Kim Chi, Mon Amour

I’m on a big kim chi kick at the moment due to its power to improve atopic dermatitis. Even if it doesn’t, it’s delicious and full of good probiotics. I’m also slightly obsessed with Growing Up in a Korean Kitchen. So much awesomeness in that book.

I’ve made a few batches of kim chi before, but hadn’t yet found a recipe I really liked, until, today! This recipe started because I didn’t have any gochugaru and I didn’t want to ask The Man to make yet another special trip to a special store for his invalid wife. So, when I read that you could substitute with Aleppo pepper, which I did have, I got excited. Plus, kim chi is one of those things where everyone has their own recipe and it can be made a million different ways.

I plan to keep experimenting, but here is the first recipe I’ve made that I’ve really liked:

Kim Chi

1 medium Napa cabbage

3 scallions

2 carrots

1 medium daikon radish

1 medium onion

2 thumbs of ginger, peeled

5 dried Arbol chilies (woody stem tops removed, but leave in the seeds)

1 T Aleppo pepper (you can get this at Penzey’s here)

1 T fish sauce (optional, make sure it’s preservative-free)

5 garlic cloves

4 T sea salt

4 c water


Day 1

  1. Chop the cabbage, scallions, radish, and onion in roughly 1″ pieces.
  2. Chop the carrots in 1/2″ pieces.
  3. Put into your crock.
  4. Mix the water with the salt and pour over the vegetables in the crock. Set a plate on top of the mixture and then weight it down with a jar filled with water (that’s what I use, but you can use whatever clean weights make sense to you).
  5. Cover the crock with cheesecloth to let the mix breathe and to keep out bugs. I have found a quilting hoop to be more convenient than cheesecloth, see picture below.
  6. Leave overnight.

Day 2

  1. Put the ginger, chilies, pepper, fish sauce, and garlic in a food processor and blitz until you have a paste-like consistency.
  2. Mix the spice paste into the vegetables-brine mixture.
  3. Set the plate on top of the mixture and then weight it down with the jar filled with water.
  4. Cover the crock with a quilting hoop or cheesecloth.
  5. Set aside in your kitchen and mix and check every other day or so to see where things are in terms of desired taste and crunchiness level. My kitchen is typically 70F and this batch took one week to finish.

Some notes:

  • The size of a medium daikon radish to me is like this:
Medium-sized daikon radish.

Medium-sized daikon radish.

  • The size of a thumb of ginger is the size of your thumb.
  • Arbol chillies look like this.
  • The crock looks like the pic below. You can buy them here. They’re made in the U.S. I have two so that I can ferment two batches at a time. You could also use any other glass or ceramic vessel. Note also my clever DIY approach to a breathable top: a quilting/embroidery hoop found at a thrift store. The jar filled with water sitting on top of a plate to weight down the veggies is beneath the fabric. You can see the jar top poking up in the pic.
    So pretty.

    So pretty.

    And voila, here is the finished kim chi, ready to go in the fridge:



I highly recommend Sandor Katz’s Wild Fermentation if you want to get started with making sauerkraut, kim chi, and other fermented vegetables, dairy, and grains. It’s a charming read with plenty of easy-to-follow recipes. Pretty soon you’ll have two crocks and be making up your own kim chi recipes like me.

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Filed under fermenting, kim chi

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