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Happy Monday, everyone!  I hope you all had a great weekend.  I’m slowly, but surely, getting my new laptop rebuilt, but have enough of it restored so I’m back to business as usual – blogging, at any rate.  I’ve been forced to restore my files via Carbonite at night, or else my system runs so slowly I can get nothing done.  Oh, well.

The Paleo Iron Chef competition is still going on; the powers that be gave us Saturday off, so we’re on Day 13 and the not-so-secret ingredient is garlic.  I was going to post, and submit, pickled garlic and ramps (ramps are in season!  ramps are in season!), but the weekend just got away from me.  I will post the recipe, it just won’t be today.  Instead, you get Kimchi – which works, technically, since this recipe contains an entire head of garlic.

We’ve been kind of dancing around fermented foods for awhile.  Like a friend of mine who says he eats liver because he knows it’s good for him, but doesn’t enjoy it, I was hesitant to try fermenting.  Yes, I know they are good for me – all those lovely probiotics and all – but I hate sauerkraut.  I mean I really, really hate the stuff.  Beloved keeps telling me that’s because I’ve only ever had the nasty commercial kind you get at the grocery store, which is true, but still.

Sauerkraut.  Blech.

So, after some time of going round and round on the subject, we decided to compromise:  we’d make kimchi.

Kimchi is essentially Korean sauerkraut with a kick.  A traditional fermented condiment dating back at least 3,000 years, there are literally hundreds of variations of kimchi – and you can find a recipe for each and every one on the internet. 😛  So, I took a couple of recipes I found, sort of combined and tweaked them, and this is what I came up with.  And you know what?

It’s delicious.  Spicy and salty and tangy and tart.  And the longer it sits in the fridge it just gets tangier and more tart.

And I no longer fear the sauerkraut.

I think part of my problem was the fact that every time I tried sauerkraut, it was a huge portion of limp, pickled, salty cabbage piled on a plate.  True sauerkraut – indeed, kimchi as well as most fermented foods – is meant to be eaten as a condiment.  Several times a week, we’ll spoon a couple of tablespoons of the kimchi – as much as 1/4 cup, which is the serving size – on our plates with whatever else we’re eating.  I’ve gotten quite fond of mixing it with a compatible dish on my plate – usually vegetables, but often meat – and I’ve found that it really is as good as I’d been told.  It makes my mouth happy, and my digestive system even happier.

I’m really glad I made kimchi first; I just love the spiciness of it.  As soon as this batch is gone – we’re on the second quart of it, and I think we made it about 3 weeks ago – we’ll be fermenting something else.  And I will eat it gladly.

Note:  I’ve modified this recipe since originally posting to include a small amount of whey, which helps facilitate the fermentation process (it’s not necessary, but your kimchi will take longer to reach the “bubbly” stage without it).  You can obtain whey by draining full-fat, unflavored yogurt through some cheesecloth suspended over a clean container, such as a glass jar, for a few hours.


Serves: 32
  • 1 large Chinese or Napa Cabbage
  • 1 gallon water
  • ½ cup kosher salt
  • 1 small head of garlic, peeled and finely minced
  • 1 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • ¼ cup fish sauce (no sugar added)
  • ⅓ cup chili paste
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons whey
  • 1 bunch green onions, sliced, including green parts
  • 1 medium daikon radish, peeled and grated
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and grated
  1. Slice the cabbage lengthwise in half; cut away the tough stem parts. Chop roughly.
  2. Dissolve the salt in the water in a large stock pot; place the cabbage in the water. Place a plate on top, weighted if necessary, to keep the cabbage submerged. Place on the counter for at least 2 hours, or up to 24.
  3. Mix the remaining ingredients in a very large metal or glass mixing bowl.
  4. Drain the cabbage; rinse, and squeeze it dry. Add the cabbage to the bowl with the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
  5. Pack the kimchi into two 2-quart, clean glass jars and cover tightly. Allow the jars to stand for one to two days in a cool place, around room temperature, out of the sun.
  6. Check the kimchi each day for 1 to 2 days. When the fermentation process has begun, the kimchi will bubble slightly, and should be refrigerated. If not, let it stand another day. I do not recommend allowing it to sit on the counter for ore than three days – refrigerate the jars; they will still ferment.
  7. Once refrigerated, the kimchi is ready to serve. It will keep for many weeks, and continue to ferment and become more sour. If, at any point, it begins to smell bad, throw it away immediately without tasting.
  8. Nutrition (per serving): 14 calories, <1 calories from fat, <1g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 423.7mg sodium, 114.7mg potassium, 3g carbohydrates, 1.1g fiber, 1.5g sugar, <1g protein.


