Kimchi is a Korean staple that is always present at every meal. Kimchi to Korean's is like milk in cereal, coffee in the mornings or ketchup with fries. Depending on each families preference, there are many techniques and variations in ingredients used when preparing Kimchi. This is true for other Korean dishes as well. Just as everyone has a preference for what the think is good, I believe food such as Kimchi is a personal preference just like fashion and photography.
I chose to make Baek Kimchi which means white Kimchi, White, because the red chili pepper is not used. Baek Kimchi originates from the northern part of Korean, where less red chili pepper and salt is used and where there is more water content in the kimchi.
Kimchi is not only made with Napa cabbage but also with daikon's, red or white cabbage, cucumbers, scallions and even Chines bok choy. Any vegetable you think would pari nicely with the flavor of Kimchi is a definite must try. There are also variations of Kimchi that requires no fermentation.
Most of you are aware of the spicy red chili pepper kimchi. However, Baek is perfect for folks who can't handle spicy foods and is milder in flavor. It also takes a bit more time and effort to make Baek Kimchi but you won't be disappointed.
Baek Kimchi (백김치)
1 Medium Napa Cabbage, Cut into quarters if smaller in half
1/2 Korean Radish/Daikon, Peeled and cut into thin strips
3/4 Large Korean Pear, Peeled and cut into strips (optional)
1/2 Onion, Pureed
8 Large Garlic Cloves, Sliced 4 thin and mince the remaining 4
1 Chestnut Size Ginger, Halved and sliced thin
2-3 Red Chillies, Deseeded and sliced into thin strips
2-3 Green Chillies, Deseeded and sliced into thin strips
2-3 Dried Korean Dates/Jujubes, Deseeded and sliced into thin strips (optional)
2 Scallions, Sliced into 1-1/2 inch strips
2 tsp Sugare
3/4 Cup Sea Salt
About 8 cups Salted Water with 1/2 cup salt dissolved
Pine Nuts, Optional
1. Half or quarter your napa cabbage. Start by cutting at the base of the cabbage and stop when you reach the leafy part, then pull apart the cabbage in half. (I absentmindedly cut the cabbage through with my knife, oops)
2. Rinse the cabbage under cold water making sure to rinse under each leaf of the cabbage, gently shale the access water off.
3. Sprinkle about 3/4 cups of salt evenly over the cabbage making sure to sprinkle in between each leaf. Leave cabbage cut side up and pour salted water just covering the cabbage.
4. Allow to sit at room temperature for 5-8 hours or until the cabbage softens. (make the filling and broth as this time).
5. After sitting at room temperature, wash the cabbage making sure to rinse well. Yo're ready to add the filling.
1. Peel and cut the Korean radish/daikon, into thin strips.
2. Deseed the dried dates/jujube's and slice into thin strips.
3. Deseed the red chillies and cut into thin strips.
4. Deseed the green chillies and cut into think strips.
5. Combine all the above ingredients in a large bowl, add the 4 minced garlic, sugar, and a dash of salt and mix well.
6. Place the stuffing mixture in between the leaves starting with the bottom leaf and work your way up. Repeat until you have used up all the filling.
1. Puree half of an onion.
2. Peel and slice your Korean pear into thin strips same as your Korean radish/daikon.
3. Cut your scallion into 1-1/2 inch strips.
4. Peel, cut in half and slice the ginger into thin pieces. Take four garlic cloves and slice thin.
5. Mince your Korean fermented shrimp.
6. Combine the above ingredients in a large bowl and add about 8 cups of water, mix well. Pour the broth over the cabbage, completely covering the cabbage with the broth. Store in an airtight glass container and allow to ferment a couple of days or more then refrigerate. Cut and sprinkle with pine nuts and serve.
The fermented quality of this Kimchi is refreshing and Korean's often use the broth as a base for a cold noodle soup or the simply enjoy it as a side dish with their meals. It's also fantastic with Korean BBQ meats.
My first attempt at Kimchi. It turned out quite nice. Crispy, sour cabbagey goodness loaded with a ton of fiber. I hope you'll make make your own Kimchi. If not, you'll find a variety of Kimchi at your local Korean grocers. Enjoy!