Kimchi, Kimchee, good for you and good for me. Both spellings are right, depending on who you ask and no matter the name they take, fermented foods like kimchi are the perfect addition to every meal.This recipe is more kimchi inspired due to lack of the Korean chili paste used in many traditional recipes. I use chili flakes and tomato paste and it tastes pretty awesome to me. The fish sauce adds depth, while the ginger gives it a nice brightness. After assembling the ingredients and with the addition of fermentation time, you are left with the kind of kimchee you may just scarf directly out of the jar.
Outfit your food processor, if you have one, with the slicing blade and cut the cabbage lengthwise into wedges that fit in the chute. If cutting the cabbage by hand, a larger chop is totally fine and will taste equally good, just be mindful of large chunks of the core and slice them thinner or discard. Trim, peel and cut the diakon, slice the onions and spring onions and combine all ingredients into a bowl.
Either with a kraut pounder or with your hands like in the picture, squeeze and press the vegetables until enough liquid is released to cover the vegetables. If there is not enough liquid released and you are not lightly sweating you should probably keep pounding for a little longer. If you are in a full sports sweat and you still don’t have a lot of liquid for your kimchi, you can add some filtered water to top it up but add the very minimum you need to keep vegetables submerged.
(If you are using starter or whey– see below–add it now.) Mix it up, jar it up and put the jar on a plate or dish and leave out somewhere of average room temperature (not on the toasty top of your fridge for example, unless you want a really fast, possibly explosive fermentation) and not in direct sunlight. Vegetables should be submerged under liquid and a few slices of vegetables and toothpicks or water in plastic baggies can be used if it needs but I just use screw top jars and stuff the veggies in and fill them pretty close to the top. The overflow, which makes my husband nuts but I just wipe them and rinse the tray. Don’t tighten the lid too tight and open the jars every day to burp them. Within a few days things should be bubbling along nicely. Let it sit for three weeks or so for maximum microbial benefit but taste as you go, the level of softness the vegetables develop can be a matter of personal taste. If any mold appears, something went wrong and it needs to be chucked out–100%–for sure.
2lbs organic Napa Cabbage
2T Tomato Paste
2T Fish Sauce
1/2 C diakon radish, peeled & cut into thin medallions
1 Yellow Onion, sliced
3 Spring Onions, sliced
1/4 C raw milk whey or fermentation starter, If desired*
*I like to use whey or a fermentation starter like Caldwell’s because: the chances of mold are highly reduced; I often have raw milk whey leftover from making kefir; ferments take less time. However I have successfully fermented non-organic but farm-y looking cucumbers in unfiltered tap water left out overnight to allow the chlorine to evaporate with no starter and it worked, so the microbial life on vegetables alone is often sufficient to get an awesome ferment going, no starter needed.
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