My craving for some fresh Kimchi was so strong, I decided it was high time I learn to make it myself.
First, I dove into researching traditional Korean Kimchi by watching youtube videos and reading blogs.
After reading Maangchi’s post on Mak Kimchi and watching her video, I carefully studied the photos Maangchi posted of certain ingredients just in case they were not labeled with English and in case the owner did not speak English.
Then I made a list and my husband and I headed out. Left off my list was the salted squid. I just can’t do it! Mine is pure veg.
Hubs and I had a great time in the Korean Market. For starters, the shop was about as big as my living room, but surprisingly well stocked.
Secondly, the owner was shocked that I, a tall blonde American girl, was so eager to make Kimchi!
“What? You really going to make Kimchi, you really eat it?”
“What? You sure you can do it? You no made it before?” Yep. I can do it. “Waaaaaaaaaaa?”
She was soon joined by another sweet Korean lady who was shopping. They both escorted me all over the shop giving me loads of Kimchi making advice and soon the owner just took my basket and filled it up.
When I asked for sweet rice flour, she led me to that section where the shopper quickly exclaimed “Waaaaaa? No no, that too complicated for you, you no need it, put it back.” She snatched it from my hand and put it back. Ok, one less step, fine by me.
The shop owner happened to be making a GIANT VAT of kimchi. As I watched, she julienned an enormous carrot in seconds with a sturdy mandolin slicer. WOWWWWW…. I wondered if this is a magical skill only small Asian women can conquer.
I admitted that I’d bought two really cheap mandolins in the past and had given up and trashed them both.
She proceeded to sell me a very expensive mandolin. “You get this one, last you lifetime! You get this other cheap one, it break, no good, get nice one! Same one I use!”
The shopper asked me why? “Why you make kimchi, you really eat it?” I told her I wanted it for my health, beauty, and for its healing powers.
Her eyebrows raised as far as they could possibly go as she said “yes, we Koreans eat Kimchi, why we so skinny! Americans so big!”
My husband and I laughed as I responded she was right, the American diet really is terrible. She nodded in amazement and said “Korean food good, best food!”
At last, we gave our cheerful farewells and left with some ginormous heads of Napa cabbage and a bag of other goodies.
Today, I dove right in to making what I thought would be one total gallon of Kimchi. The store owner though I was nuts “waaaaa? You really want so much?” Why yes I do. Half a gallon for me, half for my parents. I’ll eat it every day.
I cut up all but half a Napa cabbage because I ran out of room in my two big bowls. I poured in about half a cup of pickling salt, rubbed it around the cabbage, and filled the bowls with water. Then I stirred and massaged the cabbage more to distribute the salty water. That sat on the counter for over and hour with periodic massaging.
While the cabbage was soaking I got busy slicing carrots, the giant Korean radishes, leeks, green onions, and an apple. Those hung out in a bowl together while I made the Kimchi paste my processing about a cup of garlic cloves, one large onion, and a couple inches of peeled ginger root.
I combined that white paste with two cups of Red Pepper Powder, which is really more like fine pepper flakes and so aromatic and bright. I also added less than 1/2 high quality fish sauce at this point.
Finally, I rinsed the cabbage leaves three times to wash off the salt. I actually washed so much off that after tasting the final product, decided to add in about 1.5 T of Sea Salt. Hopefully it turns out just right after fermenting for a time.
The paste was gently massaged into the cabbage. Lastly, I added my big bowl of perfectly jullienned veggies!! It was a symphony of color.
The final step was filling jars. I pressed the kimchi down into each jar until they were tightly packed and the juices rose above the veggies. Then I carefully wiped the rims and capped each jar. They will sit for about 24 hours to ferment before going in the fridge. But first I’m going to eat a bowl for lunch.
As a bonus, we ended up with a huge pile for our garden’s compost heap and a smaller bowl full of goodies for our chickens.
My children were perfect angels, letting my husband take over their schooling for the day while I was busy making the Kimchi.
Ahhhh, all in a day’s work!