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Making Your Own Kimchi

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Every week, a DIY expert spares us a trip to the grocery store and shows us how to make small batches of great foods at home.

Today, Lauryn Chun shares a recipe for a simple and dependable kimchi that you can make at home. Lauryn is the founder of Mother-in-Law's Kimchi and the author of The Kimchi Cookbook: 60 Traditional and Modern Ways to Make and Eat Kimchi.

Get the book (and your own kimchi kit) here in the Food52 Shop.

It continues to amaze me that a whole new American audience has so enthusiastically embraced kimchi since the launch of Mother-in-Law's Kimchi in 2009. In light of this recent craze, I was inspired to write The Kimchi Cookbook to showcase the seasonal aspect of kimchi. I wanted to show that kimchi can be more than just cabbage -- in fact, it can be made with just about any vegetable seasoned to one’s liking.

The book is divided into seasons for making spring/summer and fall/winter kimchi and dishes that use kimchi as an ingredient in cooking. I’ve included traditional Korean kimchi recipes and contemporary ones using ingredients such as cauliflower that show how easy and versatile kimchi making at home can be. With a few pantry ingredients, including the highest quality Korean chile pepper flakes (gochugaru) and fish sauce you can find, you will be well on your way to fantastic homemade kimchi.

In Korean, the word mak refers to the simple, everyday, casual, or common. And mak kimchi is just that -- a simple, basic way to make kimchi and enjoy it freshly fermented.

This recipe features a quick dry salt brine that calls for just enough salt to initiate fermentation and season the vegetables. A light rinse ensures that a balance of sweetness and salinity of the cabbage is achieved. Within three days of fermentation, you’ll have a homemade batch of crunchy, spicy and tangy kimchi whose flavors will develop in complexity as it continues to age. Use it as a condiment to add healthy probiotics and depth of flavor to a meal of grilled chicken, sausages, eggs, tofu and brown rice or add it to flavor the American classic grilled cheese sandwiches. An all-time favorite!


Mak Kimchi
Makes one jar

1 head (1.5 to 2 pounds) napa cabbage or green cabbage, cut into 2 by 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons minced garlic (about 2 large cloves)
1 teaspoons peeled, finely grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons fish sauce (omit if vegan, see note below)
1 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons Korean chile pepper flakes (gochugaru)
4 green onions, green parts only, cut into 2-inch pieces
1/4 cup yellow onion, thinly sliced (1 medium)

In a large bowl, combine the cabbage with the salt and set aside for about 50 minutes. Drain the liquid and very lightly rinse the cabbage just enough to remove any traces of salt. Drain the cabbage completely in a colander for 10 to 15 minutes.

Mix garlic, ginger, fish sauce, and sugar until a paste forms. Mix in the chile pepper flakes and let the paste combine for 15 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix together the green onions, yellow onions, the seasoning paste, and the cabbage until combined thoroughly making sure the seasoning paste is distributed evenly. Pack the mixture tightly into the glass container pressing down as you fill the container. Add 1/4 cup water to the mixing bowl, and swirl the water around to collect the remaining seasoning paste. Add the water to the container, cover tightly, and set aside for 3 days at room temperature. The cabbage will expand as it ferments, so be sure to place the jar on a plate or in a bowl to catch the overflow. Refrigerate and consume within 6 months to a year.

Tip: You can check the fermentation by opening the lid; you should see some bubbling juices and taste the tanginess of the freshly pickled cabbage. It will keep fermenting slowly in the jar for up to 6 months. The flavor will evolve and change with time — and a steady cold temperature will ensure an even, slow fermentation.

Save and print the recipe here.

Reprinted with permission from The Kimchi Cookbook: 60 Traditional and Modern Ways to Make and Eat Kimchi, by Lauryn Chun, copyright © 2012. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.

Photos: Sara Remington © 2012

Tags: DIY, small batch, kimchi, korean, cabbage, fermentation, how-to & diy

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