The first batch I made was after a recipe of David Lebovitz and the rest were purely exploratory. I discovered replacing half of the fish sauce with soy sauce brings a pleasant depth of flavour. Chunks of other vegetables make for more interesting textures and colors. The future surely holds other exciting discoveries - David's new recipe with rice vinegar might become a new favorite.
1 medium chinese cabbage
80g coarse salt
1 whole head of garlic, minced
2 tbsp minced ginger
1 bunch green onions, cut in 5cm pieces
1 small pear, grated or 1 tsp honey
1/2 cup chili powder, preferably Korean
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
Optional: a grated carrot, a small daikon (japanese radish), a few julienned pak choi leaves
1. Wash the chinese cabbage and cut in half lenghtwise. Remove the tough base and cut crosswise in bite sized pieces (about 5cm long).
2. Fill a big bowl with 4 liters of water and disolve the salt in it. Add the cabbage and place a heavy plate or lid on top to make sure all the pieces are submerged.
3. Leave to stand for 2 hours then rinse well to wash off the salt.
4. Combine the garlic, ginger, chili powder with the fish & soy sauce to obtain a thick sauce. Stir in the green onions, grated pear/honey and the other vegetables, if using.
5. Using your hands (yes, it's messy) mix the cabbage with the sauce, until it's nicely covered and you've got tiny bits of garlic and chili under your nails. Please refrain from sticking your fingers in your eyes for a good few hours.
6. You'll need a clean 800ml jar to finish: force the cabbage down the jar so there aren't any spaces left on the sides. Cover with a clean cloth and set aside at room temperature for 1-2 days.
7. When you see small fermentation bubbles forming, the kimchi is ready! No bubbles? Leave it for one more day.
8. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds before serving.
Kimchi should be kept in the fridge and it will only become better as time goes. Two weeks after creation is supposed to be the best time to enjoy it, but tastes differ so it's really up to you.
And when, if ever, your kimchi grows very old and stinky, it will be just perfect for kimchi soup.