Kimchi Version 2.0

Kimchi Version

I have been hooked on kimchi ever since I discovered it. When I came across a recipe to make it at home a few years ago I leapt at the chance. After looking at a lot of recipes that I found on the web I decided to make a simple kimchi for my first version that contained pretty much only the required ingredients. That first batch of kimchi turned out so well that since then I have made it dozens of times and my fridge has never been without at least one batch in it the whole while. I was so pleased with that recipe that I quickly forgot that I had fully intended to revisit it and try a more advanced one later on. I recently recalled that fact and set about coming up with a new version.

Although the first version was really good and had all of the required flavours and textures including the crunchy cabbage, the garlic overtones, the spiciness and the the sourness that develops with fermentation over time, it lacked the subtle complexities of most restaurant style kimchi. Right off the bat I recalled that I purposely skipped adding the radish and the sugar to the original version and when added they bring a nice bite and a hint of sweetness to kimchi so they had to go in this time. Instead of just adding sugar like many recipes call for I used the trick of replacing sugar with a grated Asian pear or apple that I learned while making bulgogi a while ago. In addition to adding some natural sweetness the pear or apple brings a hint of flavour adding another layer of complexity. I also decided to add some grated onion for a bit of pungency and a shredded carrot for a bit of colour and another touch of sweetness.

The next major difference in this recipe is the use of a rice flour based porridge. I came across the idea of using the porridge in a recipe for kimchi that I found on Maangchi while searching for recipe ideas. The rice flour porridge help moisten the gochugaru, Korean chili pepper flakes, and mix in and meld all of the other flavours before you mix it into the cabbage. The porridge also helps to get the flavours into all of the nooks and crannies of the cabbage so that every bite is full of flavour.

Kimchi version 2.0 turned out so amazingly well with richer and deeper flavours and more subtle complexities! This new version definitely rivals any kimchi that I have ever had at a restaurant. I can't wait to start using it as an ingredient in new dishes!



Servings: 1
  • 1 large (5 pound) napa cabbage (or two medium sized)
  • 1/2 cup coarse salt
  • 1/4 cup sweet rice flour (mochi)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup fish sauce (or soy sauce for a vegetarian version)
  • 2 cups gochugaru (Korean red chili flakes)
  • 1/2 cup garlic (chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon ginger (grated)
  • 1 small onion (grated)
  • 1/2 Asian pear (grated)
  • 1/2 Fuji apple (grated)
  • 1 cup daikon radish (shredded)
  • 1/4 cup carrot (shredded)
  • 1 bunch green onions (sliced)
  1. Cut the napa cabbage in half, remove the core and slice the cabbage into 1 inch wide strips.
  2. Soak the cabbage in cold water for 10 minutes.
  3. Place a layer of cabbage into a large bowl and sprinkle some salt onto the cabbage. Repeat until all of the cabbage is in the bowl and salted. (Use two bowls if needed.)
  4. Let the cabbage sit for 1 1/2 hours mixing it up every 1/2 hour.
  5. Rinse the cabbage three times, drain and set aside.
  6. Mix the flour and water in a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer while stirring.
  7. Remove from heat and let it cool.
  8. Mix flour mixture and the remaining ingredients, save the cabbage.
  9. Mix the porridge into the cabbage well using your hands to make sure that it covers all of the cabbage.
  10. Place the cabbage mixture into sealable containers leaving about an inch of space at the top.
  11. Seal the container and let ferment at room temperature for 2-3 days.
  12. Place the container in the fridge and let ferment for a couple more days.


Gloria said...

Kevin this look really nice and yummy, nice colour too !! gloria

joyce said...

I definitely have to try making kimchi at home one day, your's looks lovely. Thanks for posting!!

H said...

Try whey in it. Check out Nourishing Traditions if you haven't yet. This book covers a lot of lacto fermentation and soaking of grains.

I made my best batch yet using this recipe

and adding a few tablespoons of whey.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Splendid! That kimchi looks so good.



Joanne said...

It's so cool how you reworked this! I love that you used fruit instead of sugar.

Chef E said...

It is inspiring and time for a batch in my kitchen! Beautiful photo of its colors, so vibrant!

Catherine said...

Kimchi is one of my favorites and my family's favorites. I might make this over the weekend, if we have a family function!

Adventures in Domestic Cooking said...

Fantastic!! This Kimchi looks super good.

