Of Cabbages and Kimchi: A Practical Guide to the World of Fermented Food
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Spread the paste and chopped spring onions onto all the leaves, making sure to cover them all the way down to the core. The Korean name for green cabbage, yangbaechu, actually means Western cabbage. Green cabbages are healthy, naturally sweet and crunchy, which makes it a good vegetable for kimchi. You can use any variety of cabbage to make Kimchi. You can shorten the salting process if not using Chinese cabbage as regular cabbage is less dense, requiring a shorter brine. Feel free to use leafy greens like Swiss chard or Bok choy in your kimchi.
What’s the fish sauce for? Kimchi often has a seafood component like fish sauce, oysters, squid, or salted shrimp paste. It’s added for umami, a rich, savory flavor. We keep Red Boat fish sauce in our kitchen, so that’s what we use, but if you have access to a Korean market, you can buy Korean fish sauce. Let the cabbage sit in saltwater for 1 hour. Tossing 2-3 times to make sure the saltwater reaches the cabbages evenly. Combine the salt with the chopped veg, mix thoroughly and leave covered overnight. The veg will shrink and wilt substantially as water is drawn out of it.For a deliciously savory flavor, I used salted shrimp (saeujeot, 새우젓) in this recipe. Use fish sauce instead if preferred. For vegan kimchi, Korean soup soy sauce ( guk ganjang, 국간장) is a good substitute. Many years ago while visiting my son who was in Berlin, Germany, at the time, I made this kimchi without any of these ingredients, and it was still very good! Kimchi is a perfect companion to rice. You can stir some finely chopped Kimchi into steamed rice or add right at the end of making fried rice.
We still have much to learn about making different kimchi varieties, and we love to taste and explore other options. Our kimchi recipe below is a great entry point. It can also be adjusted to your preferred spice level, depending on how much gochugaru (red chili powder) you use. We’ve worked on this recipe with Chef Richard Hattaway. Try it soon. You are going to love it! Rinse the salt from between each of the leaves, then squeeze them to drain as much of the water as possible.The most common type of kimchi is baechu kimchi which is made with Napa cabbage. In Korea, Napa cabbage is known as baechuhence the name baechu kimchi. This cabbage is also known as Chinese cabbage around the world. Vegetarian or Vegan kimchi: Leave out the fish sauce and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of white or red miso paste to the chili powder mixture before massaging it into the cabbage. Kimchi can be made with different cabbages or other vegetables. It is the popular baechu kimchi that must use Napa cabbage which gives it its distinctive taste and texture.