Instant Kimchi


Even though most kimchi is fermented, it is also delicious fresh. This recipe makes a big batch so that you can have some right away and then store the rest to ferment over time. You will need a big plastic basin or maybe a bucket to make it, or even use your sink or bathtub to supersize it. Of course you can also make smaller batches if you like by halving the recipe. The cabbage will wilt dramatically once it’s been salted. The Korean chile pepper flakes, gochugaru, which I use liberally, are made by drying Korean red chile peppers in the sun, then seeding and crushing them into flakes. The bright red pepper flakes look fiery and intimidating, but they are actually milder than they appear, which is why I use them by the cupful.

Kimchi’s character changes over time as it ferments in the refrigerator. This kimchi is delicious eaten right away as a fresh and crunchy side salad that’s perfect in Kimchi Tacos or with rice and sunny-side-up fried eggs as a simple lunch. As the kimchi ferments, it will continue to sour and wilt, becoming more suitable for use in stews like Seafood Soondubu with Kimchi.


1 large head napa cabbage (about 3 1⁄2 pounds), quartered lengthwise and then sliced into 1 1⁄2-inch-wide pieces

1 cup kosher salt

½ cup sweet glutinous rice flour

½ cup sugar

¼ cup fish sauce

10 garlic cloves, smashed and coarsely chopped

1 1-inch knob fresh ginger, minced

1 cup gochugaru flakes

1 large daikon, quartered and thinly sliced

1 medium carrot, quartered and thinly sliced

½ yellow onion, diced

1 bunch scallions (green and white parts), chopped

2 leeks (white parts only), thinly sliced

½ cup dried anchovies or dried baby shrimp (optional)

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Place the sliced cabbage in a large bowl and add water to cover. Add the salt, stir to combine, and soak for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes, until the cabbage starts to wilt.

Meanwhile, bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan, and stir in the glutinous rice flour until well combined. Stir in the sugar, and simmer until the mixture forms a thick porridge. Set aside
to cool.

To make the gochujang chili paste, pour the glutinous rice mixture into a large bowl. Add the fish sauce, garlic, ginger, and gochugaru flakes and mix together. Set aside.

Drain the salted cabbage, rinse it under cool running water, and then squeeze out any excess water. In a very large container, combine the drained cabbage with the daikon, carrot, onion, scallions, and leeks. If you want a stronger umami flavor in the kimchi, stir the dried anchovies or shrimp into the cabbage. Stir in the gochujang to coat the vegetables completely. Sprinkle
the sesame seeds on top to serve.

Pack the leftover kimchi into several large jars, leaving a little room on the top for some natural bubbling as the fermentation process takes place.


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