When I launched my Korean Food Project back in January I knew I would need to try my hand at kimchi at some point. Koreans make kimchi year-round, of course, but Korea seems to spotlight kimchi production in the fall and winter. Maybe it’s just because people have a food-preparation mentality during that time of year.
Anyway, for various reasons my first attempt at making kimchi is taking place now, in the spring. I’m starting with baechu kimchi, which uses napa cabbage and is the most common/classic type of kimchi. Later, I’ll try making kkakdugi, i.e., radish kimchi.
There are, unsurprisingly, many different ways to make baechu kimchi. I’m using the shortest, simplest recipe I could find, which is why I’m calling this dish “Easy Cabbage Kimchi.”
Baechu Kimchi (Easy Cabbage Kimchi) — 배추김치
- 2 medium heads of napa cabbage*
- ¼ c. salt
- 3 scallion stalks
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- 3 Tbsp. or more Korean red pepper powder**
*Napa cabbage is longer and narrower than regular cabbage. A head of napa cabbage has an oblong or cylindrical (not round) shape. (See photo above.)
**You can find plastic bags of Korean red pepper powder (called gochugaru in Korean) at Asian grocery stores or on Amazon.com for about $13 a pound. The consistency is between a coarse powder and a fine flake, so gochugaru is sometimes called red pepper powder or hot pepper powder and sometimes called red chili flakes. (See photo above.)
- Discard hard outer leaves of cabbage.
- Pull apart the leaves and cut into 1½-inch lengths.
- Wash cabbage pieces well.
- Put a layer of cabbage in a large container and sprinkle on some salt.
- Then put another layer of cabbage and salt.
- Repeat with the rest of the cabbage and salt.
- Press down the layers (of cabbage and salt) lightly by hand. Let stand 20 minutes.
- Add remaining ingredients. Mix well.
- Put cabbage, salt and seasonings mixture into a wide-mouthed jar and press down lightly by hand once more.
- Cover tightly.
- Let stand at room temperature for 2-3 days.
- Then, store in refrigerator until serving time.
[Recipe from “Korean Cooking”, an out-of-print cookbook by Seun Hi Yang.]