Caroline said...

LOL - My mother would ask you if you're sure that you aren't really Korean. This Kimchi looks so gorgeous that I'm going to race to the kitchen right now and eat some with some Korean toasted seaweed - nummy!

Nina Timm said...

That's it, I am convinced to make this now. Love the color!!!

MaryBeth said...

I will have to make this for my husband....he will be so excited

Cucinista said...

Kimchi is so tasty. I have been known to eat so much that it almost makes me ill. I think all kimchi has a secret, additional ingredient -- maybe crack.

WizzyTheStick said...

I have looked far and wide for a recipe for this. Wow it looks amazing. Bookmarked

grace said...

i am so impressed that a non-korean is so into kimchi! The smell gets to a lot of people. haha! It's my favorite ever and i can't go a meal without it (if im having korean food).

i applaud you!!

Anonymous said...

I can't tell you how excited I was to see this post! Kimchi truly is a Korean culinary treasure and I can't wait to try this recipe!

caroline said...

I gave this a try last week and it was delicious. Was talking to my father about it who was genuinely surprised that you chose to use fruit because when he was a child his aunts used to make kimchee this way.

My husband who isn't Korean also enjoyed it, we haven't even had this batch for a week and half of it is already gone!

Central FL Vegetarian - A Rare Bird, Indeed! said...

Kevin: a delicious recipe, thanks, but have had to use crushed red as I cannot find gochugaru ANYWHERE! Where do you find yours?
Thanks for all of the great recipes - you're my fave recipe source!

Yuri said...

My family comes from the Jeolla region, the home of the spiciest kimchi. My grandmother is also best friends with the woman who founded soon-chang gochujang, the premier brand of pepper paste in Korea. We know our kimchi, we're kimchi snobs to the core, and it's serious business to us. In fact my friends get so excited when my mom visits me once a year because they know I'm going to end up with batches and batches and batches of kimchi that will last me 6 months. I have to give you credit - my sister got annoyed with your blog (but don't worry, she's a fan) because you overuse kimchi in all your recipes that involve it. To korean people there is a certain level of sacredness and we're pretty classic in our use of Kimchi. However I must commend you for this recipe of Kimchi 2.0. It is by far the MOST AUTHENTIC KIMCHI RECIPE I've seen on the net. Everything from the mochiko porridge to the shredded vegetables... the only way I could tell you to improve it is to use heavy, coarse, wet sea salt when you're wilting the cabbage in the beginning. My mom bleaches out the kitchen sink, and makes a batch of about a dozen nappa cabbage, heavily salts them with super wet, coarse, fresh sea salt, then squeezes the muthaeffing water out of it very intensively after 12 hours! Thank you for posting this.

Tim (Singapore) said...

Long time kimchi-eater, first time kimchi-maker using Kevin's recipe. I used all the ingredients he prescribed with the only exception that I included a package of Noh's Kimchi Seasoning because I just happened to have it on hand. My kimchi doesn't have the usual brilliant red color but it's full of flavor and it tastes even better than the kimchi I bought at a supermarket near Incheon Airport. Its flavors became fully developed after about 48 hours sitting outside in a relatively cool A/C environment. And I saved so much money making my own kimchi. I made about 2 kg of kimchi at the cost of less than $6. Where I'm living in Singapore, kimchi is sold for $10/kg at the supermarket.

EdR said...

Leave out the rice flour "porridge" which I think has the effect to not allow good distribution of the flavoring ingredients. Substitute about 2 1/2 tsp Ajinomoto Hon Dashi for the fish sauce. I find it has nice fish taste rather than a "fishy" one.
Also be certain to really pack it hard into the jars to push out as much air as possible which aids it in fermenting in a way that produces better results.

Love the blog!!

Kevin said...

