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Homemade Kimchi, Part 1 July 13, 2010

Posted by Angela @ Making Food for Friends in side dishes, vegan.
Tags: , ,

I spent the evening before my 30th birthday slicing up cabbage to make fermented, spicy cabbage–or kimchi.  Kimchi is a staple of Korean cuisine, and I have loved it since my days in East Quad dorm at the University of Michigan.  I’d go for Korean dinner every Sunday night following the East Quad Music Co-op weekly meeting with the rest of the music co-op crew, almost always ordering Duk Boki (spicy rice cakes in a red pepper sauce) or Spicy Tofu.  But no matter what I ordered, I always asked for an extra-large helping of kimchi on the side.

One of the summers I lived in Ann Arbor, I tried to make kimchi, but it was an absolute disaster.  My memory is foggy as to exactly what went wrong, but I seem to remember having to leave it out on the counter to ferment, a fruit fly situation, and something about burying it underground for the final fermentation??  I might be making that part up.  But, in any event, it did not work out and I haven’t tried it again since that time eight years ago.

One of my favorite food blogs, Closet Cooking, often posts Korean-influenced recipes.  His recipe for kimchi seemed extremely accessible, and I decided to give it another go.  The kimchi has to sit now for several weeks, but the difficult part is over, and all that is left is the waiting.  I modified the recipe from Closet Cooking slightly to make it vegetarian, and added carrots to the mix, because I’ve enjoyed kimchi with carrots in the past. One thing that makes me slightly nervous–I used gochujang (Korean red pepper paste) instead of gochugaru (Korean red pepper powder) because it is what I had on hand. I need to seek out some powder, but in the meantime, I’ll see how this goes. Check back in a few weeks to see how it all turned out….

Vegetarian Kimchi
(Modified only slightly from Closet Cooking)



1 small napa cabbage (sliced)
1/2 cup salt
1 bunch green onions (sliced into 1 inch pieces)
4 cloves garlic (chopped)
2 carrots (julienned)
1 inch ginger (grated)
1 cup gochugaru (Korean red chili flakes)
2 tablespoons soy sauce (or 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon Golden Mountain sauce)


Cut the napa cabbage in half, remove the core and slice the cabbage into 1 inch wide strips.  I used a mandolin for this.
Place a layer of cabbage into a large bowl and sprinkle some salt onto the cabbage. Repeat until all of the cabbage is in the bowl and salted.
Let the cabbage sit in the salt for a few hours. I left mine sitting in the salt for 3 hours or so.
Rinse the salt from the cabbage.
Mix the cabbage, green onions, garlic, ginger, gochugaru and soy sauce in the large bowl.
Place the cabbage mixture into a sealable container leaves a couple of inches at the top.
Seal the container and let ferment at room temperature for 2-3 days.
Place the container in the fridge and let ferment for a couple more days.



1. margot - July 13, 2010

i’ve been wanting to try either saurkraut or kimchi but was also intimidated by the prospect of getting the temperature right and the existence of special kimchi coolers–this sounds way easier. just one question: from your description, it sounds like it takes a long time (weeks), but the recipe days to let it ferment for 2-3 days…did you mean weeks there or is there a step somewhere above that I’m missing?

thanks for the recipe!

2. Angela @ Making Food for Friends - July 13, 2010

Hi Margot!

To be honest, I’m not sure. I got this recipe from the Closet Cooking blog, and Kevin (the blog writer) said he let his sit for weeks, not days, and that it got better over time. I’m going to just experiment with this batch, test it after a few days, and see how it progresses over the course of the next week or two. I’ll be sure to update the blog and let you know how it turned out!

3. elise - July 22, 2010

I made kimchi for the first time this summer and it turned out great. I used Sandor Katz’s recipe from his great book, “Wild Fermentation” and allowed it to ferment at room temperature for about a week. At that point, I refrigerated it to slow down the fermenting and we’ve been enjoying it ever since. (That was a few weeks ago.) Sandor is something of a fermentation expert and he claims that the main thing is to keep the vegetables submerged in the brine; if they float on top, they will mold. You can still eat what is underneath the moldy layer, but as mold is off-putting, he suggests that you weigh down the vegetables with a smaller container, or a baggy of brine, or whatever works for you. You can even push the vegetables down with a chopstick or something a couple of times a day and that seems to be enough.

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