My dad loves kimchi. The Chinese restaurant we used to frequent in Coimbatore used to serve sliced cabbage (not Napa, the regular variety) tossed with chili powder with some garlic and ginger I think, and serve it as a condiment at the table. Every single time we went there, we’d end up asking for a refill at least once.
My kimchi chronicles started with zucchini, and that came out so well that I’ve made it a few times since, using the same recipe, experimenting with new additions, and oftentimes adapting it due to lack of availability of ingredients. It was only a matter of time until I decided to stay true to its roots and make the more ubiquitous version using Napa cabbage. I don’t know why it took me this long.
This kimchi is pretty much ‘instant’ and can be consumed right away (which you will no doubt do). Eaten fresh, it has this raw boldness to it. When I came back to it after a few days, it had developed this slight pungency (due to the radish) and had mellowed in flavour. Since it’s sat in the salty juices and piquant brine for so long, it will start to get super funky after a few weeks. I like it best after about a week.
- 500 grams Napa (Chinese) cabbage
- 2 tbsp Korean red chili flakes(gochugaru) (or) 1 ¼ tsp chili powder
- 1 radish, julienned (optional)
- 2 spring onions, chopped into 2” batons
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ tsp grated ginger
- ½ tsp sugar
- ½ tsp fish sauce (optional)
- 4 tbsp coarse salt
- Equipment : Sterilized glass jar
- Rinse the cabbage thoroughly under running water. Remove the core and chop into approx 2” X 2” pieces. Add it to a bowl along with spring onions and radish (if using), and toss with salt and 1 cup water. Press the cabbage down tightly with another plate/bowl and set it aside for 2 hours. After 2 hours, wash thoroughly several times and drain in a colander.
- In a bowl, mix together garlic, ginger, sugar, chili flakes, ½ cup water and fish sauce. Toss in the cabbage in batches until it’s evenly coated. Fill into the glass jar and leave it in a dry place for 3 - 4 days; press the kimchi down with a spoon everyday making sure it's all submerged in the brine. Taste after 4 days and if you think it's attained the right flavour, refrigerate.