Purple Cabbage Kimchi

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I’m on this serious fermented foods kick. Here’s my recipe for quality kimchi that also effectively clears the room when you open a jar at work, in the movie theater, and at weddings. Use it to lose friends and help your overall digestion/probiotic situation.

Here’s what you do:

A single head of purple cabbage gets you six mason jars of kimchi, and purple cabbage will keep for a while, so use half for your first try and the second half will be great the next week or two when you wanna do another. Kimchi is so easy and if you do it once, you will understand it better each time.

You need:

  •           Head of purple cabbage
  •           Morton’s Sea Salt
  •           Fish sauce
  •           Water
  •           Sugar
  •           Red pepper flakes
  •           Gochujang sauce (a gooey, red, peppery substance. Check the Asian market)
  •           Ginger
  •           Garlic

(I’ve made this recipe with added shredded carrots, daikon radish, and chopped green onions too. Those are optional, and require no change to the process, just add it in. Don’t use red or white onions–it tastes weird.)

Slice up about half your head of cabbage, chopping into manageable, bite-sized pieces. Save the other half for next week—or chop all if you have 6 mason jars and complete trust in my recipe.

Place cabbage in large bowl and cover the top surface with sea salt (like a quarter to a half cup of salt?). Add water until it rises above the cabbage. Weight it with a plate and a heavy object for one hour in the fridge, keeping the cabbage pieces down under the brine. This is to draw the water out of the cabbage so it becomes soft and tender. If, after an hour it is not tender, add more salt and let sit another hour.

Meanwhile, grate ginger and garlic—I use one clove per jar and an equal amount of ginger—into a bowl. Add some forceful shakes of fish sauce, a tablespoon of sugar, and a few squeezes of gochujang—you want a saucy, pasty consistency. Balance the fish and pepper sauces until you have uniformity. Toss in a few shakes of red pepper flakes.

Drain and rinse the cabbage. Squeeze remaining water out of cabbage with your hands, and place handfuls into bowl of saucy mix. Thoroughly combine cabbage into mixture. Weiners use gloves for this but I like to smell like I got my hands dirty. Nobody will stand near me.

Mason jar prep:  Scrub your mason jars clean. Place each mason jar under a very hot or boiling stream of water and let run until overflow. (Although there has never been a case of botulism from kimchi, this will sterilize your jar if you had another product in there before.)

Divide your cabbage mixture into the jars. Press it down until the cabbage is compact, so about two inches remain between cabbage and mouth of jar. Divide remaining liquid between the jars. Cap your jars loosely and place under a food-safe cupboard (no cleaning products or roach poison in the area.) You want the brine to rise up as close to the top of your cabbage as possible. If you need more brine, top off with a small amount of salt water with a little fish sauce, but it will brine as it ferments.

Place a towel or paper plate underneath jars to catch any run-off. Store away from sunlight.

For the first 5-7 days, press the mixture further into the brine with a spoon. Bubbles will come up as a sign of fermenting. If it isn’t salty enough, whip up a small salt water combo and put a little in each jar. The flavor changes everyday, so don’t get too eager. Recap and put back in the cupboard. It’s so fucking easy you should have no trouble making this recipe again and again. And it’s good on anything that needs a spicy salty vinegary kick (everything) and it’s good by itself.

Kimchi will start to taste good around day 5. You can let it ferment for a few more days, or move it to the fridge. Whatever you choose, it will keep getting better, no thanks to you.

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