An Easy Step-by-Step Guide to Making Kimchi That's So Easy, Anyone Could Do It
For many of you, the idea of making homemade kimchi from scratch may seem daunting. Put any fears aside, though, because this easy step-by-step guide will walk you through it with simplicity and ease.
What Is Kimchi?
If kimchi is unfamiliar to you, think of it like a Korean version of sauerkraut. It's fermented napa cabbage with other vegetables like daikon radish and scallion, that's seasoned with ginger, garlic and chile flakes. Like sauerkraut, it's full of good bacteria, living probiotics, which means eating kimchi may be good for your gut. But besides kimchi's amazing health benefits, kimchi just plain tastes good!
How to Make Kimchi
The fermentation process takes about 4 days to make, which sounds like a long time, but with only 20 to 30 minutes of actual hands-on time–Mother Nature does most of the work! One thing to keep in mind is that this contains fish sauce so this is not vegan kimchi–fermented kimchi without the fish sauce takes a bit longer to make.
Get the full recipe for Homemade Kimchi and follow the steps below to see exactly how to make it.
To get started you'll need:
- Napa cabbage
- daikon radish
- green onions
- Korean-style red pepper flakes (gochugaru)
- fish sauce
Step 1: Prep the Cabbage
Rinse the cabbage thoroughly and then chop it into 1-inch pieces (or, if you prefer smaller pieces, try shredding or cutting the cabbage smaller) and place it in a large bowl. Combine the cabbage and salt in a large bowl and mix. Add enough water to cover the cabbage.
Step 2: Ferment the Cabbage
Keep the cabbage submerged in the salt water (use a heavy plate or a sealable bag filled with water to keep the cabbage from floating to the top) at room temperature overnight and for up to 24 hours. After 12-24 hours, drain the cabbage, reserving the salty brine.
Step 3: Add More Vegetables
Time to add more veg! Peel the daikon radish and cut it into 2-inch matchsticks. Cut the green onions into 1-inch pieces. Add these to the drained cabbage.
Step 4: Make the Flavorful Chile Paste
Place the garlic, ginger, sugar, fish sauce and red pepper flakes (gochugaru) in a food processor and pulse until the mixture is well combined and forms a chunky paste.
Step 5: Mix It All Together
Add the chile paste to the bowl and massage with gloved hands (the chiles will leave hot oil on your hands that can sting, so wearing gloves is important!) until well combined.
Step 5: Let It Ferment a Second Time
Pack the kimchi into a 2-quart mason jar, pressing it down lightly. Using the reserved brine, fill the jar until the cabbage is completely covered with liquid (you could add a cabbage leaf over the kimchi to weigh it down, if needed). Screw on the lid and place the jar on a tray (to catch any brine) in a cool place like the basement. And then ... let it be for 3 days! After 3 days, give it a taste. Refrigerate it like it is, or allow it to continue to ferment for a few more days if you like. It is done when it tastes good to you!
How to Store Kimchi
Store kimchi in a covered jar in the fridge, making sure the veggies are always covered in the brine. As long as the liquid is covering the kimchi, it will stay good to eat for up to 3 weeks. Plus, it will taste better and better as it sits in the fridge!
How to Use Kimchi
Kimchi is a powerhouse of flavor and its uses are endless! Serve it on its own as a flavorful side dish, or add kimchi to:
- kimchi fried rice
- Korean-style tacos
- grilled cheese sandwiches
- grain bowls
- scrambled eggs
- soups and stews
- tofu scrambles
Where to Find Kimchi
If making is kimchi is not an option, many delicious prepared kimchis are available. Look for kimchi in the refrigerated section of most grocery stores, often near the tofu, and at most Asian markets.