Yes, I made kimchi. Kimchee, kimchi, whatever. You still know what I’m talking about. For newbies, this may seem terrifying. It’s a pickled side dish that is normal to have on the dinner table as ketchup is here in America. For semi-newbies, I’m going to assume you’ve had a bad experience trying kimchi. But I’m also going to assume you ate at some mediocre Korean restaurant that never fails to put terrible kimchi on the table. This stuff below is good. Really good.
Now, don’t take this to be the traditional route for making this renowned Korean side dish. For years, I watched my mom make it but I have absolutely no desire to put in that much effort, packing the final product into jars bigger than my head. Considering we find it hard enough to go through two mason jars of kimchi in our household, I figured out a simple and easy way to make kimchi. This version only has the daikon radish, no napa cabbage.
I’ve never liked store made kimchi. Usually, it’s far too sweet or has way too much garlic (gasp, is too much garlic a real thing?). When I eat kimchi, I actually want to taste the radish and cabbage. I mean, without those ingredients, what is kimchi?
Prior to moving to Pensacola, I never would have thought I would have to make my own kimchi. It just never crossed my mind. In our only “asian” market here in Pensacola, they do sell jars of it. But I have a strong feeling those jars have been sitting there for a wee bit too long by the looks of it. Dark and mysterious looking = not worth trying. So with that, I had to make my own. The first few times were, well, terrible. But after experimenting for the past year, this is an easy and full proof way to make fresh kimchi.
Take a look at this salted fermented shrimp. The smell is astounding. Astoundingly bad. Little black beady eyes staring back at you. That one shrimp you focus on is swimming among thousands of it’s comrades. I always wonder how they even get this many tiny shrimp. Is there some magical little worker with tiny little fingers separating them out? Where do they come from? Why did someone decide fermenting tiny shrimp was a good idea?
BUT it adds great flavor to the kimchi. If you can’t imagine putting these little eyed creatures in your batch, then skip it. But you need to put in the fish sauce at least. Equally as pungent but not equally strange looking.
First: dice your radish into 1 inch cubes. Place in a bowl and sprinkle coarse salt all over the pieces. This starts the pickling process and you will see after 15-20 minutes that water will start to draw out of the radishes.
Second: This (below) is rice flour and water. I don’t really know what this does for the kimchi, but in the midst of making up my own kimchi recipe, I vividly remembered how I used to help my mom by stirring this like crazy.
Take about 1/3 cup and 1 cup water and boil over medium heat. It will become a opaque paste once boiled. Once it reaches this paste stage, turn it off and let cool.
Third: Check on your radish. They should be giving out more and more water, as you can see below.
Fourth: to your cooled rice flour paste, add 1/2 cup chili flakes, 1 teaspoon salted shrimp, 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce, 2 cloves crushed garlic, and some crushed ginger. Mix.
Fifth: take your radish and drain out any excess water that has come out. To this, add your chili paste mix, sliced green onions, and chopped Chinese chives. Mix.
Sixth: lightly pack your mixture into mason jars (or whatever jar you have). With the excess paste left on your bowl, take a few tablespoons of water and mix it together. Add this to your jars.
Seventh: close your jars, clean them up, and let them sit out of the refrigerator for at least 1 day. Then, move to the refrigerator.
This will be ready to eat in a matter of days. I prefer to eat kimchi when it is more fresh. Enjoy!