15 thoughts on “Kimchi”

  1. Kimchi is my favourite, I don’t know why I haven’t tried making it yet! I also love Sauerkraut and am one of those sick people who can eat it straight up but itself. So, there ya go, hahaha.
    Looks like it’s high time for me to do some of my own fermenting!

  2. i seriously was going to make kimchi tonight. i think i will use your recipe. great minds think alike i guess.
    regarding ramps, where did you find yours? i went hunting recently with no success.

    1. Chuck, several farmers at the Farmers Market in Peninsula (at the Old Trail School) had them this past weekend. Our CSA farmer (the Bakers has a wild batch in their woods but they aren’t quite ripe – they will be at the first outdoor market the week after next in Howe Meadow. I always thought they we only foraged but it appears they can be cultivated as I have seen farmed ramps at Mustard seed and even a Whole Paycheck in the middle of the desert in Las Vegas. See you at the market in a few weeks?

      1. maybe see you at the market, i will definitely let you know if we go. i recently got 90 pounds of beef and buy a lot from a local farm. plus my garden is expanding like crazy. my need for the market has dwindled over the years.

        i prefer to find the ramps on my own in the woods. it is probably time to go out hunting for them again. i almost bought some seeds last fall but never did it.

        i did make kimchi last night. the aroma of the green onions, ginger, garlic and jalapenos was incredible. can’t wait till it is ready.

        1. So kewl! I wish I stayed in town long enough to have a garden but it dies if I can’t attend to it. Someday! The local ramps should be mature within the next few weeks – if I can find some time I will go forage them. If not, my money is good at the Bakers.

          I assume that if I plant them they are perennials. For my time and energy I am leaning toward a perennial garden. We already have Sage, oregano, rosemary, rhubarb and a budding asparagus garden. I was thinking of kohlrabi but you gave me an idea with ramps! The only problem is that now I have an all early harvest garden. I guess that means I can kick back and can the rest of the summer. Hmm.

  3. We live right in the middle of Koreatown. Or K-Town as LA folk call it. And the idea of making my own kimchi has never entered my mind. You are so bold. Interesting trivia: All LA restaurants get a Health Dept. cleanliness letter grade – A being the best, C being scary. Apparently, all traditional Korean restaurants in the city get a C, which made me avoid them. But it turns out that the C comes from the fact that when they make kimchi, it sits at room temperature for days, which goes against Health Dept. regulations of keeping everything refrigerated at a certain temperature!

  4. I love kimchi.
    When I was pregnant with one of my kids, I absolutely craved it. Yes, I know I’m weird.
    As for sauerkraut … my mom is mainly German, and if SHE made you a German dinner including her sauerkraut, I guarantee you’d like it.

    P.S. Isn’t a ramp something you ride your bike down??? : )

  5. I’ve never been a sauerkraut fan since my very German mother insisted I try some for good luck on New Years Eve when I was quite young. I refused and she sent me packing. But I have since had good kraut and do think you will like it if it is fermented.

    But I will settle for this year in and year out. It’s a great compliment for so many dishes and has been good fro my ahhumph! Er, digestion as you put it.

    1. my brother in law’s family has a cabbage farm. he makes 100 pounds of kraut at a time. don’t tell him but he makes it too salty. but we still have all the homemade kraut we can handle.

  6. Kimchi is one of my absolute favorites. Korean food over all is one of my favorites:). I think they must be the most paleo of all cultures. Thank you for the recipe.

  7. I love Kimchi. but have a tip about the whey.
    If you are making it as you suggested by draining full fat yoghurt, try spooning in some good quality vanilla through the leftover goo you have, and eating that with amandines (almost see through french cookies) and maple syrup, for dessert.
    The goo and vanilla is a Dutch dessert called Hangop (hang up). I generally don’t have much faith in Dutch cuisine (I’m Belgian) but this is a winner!

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