Kimchi (or kimchee) is a traditional Korean pickled vegetable which is becoming increasingly popular as our western modern cuisine continues its love affair with all things fermented. It’s delicious served with rice, added to noodle dishes and soups, or even made into kimchi pancakes.
It has a distinctive taste and smell and there are endless recipes to choose from. This one is vegan but I have also given options if you would like to try a fish flavoured version.
Remove any discoloured outer leaves from the cabbage. Cut lengthwise into quarters and then cut crosswise into strips about 3cms wide at stalk end and a little wider at the leafy end. Scrub daikon well and cut lengthwise into quarters and then finely slice. Place cabbage and daikon into a large bowl or bucket (very clean!) and mix and massage the sea salt through the vegetables until the liquid begins to be released. Then place a plate on top of the vegetables and something heavy on top of the plate. Leave for at least three hours (preferably six).
Meanwhile bring the water, mushrooms and wakame to a boil, lower heat and simmer until reduced by half. Allow to cool slightly and then mix in the seasonings.
After a few hours test the cabbage to see if it is sufficiently soft. If the white stalk of the napa cabbage bends easily without breaking then you can strain off the excess liquid in a large colander. Transfer the cabbage and daikon back into the bowl by the handful giving an extra squeeze as you go.
Now you are ready to mix in the seasoning mixture. Depending on how much chilli flakes or powder you have used it would be wise to use gloves to do this stage. Pack into sterilised clean glass jars, pressing down firmly to remove any air pockets and to release the liquid. Make sure all the vegetables are under the liquid. Let sit in a cool place for 2-5 days depending on how fermented you want it to become, then transfer to the refrigerator.
In my opinion you can pretty much eat kimchi straight away but obviously the flavours deepen as the kimchi ripens. Old kimchi is often cooked and used in a variety of dishes. Have fun and experiment!
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