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Kimchi is a fermentation style that originated in Korea. It is often served with every meal. When many Westerners think of Kimchi, they automatically think of Napa Cabbage Kimchi.

While Napa Cabbage Kimchi is made in the Fall, Kimchi can be made with many different vegetables year-round. Making Kimchi has always been a family activity and was traditionally stored many months in large earthenware vessels in the ground, called Onggi.

Napa cabbages can be brined whole and stuffed with seasoning paste or chopped into square pieces and seasoned. I make square cut Kimchi because it is faster to prepare and ferment as well as easier to snack on and use in recipes. To do so, cut the Napa in half and then in quarters. Core the Napa and chop the quarters into eights. Then chop the cabbage into 2 inch squares.

Lately I’ve been on a huge kimchi kick and I’m fairly certain that it is because I am hooked on fish sauce. Anchovy sauce is traditional, but fish sauce works well too! I found fish sauce in the Asian Foods section of my local grocery store, but it can be found online as well. Fish sauce is really tasty when cooked in coconut curries, burgers, pork, and chicken as well, so put it to good use if you invest.

Another essential ingredient in spicy Kimchi recipes is Korean Chili Pepper Flakes, or Gochugaru. It is important to select high quality Korean Chili Pepper flakes or powder. We are lucky to have many Asian grocery stores in town that carry Gochugaru, but it can also be ordered online. In the future I will develop a Vegan, non-spicy Kimchi, but that’s another post for another day….

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Kimchi is very flexible. Every family has their own unique recipe and methods. Don’t like something in the recipe? Leave it out! Have something extra lying around that needs to be used that you feel will compliment the flavors? Throw it in there! As always, experiment and find out what works best for you. If it’s not to your liking raw, use the Kimchi in cooking or recipes.

Here is a general process and recipe:

Square-Cut Kimchi

Seasoning Paste Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup gochugaru, or Korean Chili Pepper Flakes
  • 2 teaspoons sugar, I prefer sugars with molasses
  • 4 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons grated or minced garlic
  • 2 or 3 tablespoons anchovy or fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons minced or julienne carrot (optional)
  • 1/2 cup thinly frenched onion (optional)

Other Optional Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup green onions without white portions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup diakon radish (I’ve never had great success with daikon, yet…)
  • 2 tablespoons salted shrimp or squid
  • Asian pears or pear juice is added in some recipes

Some people make a “sweet rice flour porridge” that they say helps the seasoning paste stick to the Napa better. I have never used it and have not thought that it needed it any help.

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