Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Baechu Kimchi (Vegetarian/Vegan)

Kimchi is a traditional Korean dish of fermented cabbage (baechu = Napa cabbage, also called "hakusai" in Japanese) with hot chili powder; it's a dish that you either love or loathe. No Korean meal is complete without kimchi, whether it takes center stage in a dish such as jjigae or jeon, or is served simply as banchan. Personally, I LOVE kimchi. It's not too incredibly expensive to buy in stores, but it's incredibly easy to make at home, and tastes much more authentic.



Aside from unavoidable garlic breath, kimchi has numerous health benefits. It is low-calorie but high in fiber, vitamin C and beta carotene. It is also rich in vitamins A, B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), calcium and iron. Since kimchi is lacto-fermented much like sauerkraut and yogurt, it helps aid digestion as well.

To make your own kimchi, you will need to find gochugaru, which is a fine chili flake powder available at any Asian market. If you cannot find it, you can substitute crushed red pepper flakes; just grind them into a powder using a coffee grinder/spice mill. Also available is gochujang, which is a premade chili paste for making kimchi. For a vegetarian/vegan version, feel free to omit the fish sauce. The main difference between this recipe and the storebought varieties is the traditional usage of a pear/apple/onion blend for sweetness instead of the sugar used in commercial brands. 

Kimchi
adapted from Dr. Ben Kim

Ingredients:

1 head Napa cabbage, aka Chinese cabbage
1/4 - 1/2 cup sea salt
1/4 cup gochugaru (or substitute cayenne pepper)
1 Tbsp garlic paste (or grated garlic)
1 Tbsp ginger paste (or grated ginger)
3-4 green onions, sliced
2 Tbsp fish sauce (optional, omit for vegan)
1/2 yellow onion
1/2 Fuji or Gala apple
1/2 Asian pear/apple pear

Separate cabbage leaves and chop into bite-size pieces (leaves & the middle stem). Dissolve sea salt in a bowl of warm water. Pour over cabbage leaves, toss gently, and let sit for about 4 hours. The exact amount of salt & water isn't terribly important; you mainly want to salt the cabbage to remove excess moisture and allow it to wilt. 




After 4 hours....
 After 4 hours....

Rinse cabbage several times, drain well, and transfer to a large bowl. 

Squeeze out as much of the excess liquid as possible.
 


Combine gochugaru with 1/4 cup warm water and stir to form a paste. Add to cabbage.





Add the garlic, ginger, green onions and fish sauce. 

I cheated and used pre-made ginger & garlic pastes.




Blend the onion, apple and pear with 1 cup of water. Add to cabbage. Mix well with GLOVED hands to combine. If you don't have any gloves handy, simply use plastic bags (the produce ones work great). 

Yellow onion, Fuji apple, and Asian pear (aka Apple Pear) 

Remember to use only 1/2 of the apple, pear & onion.




Transfer to clean glass jars, packing the kimchi tightly but leaving a bit of headspace at the top of the jar. Top with kimchi brine. 




Cap tightly and let sit at room temperature for 24 hours before transferring to the refrigerator. At this point, the kimchi is ready to eat! 


19 comments:

  1. Hi Julia!
    I recently discover your blog and i like it :)
    Your Kimchi recipe is resting the 24 hours in our kitchen!
    Thanks for share!

    Ana.

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  2. Ana! Thank you for reading! Please let me know how your kimchi turns out! :)

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  3. Kimchi turns out really delicious!! yummy yummy ;)

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  4. Awesome, I've been looking for a kimchi recipe! What is the shelf life for these guys?

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  5. May, I have kept the kimchi for as long as 3 months in the fridge. However, after about 6 weeks, the kimchi gets a bit sour (which makes it IDEAL for dishes like kimchi jeon or kimchi jjigae!).

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  6. Hi.. I was wondering what the apple and pear do for the flavor? I have seen many diff recipes, and never saw this? So just curious. Can't wait to try.

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    1. The apple and pear are actually used in traditional kimchi; most commercial kimchi is just made with sugar, or worse, corn syrup. The sugar is there to add a sweetness to the kimchi (or else it would be REALLY sour), as well as to feed the good lacto-bacteria that are fermenting the kimchi. Hope that helps!

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  7. Wow. For some reason, I always thought of kimchi making as a super long process, but from the way you broke it down, it doesn't seem nearly as hard as I'd assumed, haha. I just have a quick question about the apple pear. I live in a pretty small town and the closest grocery stores that sell more than your staple bread, butter, eggs and bananas, is about an hour away. Is it necessary to search an apple pear out? Or can I just substitute it for a regular pear? I mean, is there a difference between the two regarding the kimchi's flavor? Thanks~ (:

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    1. Turtle, a regular pear will work just fine - don't worry about trying to find an apple pear! I don't know whether a Bosc or Anjou pear will work better, but I HAVE used a pear before when I couldn't find any good apple pears locally. Hope that helps, and thanks for reading!

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  8. Hi, I noticed you mentioned you sugggest cayenne if you can't get gochugara. I STRONGLY advise against this. It will be indebile, too spicy from cayenne.. I've tried. If you can't get korean hot pepper, buy the hot pepper flakes you see in store that is used for pizza topping and grind into powder yourself, it is much milder and closer to kimchi.

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    1. Thanks for the suggestion, Jaak! Luckily, I'm able to find gochugaru pretty easily around here. I'll update the post to suggest crushed red pepper flakes instead of cayenne!

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  9. Hi Julia,

    I love Kimchi can you tell me how much this makes? I would be the only one eating it so I might have to cut the recipe down a bit. Thanks!

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    1. This recipe should yield 4 pints of kimchi (or 2 quarts). Everything is packed VERY tightly into the jars. I think you could easily halve the recipe and be just fine!

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    2. oh thank you, I live in a very small midwestern town, going to buy the korean hot powder from amazon thinkin that is my best bet but surely this will be worth it. Thanks and I LOVE YOUR BLOG, though I am having probs navigating on it a bit but added you to my favorites so i can come back here often

      PS this is Sling can't figure out what the heck they want as a profile lol so I am going with anon

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    3. You're welcome, Sling!! You can DEFINITELY get the gochugaru on Amazon - keep it in a Ziploc bag and it will keep FOREVER! Thank you for READING, too!!

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  10. I am wondering what the “kimchi brine” is that you mention at the end of the instructions. Is that just the liquid that you find at the bottom of the bowl as you transfer the vegetables and fruit to the jars? Thanks!

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    1. Jennifer, you're exactly right! It's just the cabbage juice and salt and everything.

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  11. My husband is allergic to onions (as well as leeks, shallots, and scallions). Can the unión be left out or will it affect the fermentation process?

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    1. You can absolutely omit the onion/scallions and it will not affect the fermentation at all!

      It's not as traditional a version as this recipe, but check out my "Quick Kimchi", which doesn't have any onions and is ready in only hours instead of days: http://www.ibelieveicanfry.com/2013/02/quick-kimchi-vegetarianvegan.html

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