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Basic Baechu Kimchi
Baechu (Napa cabbage) kimchi is one of the staple foods in Korea. Spicy
and tangy, it is typically served as a side dish, with rice, but is also
found in various Korean soups and stews.
This basic version has just the fundamentals; once you're comfortable
with this version, you might try adding shredded carrots, Daikon radish,
pickled baby shrimp, or any number of other things. Search around online
for variations to try!
This particular recipe is a modified version of the recipe posted by Dr.
Ben Kim, at
Preparation time:
active: 30 minutes
soak: 4 hours
sit: 24 hours
1.5 pints
1 lb. Napa cabbage ("bae-chu")
2.5 tbl. salt
2 tbl. red pepper powder ("kochu-garu"), preferably coarse
1 tbl. minced garlic (~2 cloves)
1 tsp. minced ginger (optional)
3 green onions (chopped coarsely)
1 tsp. anchovy sauce (korean-style, NOT thai!)
(if you don't like the fishy flavor of the anchovy sauce, or if you
just don't have any on hand, you can substitute the same amount of
white vinegar)
1/2 yellow onion (small)
1 tbl. honey (or granulated sugar works in a pinch)
Phase 1:
Chop the cabbage into bite-size pieces and place in a large bowl.
Add the salt to 2 cups of warm water, stirring until it is dissolved,
and then pour the salt water over the cabbage. Toss the leaves gently to
distribute the salt water.
Cover the mixture and let it sit for three or four hours, stirring occassionally
to make sure the salt water covers all the leaves.
Phase 2:
Gently rinse the cabbage to remove excess salt, and return it to the
Combine the red-pepper powder with 2 tbl water to create a thick paste.
(This will create a mildly spicy kimchi; use correspondingly more powder
for a spicier kimchi. 3 or 4 tbl powder will make a spicier mix.)
Be careful not to get it on your hands; the red-peppers are very spicy
and can burn your hands. Add the paste to the cabbage.
Add the minced garlic, minced ginger, green onions, honey, and anchovy
Cut up the onion however you like; cutting it coarse works well, and is
easy, but you may like it better diced. Knock yourself out. Then add the
onion to the cabbage.
Toss everything thoroughly, again being careful not to get the
red-pepper mixture on your skin. Stir until everything is well mixed.
Phase 3:
Transfer this "pre-kimchi mass" to a quart jar (or two pint jars),
pressing down firmly as it stacks up.
Transfer any remaining liquid to the jar(s) as well; this will help
form the kimchi brine.
Leave about an inch or two of space at the top of the jar to allow the
mixture to expand during fermentation.
Let the jar(s) sit in a dark place at room temperature for at least 24 hours,
after which it is ready to eat, or refrigerate. (Note that if you like
your kimchi more sour, you might want to leave it out for another day
or two, or more; myself, I don't like it very sour.)
It will supposedly keep for up to a month in your fridge, but mine
is always long-gone within a week!
For best results, you really ought to have a kitchen scale so you can
weigh the cabbage. This recipe is calibrated for one pound of cabbage.
In a pinch you can use 1/4 to 1/2 of a head of cabbage, but I've found
that Napa cabbage heads vary widely in size. Seriously, just get a
kitchen scale. You'll thank me for it.
"Red-pepper powder" (called "kochu-garu" in Korean) is actually the same
as most Cayenne pepper, although "Cayenne pepper" is a name that can be
given to any of several different hot peppers. If possible, look in an
asian store for "red-pepper powder"; that way it'll be most authentic.
Kimchi works best with coarse powder, but if fine is all you've got, the
end result will still be more than palatable!
Be sure you use Korean-style anchovy sauce, and NOT Thai fish sauce. The
two are apparently not the same, and using Thai fish sauce can (so I've
heard) result in the kimchi spoiling (going rotten) before it ferments.
Make sure the fish sauce you get is a dark amber liquid; anything else
will probably not work for Kimchi. If you don't live near an Asian market
that carries Korean ingredients, you can order almost anything you need
(including anchovy sauce) from at very reasonable prices.
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gtd commented Oct 8, 2010

MMmm, gotta try it.

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jjthrash commented Oct 8, 2010

It's getting to be kimchi jigae season.. :)

Looks good, I'll have to try it out.

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Awesome! Looking forward to making some. Thanks.

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jamis commented Oct 8, 2010

Those of you who do try this recipe, please share what goes well, or doesn't go well. Share variations as well. I'm all about iterating in the kitchen, and would love to further improve this recipe!

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jrcahoon commented Oct 8, 2010

Chal mokgesumnida! Also, do you cut up the cabbage at the beginning so it is easier? I always remember the Korean grandmothers packing the spice into half heads of cabbage and then cutting it up just before serving. I don't imagine it makes much of a flavor difference, just curious.

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jamis commented Oct 8, 2010

Yeah, I remember it being done that way, too. I cut them up because I don't have great big clay jars to store the whole cabbage heads/leaves in, and pint jars are more convenient for me to store. Also, by having the cabbage already cut up, I can take ready-to-eat kimchi out of the jar, instead of making a great big mess on my counter as I remove a head of cabbage all dripping with kimchi brine and try to cut it there. :) But the recipe should work regardless of how you prepare the cabbage, as long as it gets soaked in brine, and the spices get evenly distributed throughout.

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