“Kimchi is the national food of Korea and comes in many forms but this one is the most widely known and eaten. It’s usually very spicy, sour, salty and pungent but the great thing about making your own is you can adjust all of these elements to your liking." ” Poh Ling Yeow, Poh & Co. 2
Great to have with rice and seaweed, with cold or hot meats in a sandwich, and also as an instant flavouring for soups. Poh & Co. 2
- 1–1¼ wombok (Chinese cabbage), outer leaves discarded, quartered lengthways, stem-end left intact (see Note)
- 225 g (1 cup) salt, or as needed (see Note)
- 125 ml (½ cup) water
- 1½ tbsp glutinous rice flour (see Note)
- 5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 3 cm piece ginger, thinly sliced
- ¼ Pink Lady or Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and sliced
- ¼ onion, sliced
- 200 g daikon (Chinese radish), peeled and sliced
- 1 cup Korean chilli powder (gochugaru) (see Note)
- 125 ml (½ cup) fish sauce (see Note)
- 6 spring onions (scallions), cut into 1 cm lengths
- 2½ tbsp caster sugar
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Standing time 2½ hours
Fermenting time At least 3 days
Place the cabbage quarters in a clean sink and cover with cold water. Gently pry the leaves apart at the base to wash them well, taking care to keep them attached at the base. Transfer to a colander and briefly leave to drain, then, holding each cabbage quarter with the base resting on a baking tray, push the leaves apart and sprinkle between each layer with a light layer of salt; salt the stalk parts closer to the base more generously.
Transfer the cabbage to a large bowl and leave to stand for 2 hours or until cabbage stalks have wilted but still make a crisp sound when snapped. Place the cabbage in a clean sink and cover with cold water, then move the leaves to rinse off excess salt. Rinse well under running water, then leave to drain in the colander for 20–30 minutes. Gently wring as much moisture out of the leaves as possible.
To make the pickling sauce, place the water and glutinous rice flour in a small heavy-based saucepan over low–medium heat, stirring continuously for 2–3 minutes or until combined to form a thick white paste. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, combine the garlic, ginger, apple, onion and daikon in a food processor or blender and blend until roughly chopped; do not puree. Add to the cooled flour paste, then add the chilli powder and fish sauce and stir until well combined. Stir in the spring onion and sugar.
Wearing disposable kitchen gloves, place the cabbage quarters onto a baking tray, then spread the paste between each layer of leaves to cover well. Transfer the cabbage mixture to a 2–2.5 litre glass container with a lid and gently press; do not compact too firmly, as it may explode during the fermentation process. Spread the remaining pickling sauce over and seal. Leave in a cool, dark place in the pantry for 3 days to ferment, then taste; it should have a hint of acidity. If not, leave to ferment for another day and taste again until it has the flavour you like.
Store the kimchi in in the refrigerator for up to 3 months. Serve cold as part of a shared meal.
• I used home-grown wombok and daikon, which were much smaller than those you can buy, but this recipe is for regular-sized vegetables.
• The amount of salt is a rough guide, as the amount you need will depend on the size of your cabbage; it may not be necessary to use it all.
• Glutinous rice flour is available from Asian grocers and select supermarkets.
• Korean chilli powder (gochugaru) is found at Korean and most Asian grocers; if unavailable use regular chilli powder from the supermarket.
• Choose a Korean brand of fish sauce, which is much more pungent than Thai or Vietnamese varieties.
Photography, styling and food preparation by china squirrel.
Poh & Co. 2 Thursdays at 8.30pm on SBS.
View recipes and more from Poh & Co. on our program page.