To Make about 1 liter in volume you need
1 medium head Chinese cabbage
(Look out for it at specialist veggie shops. In Somerset West The Central Mini Mart often have this and Diakon)
about 80ml iodine-free coarse salt
water, preferably mineral water
15ml grated garlic (5 to 6 cloves)
5ml grated peeled fresh ginger
25ml fish sauce or 20ml salted shrimp paste mixed with 3 tablespoons water
30 ml gochujang paste (Korean chilli paste) or 30ml Korean chilli flakes
About 250g Korean radish or daikon radish, peeled and cut into matchsticks
4 spring onions, trimmed and cut into 10ml pieces
Optional: 2-3 large carrots, cut into rings or matchsticks
1-2 red chillies sliced (discard the pips if you don’t want too much heat)
Cut the cabbage. Cut the cabbage lengthwise through the stem into quarters. Cut the cores from each piece. Cut each quarter crosswise into 5cm wide strips.
Salt the cabbage. Place the cabbage in a large bowl and sprinkle with the salt. Using your hands, massage the salt into the cabbage until it starts to soften a bit. Add enough mineral water to cover the cabbage. Put a plate on top of the cabbage and weigh it down with something heavy, like a jar or can of beans. I just used a heavy dish on top. Let stand for 1 to 2 hours.
Rinse and drain the cabbage. Rinse the cabbage under cold water 3 times. Set aside to drain in a colander for 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, make the spice paste.
Make the spice paste. Rinse and dry the bowl you used for salting. Add the garlic, ginger, sugar, and fish sauce, shrimp paste, or water and stir into a smooth paste. Stir in the Gochujang, set aside until the cabbage is ready.
Combine the vegetables and spice paste. Gently squeeze any remaining water from the cabbage and add it to the spice paste. Add the radish, spring onions, chilli slices and carrots, if you choose to add them.
Mix thoroughly. Using your hands, gently work the paste into the vegetables until they are thoroughly coated. The gloves are optional here but highly recommended to protect your hands from stings, stains, and smells!
Pack the kimchi into the jar. Pack the kimchi into a 2 liter or larger jar. Press down on the kimchi until the brine (the liquid that comes out) rises to cover the vegetables, leaving at least 5cm or more of space at the top. Loosely place the lid on, gases must be able to escape; alternatively seal with plastic wrap, but be aware the odours attract flies or fruit flies!
Let it ferment for 1 to 5 days. Place a bowl or plate under the jar to help catch any overflow. Let the jar stand at cool room temperature, out of direct sunlight, for 1 to 5 days. You may see bubbles inside the jar and brine may seep out of the lid.
Check it daily and refrigerate when ready. Check the kimchi once a day, opening the jar and pressing down on the vegetables with a clean spoon to keep them submerged under the brine. (This also releases gases produced during fermentation.) Taste a little at this point, too! When the kimchi tastes ripe enough for your liking, transfer the jar to the refrigerator. You may eat it right away, but it’s best after another week or two.
Some recipe notes:
Salt: Use salt that is free of iodine and anti-caking agents, which can inhibit fermentation.
Water: Chlorinated water can inhibit fermentation, so use spring, distilled, or filtered water if you can.
Seafood flavor and vegetarian alternatives: Seafood gives kimchi an umami flavor. Different regions and families may use fish sauce, salted shrimp paste, oysters, and other seafood. Use about 2 tablespoons of fish sauce, salted shrimp paste, or a combination of the two. For vegetarian kimchi, I like using 3/4 teaspoon kelp powder mixed with 3 tablespoons water, or simply 3 tablespoons of water.
Garlic & Ginger: Too much garlic will make it bitter and too much ginger will make it sticky.
Ring the changes: If you have not added spring onion, fresh chilli or carrot, you can add these ingredients when serving the dish. Slices of red and yellow pepper also add interest.
Storage: Kimchi can be refrigerated for up to a few months. Use clean utensils each time to extract the kimchi from the jar.