Kimchi has to be one of the most well-known Korean foods, but did you know that there used to be around 200 different kinds? Today around 30 variations remain. Surprisingly, although the fermented kimchi seems like it must contain vinegar, that’s actually not the case at all; the recipe calls for salted shrimp and Korean fish sauce (not to be confused with Thai fish sauce) to give it a real flavour kick. Mixed with the sweetness of freshly squeezed pear juice, garlic and chilli, kimchi can be eaten shortly after preparation or left to ferment for a few weeks for added depth of flavour.
Special thanks to F&C Korean Food & Culture Academy in Seoul, South Korea for teaching us this recipe during a fun and informative cooking class.
- 1/4 Korean napa cabbage
- 3 heaped tbsp rock salt
- 1 tbsp red chilli powder
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tbsp salted shrimp
- 1 tbsp Korean fish sauce
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp pear juice or substitute for apple
- 1 tbsp Korean seaweed and fish stock - see notes
- 1 bunch chopped green onions
- Add 3 heaped tbsp of rock salt into 2 litres of water and allow to dissolve.
- Rinse the cabbage thoroughly, being careful to keep the leaves attached to the stem.
- Sprinkle generous amounts of rock salt between the leaves of the cabbage, placing more towards the stem and less towards the leaves.
- Soak the salted cabbage in the salt water for 4 to 6 hours, flipping the cabbage over every 2 hours. Place a heavy bowl or other item on top of the cabbage to ensure it's completely submerged. Humidity will play a role here, so the higher the humidity in your environment the less time you'll need to soak and vice versa. In Australia, it's recommended to soak around 6 hours.
- After soaking, rinse the cabbage to remove the salt. The cabbage should now have a flexible texture.
- NOTE: Gloves are a great idea for the next few steps!
- Mix the seasoning ingredients in a bowl. Working from the outside of the cabbage in towards the centre, place generous amounts of seasoning mix towards the base of the leaf and spread out towards the tip. Use all of the seasoning mix and ensure all of the cabbage is covered.
- Pick up the cabbage and grab hold of all of the leaves except the two outermost leaves. Fold the inner leaves in half towards the centre, then wrap the outer leaves around the bunch to 'seal'.
- Place in a bag or container and store in the fridge.
It's best to use Korean fish sauce as it has a very different flavour from other kinds such as Thai fish sauce. You can still use the Thai version, however the flavour won't be the same.
Freshly pressed pear juice is best, however you can substitute with apple juice if required.
Korean fish and seaweed stock is made with soaked kelp and dried pollack, but you can substitute if required with powdered seaweed stock. Adapted from F&C Korean Food & Culture Academy