Besides just snacking, kimchi can also be served as a side dish by itself, and is irresistibly delicious on top of a warm bowl of rice, but that is just the beginning! This spicy, garlicky, gingery delicacy can be used in many creative ways: Kimchi fried rice, kimchi grilled cheese sandwiches, kimchi burritos… Have fun, and let your culinary imagination go wild!
Homemade Kimchi [Vegan]
- 2 pounds napa cabbage, cut into 2 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 pound daikon radish, peeled, sliced thinly and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 seedless cucumbers, cut into 3-inch segments, then sliced lengthwise into 6 to 8 pieces
- 1 cup sea salt (non-iodized)
- 2/3 cup rice vinegar
- 1/2 cup finely chopped garlic
- 1/4 cup peeled and grated ginger root
- 1 cup gochugaru powder (see note below)
- 1/4 cup sesame seeds
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 carrots, peeled and julienned into thin matchsticks
- Place the prepared cabbage, daikon, and cucumber in a large bowl (the biggest one you have), and toss well. Sprinkle some of the salt over the top, then, wearing food-safe gloves, toss the vegetables with your hands, coating them evenly.
- Add more salt, and toss again. Continue adding a bit at a time while tossing until all the salt has been added and the vegetables are evenly coated. Cover the bowl loosely with a clean kitchen towel, and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
- While the vegetables are sitting, make the pepper paste. Combine the rice vinegar, minced garlic, grated ginger, gochugaru powder, sesame seeds, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor, and process until blended. Scrape down the sides and process again until a thick paste forms.
- When the vegetables are done sitting, you will notice a lot of liquid has collected in the bowl. Transfer the vegetables to a strainer, and rinse them well under cold water, using your hands to toss them, ensuring that all surfaces have been evenly rinsed. Let them drain briefly, then in batches, pat the vegetables dry with a clean lint-free towel.
- Rinse and dry the mixing bowl, then place the vegetables back in the bowl, and also add the julienned carrots and the red pepper paste. Wearing food-safe gloves, use your hands to toss the mixture until it is evenly mixed and every surface of the vegetables is coated with the paste.
- Transfer the mixture to one large 8-cup jar, or a few smaller jars, packing it in tightly so no air bubbles remain, and leaving about 1 inch of space at the top of each jar. Let the jars sit tightly closed on the counter at room temperature for 24 hours (or 2 days if your kitchen is chilly), then transfer to the refrigerator for storage. Enjoy!
Gochugaru powder is available in Korean grocery stores or online. When buying daikon, you may see two varieties at the market: longer and thinner Japanese daikon (pictured here) as well as the more rounded Korean variety. The flavors are similar, and either kind will work perfectly here. Be sure to use gloves when tossing the food by hand. Spicy peppers and bare hands can be a painful combination. Feel free to sample the kimchi at any time before or after it goes into the fridge. The flavor will develop and change over time as the kimchi ferments, and the jar will last for weeks. Fermentation is the goal here, not spoilage, so if you see discoloration or white mold, throw it out. To keep the kimchi fresh, whenever you remove some from the jar, be sure to press the vegetables back down so they remain in the sauce and do not dry out. This will keep them from drying out and spoiling. This variety is called mak kimchi (literally “careless” or “rough” kimchi), because the cabbage is cut into pieces before use. In traditional baechu kimchi, the cabbage stays whole, and is cut into slices for serving.