Spicy fermented cabbage doesn’t seem like a good idea, and the first time I tried it, I wondered how it had possibly gotten so popular in Korea. But after prolonged exposure during the time we lived there, I came to love it. I may not miss my life in Korea very much, but I really do miss the availability of kimchi with every meal.
My first attempt at making my own was pretty much horrible. Not enough salt, the wrong kind of chili powder, and a pretty major miscalculation when scaling the recipe left me with a bland jar full of mushy cabbage. No thanks.
This time I pulled from a bunch of different places, recalled what our downstairs neighbors always did on Sunday nights, and bought some gochugaru, which is ESSENTIAL (order it online if you can’t find it in the store). This batch is much better, and now I can have a nice big jar of kimchi in the fridge at all times!
1 very large head Napa cabbage or 2 medium-sized heads
3/4 cup kosher salt
1 tbsp flour
1 cup water
3/4 cup gochugaru (Korean red pepper powder)
2 tsp fresh grated ginger
5 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp sugar
Cut the cabbage vertically in quarters. Place in a large bowl.
Put the salt between each of the leaves, weight with a heavy pot, and let sit for about 4 hours.
Rinse the cabbage several times.
In a medium bowl, mix the flour, water, gochugaru, ginger, garlic, and sugar so you have a paste. Spread a little of this between each of the leaves, then pack very tightly into a large, clean jar. Press down firmly, then add just enough water to cover (which shouldn’t be much if the cabbage is tightly packed), seal the jar, and leave on the counter to ferment for two to three days. (Less time if the room is warm, more time if the room is cool).
Transfer to the refrigerator and allow to age for at least a week. It should keep for about a month or two.