EdR: The rice flour porridge helps moisten the gochugaru and distribute the flavours. The fish sauce is there because it is fermented and thus helps kick start the fermentation process in the kimchi. The is idea of using dashi for flavour is an interesting one though. You could replace the fish sauce with soy sauce to help with the fermentation and use the dashi to add the fish flavour that you desire.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing this recipe!! I just finished making it, following your recipe as much as possible. I only substituted Asian pear with d'anjou and Fuji apple with gala because the former is not in season and the latter is sitting on my counter. I found that the mixture can actually make 10-12 lbs of Napa cabbage rather than the 5 lbs you suggested. In fact, I had 5 lbs and needed to run to the market to get another 5 lbs. The flavor is fantastic and I can just imagine how amazing it's gonna be with several days of fermentation. Again, many thanks!! This recipe is a keeper!!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the recipe!!! I just finished making this. Already ate some right away and the flavor is fantastic!!! I just know it'll be amazing in several days when fermentation kicks in. I followed the recipe completely, but I had to go get another 5 lbs of Napa cabbage. The mixture can handle 10-12 lbs of Napa cabbage and still taste amazing!!! I love that I don't need to use dashing and sugar!!! I highly recommend using premium grade fish sauce; my favorite is the Three Crab Brand Viet Huong.

Kevin said...

Anonymous: I am glad that you are enjoying the kimchi! I like my kimchi a stronger but doubling the cabbage will definitely keep you in stock longer! :)

EdR said...

Hey Kevin: I don't care for the texture that the sweet rice flour (mochi) produces in the finished Kim Chee.

I make my "porridge" (this is for 6lb of cabbage) in the food processor by liquefying:

½ cup garlic cloves
½ cup yellow onion
1 ripe pear
1 ½ tablespoon minced ginger
¾ cup Fine red chili flakes (gochugaru) mixed with 1 cup warm water
2 ½ teaspoons Hon Dashi
Add up to 2 cups water to get it all blending nicely with a similar to "porridge" consistency. Just mix this into your veg as you would the getting it well distributed on all surfaces.

I also add 3/4 tsp hand minced ginger to the veg for those nice little blasts of ginger flavor.

The kick starter for fermentation is up to 2 teaspoon dried Wakame seaweed. This gets it going every time. As I mentioned in an earlier reply, I prefer the flavor of Hon Dashi to fish sauce. This could simply be that I have not found a good tasting brand. I have even tried the tiny jarred shrimp and did not care for the taste either.

Another key is to jam pack it in the jar firm enough to push out as much air as possible. One might also be tempted to let it ferment a few more days at room temperature in hopes that it will become more tangy, but you rung the risk of it breaking down into a very unappetizing mushy textured result. Kim Chee must have that "crunch"

I have made batches keeping notes with each, and these are the tricks to make it taste the way I like.

Have you tried making any of the little aged varieties? I just returned from Hawaii and scrutinized the delicious fresh tasting style of Kim Chee #1 restaurant. They used regular cabbage which was rough cut into chunks, perfectly seasoned with a spectacular crunch! It is my next mission to try to duplicate.

Keep up the great work!

Kevin said...

EdR: This sounds like an interesting version, though normally I try to stay away from hon dashi. The hon dashi and the water could be replaced with a homemade dashi.

I have tried a bean sprout kimchi which uses very little aging and it is really nice. There was the pear kimchi which was also really good with the sweet and spicy combo.

Note: The rice flour in the 'porridge' normally almost completely dissolves and disappears in the final kimchi.

Anonymous said...

OK, I'm replying to my own post to update. Well, the flavor was delicious right away and I was looking forward to the next level of flavor post-fermentation to be even more spectacular. To my disappointment, it became bitter as the days past. After a month, I had to dump the remainder, about half. Would you know what might have happened to cause the bitterness? As I've said in the previous posts, I followed your recipe except for the pear and apple substutiond and I used more Napa cabbage. Please let me know what might be the problem causing the bitterness.

Anonymous said...

instead of mochi flour can i use regular brown rice flour thanks

Kevin said...

Anonymous: I have never tried it using regular brown rice flour but I imagine that it would work just fine.

Anonymous said...

After a week or so of fermenting in the frig, it's tasting bitter. Why and what could have gone wrong? It tasted perfect the first several days. Slightly on the too salty side.

Kevin said...

Anonymous: Kimchi is supposed to be sour. The more it ferments the more sour it will get. If you prefer your kimchi to be less sour you can put it into the fridge sooner, say after one day. Try tasting it after one day and see if the sourness is to your liking and place it in the fridge when it is. The kimchi will continue to ferment at a slower pace in the fridge and get more sour as time goes on. Once the kimchi gets really sour it is a perfect time to use it in a soup like Kimchi Jjigae!

Kimchi can also be good fresh! Try letting it sit on the counter for an hour after mixing and then eat it. At this point there should be no sourness.

Make sure that you rinse the sea salt off of the cabbage well to prevent saltiness.

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