Making Kimchi

Of course kimchi is traditionally made with Chinese, or Napa, cabbage but Cafe Drake HRV found ourselves with a bowling ball-sized green cabbage courtesy of a Schoharie Valley farm stand and utilized this tender, ultra-fresh specimen. Start with 2 pounds of cabbage (Napa, green or savoy) - cut into 2-inch pieces and toss in a LARGE glass or ceramic bowl with 1/4 cup kosher or sea salt. Cover the cabbage with a plate and weigh down by topping plate with a jar of water or heavy can of beans (or as we did, a large rock from the yard). Set aside at room temperature for 2 hours. Rinse and drain the cabbage 2 or 3 times. Drain further in a colander for 30 minutes while you mix the spice paste in the same large bowl used for soaking cabbage. Here's the basic recipe for kimchi spice paste: 5 cloves minced garlic, 1-2 T. grated ginger, 1 t. sugar, 2 T. fish sauce (or fermented shrimp paste) and 2-4 T. ground cayenne pepper (depending on how spicy you like it). Stir all this together, toss in 3 chopped scallions and add the cabbage. Mix very well, rubbing the paste well into the veggies. Transfer all this to a 1/2 gallon jar.

You'll need to keep the fermenting veggies submerged beneath accumulating brine. The easiest way to do this is simply placing a gallon-size ziplock bag into the mouth of the jar and filling it with some water. Zip/seal the bag closed and set the jar aside in a cool(ish) location for 4-5 days. Sometimes the liquid flows over the side of the jar so it's best to use a saucer or plate to catch any overflow. When ready, drain off most of the brine, close jar tightly with a lid and place in fridge. The kimchi will be ready to eat in a week and should keep under refrigeration for at least 2 months.  NOTE: This is the most basic recipe and method of creating delicious kimchi in your home kitchen. Variations abound. For example, vegetarians can use kelp powder in place of fish sauce and season with more salt. Cubed daikon radish or small, tender turnips is are excellent additions. Korean red pepper paste adds authenticity and can be substituted for more commonplace cayenne pepper.


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