Maybe you already add fermented foods to your meals for a healthy (gut) boost. But making your own batch of kimchi? It sounds way more complicated and time-consuming than mastering your own nut milks.
“People aren’t comfortable fermenting at home,” says Judy Joo, the executive chef at London’s Jinjuu, host of the Cooking Channel’s Korean Food Made Simple, and one of the four Iron Chefs on Iron Chef UK.
“It’s one of those things, like making beer or bread, that maybe isn’t that hard but there are a lot of steps you can screw up. You really have to pay attention to what you’re doing.”
If you can summon the concentration (maybe hide your iPhone?), Joo’s recipe, which she breaks down step-by-easy-step, is actually super doable, and the many health benefits and spicy, delicious flavor that await are worth it.
Unfortunately there are no shortcuts because fermentation is all about time, but follow the recipe religiously and you’ll have your very own homemade kimchi “in a fortnight,” she swears.
One important thing to keep in mind? “It smells, so make sure you have an airtight container like a mason jar when you’re ready to ferment,” Joo adds. Duly noted. —Jamie McKillop
Judy Joo’s Cabbage Kimchi
Makes 1 gallon
1 head Napa cabbage
3/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup sugar
3 quarts water
2 heads garlic, peeled and chopped
1 3-inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup fish sauce
1 1/2 cups Korean dried red chili flakes
1 1/2 tablespoon brined shrimp, undrained (can be found at Asian markets)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 bunch scallions, cut into 1-inch lengths
1 large carrot, cut into matchsticks
To prepare the kimchi, cut the cabbage lengthways into quarters. Put it into a very large bowl and sprinkle with salt and sugar. Pour in the water and weigh the cabbage down with a plate to keep it submerged. Refrigerate overnight.
To prepare the spice paste, combine garlic, ginger, fish sauce, chili flakes, shrimp, and sugar in food processor and blend until smooth, adding water as necessary to make a loose paste, about one minute. Stir in the scallions and carrots.
Remove the cabbage from the fridge and drain it well, squeezing out as much water as possible. Rinse it with cold running water once and drain it again. Rub spice paste over the cabbage and in between each leaf. Place it in a large glass jar with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate it for 24 hours. Then, while still covered, let sit at room temperature to ferment for at least 24 hours and up to two weeks. Then put it back in the refrigerator to enjoy. It will keep for one month.
For more information, visit www.judyjoo.com
(Photos: Judy Joo, Flickr/Adactio)