Kimchi For Kimchi Virgins: My Easy First-Timer Recipe!

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Kimchi, the fiery fermented cabbage that’s become a global phenomenon, is a cornerstone of Korean cuisine. Its vibrant red color, pungent aroma, and addictively spicy flavor profile have won over palates worldwide. But beyond the taste, kimchi boasts a rich history and a unique fermentation process that unlocks a treasure trove of health benefits.

This recipe takes inspiration from the wisdom of the Reddit kimchi community, offering a user-friendly guide to crafting your own batch of this delicious condiment. So, grab your napa cabbage, crank up the Korean tunes, and get ready to ferment some magic!

Homemade] fresh kimchi! : r/food
Homemade] fresh kimchi! : r/food


The Cabbage Base:

1 large napa cabbage (around 5-6 lbs)

  • 1 cup coarse sea salt

  • The Spice Mix (Gochugaru):

    ½ cup Korean gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes)

  • ¼ cup fish sauce
  • ¼ cup glutinous rice flour
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon Korean shrimp paste (saeujeot) – optional (adds extra depth of flavor)
  • ½ cup water

  • Additional Aromatics:

    1 cup chopped scallions

  • ¼ cup chopped Korean radish (daikon)
  • ¼ cup chopped carrots

  • Directions:

    1. Brining the Cabbage:

    1. Cut the napa cabbage into quarters or halves, depending on the size.
    2. In a large bowl or container, generously coat the cabbage with coarse sea salt, making sure all the leaves get a good rub.
    3. Cover the container and let it sit at room temperature for 6-8 hours, or until the cabbage wilts and releases its juices.

    Reddit Tip: Some Redditors recommend adding a weight on top of the cabbage to speed up the brining process.

    2. Preparing the Gochugaru Paste:

    1. While the cabbage brines, combine all the gochugaru paste ingredients in a separate bowl.
    2. Mix thoroughly until a thick, red paste forms.
    3. Taste the paste and adjust the spice level to your preference. You can add more gochugaru for extra heat or a touch of honey for a hint of sweetness.

    3. Rinsing and Seasoning:

    1. After brining, rinse the cabbage thoroughly under cold running water to remove excess salt.
    2. Squeeze out any remaining water from the cabbage leaves.
    3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the rinsed cabbage with the prepared gochugaru paste.
    4. Add the chopped scallions, radish, and carrots, and mix everything well until the vegetables are evenly coated with the spicy paste.

    Reddit Hack: Some Redditors swear by adding a dollop of fermented shrimp paste (saeujeot) for an extra layer of umami flavor.

    4. Fermentation Fun:

    1. Transfer the seasoned cabbage mixture to an airtight container, like a large jar or a kimchi crock.
    2. Press down on the mixture to remove any air pockets and ensure the vegetables are submerged in their juices.
    3. Leave a little headspace at the top of the container to allow for expansion during fermentation.

    Reddit Reminder: Don’t completely fill the container! Kimchi ferments by releasing gases, and a full container could lead to an explosion (not the fun kind!).

    5. The Waiting Game:

    1. Now comes the exciting (and slightly impatient) part – letting your kimchi ferment!
    2. Place the container at room temperature for 1-3 days, depending on your desired level of spiciness and sourness. The warmer the temperature, the faster the fermentation process.
    3. Burp the container daily by releasing the built-up pressure. This prevents the build-up of excessive gas and helps maintain a good balance of flavors.

    Reddit Pro-Tip: During fermentation, the kimchi might bubble or develop a slightly cloudy brine. This is perfectly normal!

    6. Kimchi Time!

    1. Once your kimchi reaches your desired level of fermentation, store it in the refrigerator.
    2. Kimchi continues to mature and develop flavor in the fridge, so taste it every few days to see how it evolves.

    Enjoy your homemade kimchi! It’s perfect as a side dish, topping for rice or noodles, or even as an ingredient in soups, stews, and fried rice.

    Nutrition Facts (per serving, approximately):

    Calories: 20-30

  • Fat: 0-1g
  • Carbohydrates: 4-5g
  • Sugar: 1-2g