Kimchi to Koreans is what achaar is to Pakistanis; a staple item accompanying almost all main course dishes.
With the onset of K-dramas, K-Pop, and K-cuisine in Pakistan, we are here to cover the basics and prepare you for your Kimchi preparing adventures! But first, here’s why Kimchi is the entire rave.
It’s a simple algorithm really, with Netflix sporting K-dramas as a must-watch — and almost all K-dramas branding kimchi as their staple food — it is almost natural for viewers to crave what they consume from these series.
Here’s the same algorithm used to link the viewership for The Queen’s Gambit with chessboard sales, summed up by Business Insider.
Kimchi is in itself a fermented concoction, lining main courses with all flavours tangy, salty and spicy. There are various versions of kimchi, the most popular being cabbage kimchi (baechu kimchi) and radish kimchi (Kkakdugi). Both of these are easy to make with ingredients available at your local grocery store.
The process of making kimchi is very simple; you have a base vegetable set for the type of kimchi you want to make, the type of salt (coarse salt), and the spices you would like to add as flavour to your kimchi. Here’s a run-down an easy-to-make recipe to help fill up your pickle jars!
Cabbage Kimchi and Radish Kimchi
Cabbage Kimchi is seen as the most widely consumed kimchi across the fore. The recipe uses Napa cabbage as its primary vegetable to be picked and salted. Radishes are a bonus, and carrots add to the texture and color of the concoction.
1 Large Napa cabbage and 1 radish
Optional 1 carrot (julienned)
1 cup of coarse sea salt
5 cups water
4 tablespoons of fish sauce
Korean chilli flakes (or cayenne pepper) - according to taste
5-7 green onions
½ cup of white rice
3 tablespoons of garlic
1 tablespoon of ginger
1 tablespoon of sesame seeds
1 tablespoon of sugar
● Cut the cabbage lengthwise and chop it according to your preference. Note that kimchi can, later on, be cut using scissors.
● Mix half a cup of salt with 2 cups of water and douse the cabbage, radish, and carrot in until it becomes comparatively soft. Sprinkle and coat the rest of the salt on the cabbage to cover all sides, and then pour the rest of the water in. Weigh the cabbage down and let it sit in the salt solution for 2- 4 hours.
● Once done, strain and rinse the vegetables under cold water three times. Save a spoon or two of the salt solution for later use.
For the spice paste:
● Take ½ cup of boiled rice, add the chopped/minced garlic, ginger, sesame seeds, sugar, and chilli flakes (or cayenne pepper)
● Add the wet ingredients: Fish Sauce, and if needed, saltwater. The added step depends entirely on the viscosity you prefer.
● Tip: In case you do not have fish sauce, soy sauce is a good alternative.
● Blend them up and toss them on your salted cabbages.
Prep and Preservation:
● Mix in the paste with the salted vegetables thoroughly.
● Tip: Use gloves when mixing to protect your hand from stains and smells, and to keep things hygienic.
● Pack the mixture now into a jar, press it firmly to let the brine cover or coat the top of the mixture.
● Let the jar sit in the fridge for a day or two to intensify the flavour!
● It is ideal to keep the jar sealed for a day or two, to let it sit and ferment before use. Kimchi tastes better as the days go by!
● An average jar of kimchi would last you 1-2 weeks after the jar gets opened.
● Iodized salts are generally not preferred to salt vegetables as they may inhibit the fermentation process that follows after.
This recipe is tried and tested and sure packs a punch. It also offers you a door to explore a variety of kimchi-crafted snacks!
Happy kimchi making!