As a kid, I used to be mortified when my non-Korean friends would come over to my house and open the refrigerator. It would stink for a lack of a better word. It was the kimchi that would make my house smell. Now, I’m so proud to have kimchi, the Korean national side dish, as a staple in my refrigerator. Kimchi has become as mainstream as sushi. I see kimchi now on menus at various restaurants in the city. I’ve never really bought kimchi at the supermarket because my mom’s kimchi is hands down the best I’ve ever tasted. She says it’s because she’s been making kimchi her whole life so she has the recipe down. I’ve asked my mom to teach me how to make kimchi for many years and she finally did. My sister also came along for the lesson because any respectable Korean woman should learn how to make it. It was a long afternoon to say the least with my mom giving me no exact measurements for anything. Her reason for the need to use salted shrimp in kimchi because otherwise, it’s just wrong were also very helpful. It was such a wonderful experience learning how to make kimchi from my mom and feeling a little more in touch with my Korean heritage. Let’s be honest, only a true Asian can master the kimchi squat!
You will need:
- 2 heads of napa cabbage
- 1 Korean radish
- 1 bulb garlic
- 1 yellow onion
- 1 (2 inch) piece of ginger root
- 1/4 cup of fish sauce
- 1/4 cup Korean salted shrimp
- 1/2 cup Korean red chili powder (gochukaru)
- 1 bunch green onions
- 1/2 apple
- 1/4 cup sesame oil
- 1 cup coarse sea or kosher salt
4. Place the cabbage in a deep bowl or pot and cover with water. Soak the cabbage in the water for at least 8 hours. The purpose of this stage is so the cabbage leaves will wilt and become malleable. It’s also to pickle the cabbage.
7. Take the cabbage that has been soaking in water and salt and wash the salt off. Squeeze the water out of the cabbage. Starting with the bottom leaves, add some of the radish mixture going layer by layer. Fold the cabbage pulling the bottom leaf towards the top. Carefully place the cabbage in the kimchi jar.
8. Make sure the leaves face up. As you keep piling the kimchi into the jar, press down with your fist. Make sure you leave some space at the top of the jar because the kimchi will rise up and expand.