the cabbage and allow it to drain for about 15 minutes. Set aside.
Get a small mixing bowl and add one tablespoon of water, 1/2 sheet of nori (cut into small pieces), sugar, and Korean red pepper flakes. Mix the ingredients into a paste. Add a tablespoon of salt and two cups of water.
Add the paste and cabbage to a large mixing bowl. Add garlic cloves, radishes, and ginger. Mix until everything is evenly distributed.
Seal the kimchi in a mason jar and place it in direct sunlight for 24 hours. Open the jar briefly to let out the gases, and then close jar again.
Place the kimchi in the refrigerator for one month.