How to make kimchi

How to make kimchi

Kimchi is a combination of fermented napa cabbage with chilli, fish sauce and other vegetables and aromatics. It is considered to be Korea’s national dish and comes in many different varieties. Raw cabbage is cured in salt before being preserved in a flavoured liquor. It is believed that the creation of Kimchi was a result of the long cold winters in Korea, where farming fresh crops was impossible. Kimchi is similar to sauerkraut, another pickled cabbage dish originating in Germany.

Gochugaru is a type of dried Korean red chilli ground into flakes – these days, it's available in many large supermarkets, but most Asian grocers should stock it too.

There are many different ways of preparing kimchi, with different chefs and cooks including their own twists. The recipe below is for a standard kimchi, but feel free to experiment with other ingredients (just keep the ratio of salt to cabbage the same). In the video above, chef Chantelle Nicholson includes fennel for a more aniseed flavour.

Method

1
Slice the cabbage finely, discarding the tough core
2
In a large bowl, massage the salt into the cabbage and add the water – there should be enough water to cover the leaves. Place in the fridge overnight
3
Drain the cabbage and dry thoroughly before returning to the bowl with the spring onions and daikon. Mix the fish sauce, gochugaru, shrimp paste, sugar, garlic and ginger together and toss the cabbage in this paste to evenly coat
4
Transfer the kimchi into a sterilised airtight container and leave to ferment at room temperature. You will need to release the air a couple of times during the fermentation process (a method known as 'burping') which should take up to a week
5
Once the kimchi has fully fermented, store in the fridge for a maximum of 2 months. Kimchi is past its best when the cabbage loses its crunch

How to use kimchi in cooking

Kimchi has a fiery kick which is nicely balanced by the fermented sour and salty flavours. As the fermentation process is continual, the flavour will change over time and develop. Kimchi is often enjoyed with barbecued foods such as hot dogs or pulled pork, served in grilled cheese sandwiches and tossed in soups, stews, scrambled eggs or fried rice. In Korea it's a quintessential side dish, often served on its own with every meal. Take a look at our collection of kimchi recipes below for inspiration.