How To Make Kimchi (My Mom’s Famous Spicy Kimchi Recipe)
Have you ever had kimchi? (Sometimes spelled Kimchee, too).
Today I’m going to teach you how to make kimchi. And not just any kimchi – my mom’s famous spicy kimchi! This stuff is the bomb!
Kimchi is a traditional fermented food and it’s even Korea’s national dish. Koreans generally eat a small amount of kimchi with every single meal. Kimchi is made with vegetables and spices and is lacto fermented. That means it’s jam packed with beneficial probiotics that help our immune health and digestion. In other words – it’s super, super good for you! Those smart Koreans definitely know what’s up 😉
Homemade fermented foods like kimchi contain 100 times more probiotics than a supplement. In fact, just one small spoonful of kimchi will give you more probiotics than an entire bottle of probiotics! (Source)
If you’ve never tasted kimchi, it’s like a flavor explosion in your mouth. It’s a delightful combination of crispy and bold and spicy and tangy. If you like sour foods like pickles and sauerkraut, I think you’ll really love kimchi, too.
Kimchi is awesome on wraps, sandwiches, on hamburgers or just eaten by the spoonful. But my very favorite way to eat kimchi is mixed with eggs for breakfast. So yummy!
My mom makes the best kimchi. I’ve had my fair share of kimchi and no one beats my mom’s kimchi. I spent a few days visiting with her last week and she taught me exactly how to make kimchi so I could share it with you all. And today I’m showing you how to make it based on my mom’s famous spicy Korean kimchi recipe. Enjoy!
If you are a regular eater of kimchi, leave me a comment and let me know what foods you like to pair with your kimchi 🙂
How To Make Kimchi
- 2 heads Napa cabbage (about 6 pounds total)
- 1 cup sea salt
- 2 cups spring or distilled water
- 1 large diakon radish (about 1½ pounds), peeled
- 4 large carrots (about ¾ pound total)
- 1 apple, peeled and core removed (don't leave the apple out! The apple provides sugar for the bacteria to eat so it can ferment properly)
- 2 bunches of scallions, chopped
- 1 whole head of garlic, peeled
- 4 ounces fresh ginger
- 1½ cups hot Korean chili flakes (found in Asian markets or online. I use THESE)
- optional: 1 teaspoon fish sauce (I use THIS)
- optional: pinch or two (or three!) of dried red pepper flakes. The more pinches, the spicier! I typically use 2 pinches - about 1 teaspoon.
- ⅓ cup additional distilled or spring water
- clean mason jars (I use 8 of THESE jars)
- Cut your cabbage in one inch (bite size) pieces and place it in 2 very large bowls.
- Add ½ cup sea salt and 1 cup of water to each bowl and toss with your hands to coat.
- Let the cabbage sit for one hour, tossing every 20 minutes. You'll start to see the cabbage releasing liquid and shrinking in size - that's exactly what we want!
- While the cabbage is sitting, shred your radish, carrots and apple in a food processor. If you don't have a food processor, you can chop them in small pieces. Set aside.
- In a food processor, process the garlic and ginger until smooth.
- Fold in your Korean hot chili flakes, red pepper flakes (if using) and fish sauce (if using) and ⅓ cup water. Stir until it becomes a paste. Set aside.
- After the cabbage has sat for 1 hour, rinse it very well with cold water and then strain the water. Rinse and strain for a total of 3 times. Rinsing and straining 3 times is important because you want to wash away most of the salt or it will be way too salty!
- Place your rinsed cabbage in one of your very large bowls (it should all fit in one bowl now).
- Add the radish, carrot, scallions and apple and your hot chili/garlic/ginger paste.
- With gloves on your hands (important!), toss everything together making sure that the paste coats all the veggies well.
- Add the kimchi to your mason jars packing it in tightly. Make sure to leave at least 2 inches of headroom (the kimchi will expand as it ferments). Close the lids to your jars. This recipe usually makes about 8-10 pint size jars.
- Close the lids on your jars and let them sit for 3-5 days.
- You must "burp" the jars once a day during these 3-5 days. You do that by quickly opening the jar and then closing it. You'll hear gas releasing - just like what it sounds like when you open a soda. That is normal and a good sign! You should see small bubbles in your jar, too. And if you hold the opened jar to your ears, you'll also hear it fizzing. That's like music to a fermenters ears 🙂
- After 3 days, give your kimchi a taste. If it tastes tangy and "fizzy", that means your kimchi is finished and you can move your jars to the fridge. They will last about a year in the fridge. If you don't taste that tanginess, let your kimchi sit for a few more days.
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