Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Precise Kitchen Elf's Kimchi

Ever since I took the boys with me to Half Moon Bay to preview Ground Up Burgers, R has been pestering me about making kimchi. While we tasted at least a handful of different, creative burgers, R was enamoured with the Gangnam-Style Burger - a 100% locally produced, grass-fed burger topped with a spicy aioli, house-made kimchi, and beets.

So, when we went back to Ground Up for Jake's birthday lunch, on our way back from San Francisco, R stepped right up to the counter and ordered his burger. Then he turned to me and asked, "Mom, when can we make our own kimchi?"

When I first made kimchi, I was so concerned that it was completely non-traditional that I didn't even call it kimchi. I blogged it as Fermented Cabbage, Korean-Style.

Then two friends - one who is half Korean and one who lived in Korea for several years - assured me that the is no single-way to make kimchi. So, now I'll just accept that mine may not be like anyone else's, but we like it, especially this little boy...


  • 1/2 C salt (we used Monterey Bay Salt Company's original)
  • enough warm water to submerge all the cabbage
  • 4 small heads of cabbage, cored and leafed
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • 1/3 C Korean chili paste
  • 1/2 C vinegar (we used a Pinot Grigio vinegar)
  • 3 T honey

In a very large mixing bowl dissolve the salt in warm water. Submerge the cabbage into the salt water and weigh it down with a plate, so it stays submerged. Let cabbage soak and soften in the brine for 2 hours.
A few minutes before the cabbage finishes soaking, combine the minced garlic, Korean chili paste, vinegar, and honey in a large bowl. Stir well to combine. Once the cabbage has finished soaking, drain, rinse it and squeeze it gently to remove excess liquid.

Use your hands (or tongs instead if you have any open cuts as the chilies and garlic can sting) to thoroughly incorporate the chili mixture with the cabbage.

Pack the kimchi into a clean jar - or a few jars - and screw the lid on tightly. Keep in a cool, dry place, out of direct sunlight (my pantry worked well for this) for 3-4 days. After 3 days, open the jar and look for tiny bubbles. If it’s begun to bubble, it’s ready to serve or to be refrigerated. If it hasn’t yet begun to bubble, leave it for another day. After 4 days, you should notice a few tiny bubbles throughout the jar and can either serve your kimchi or put it in the refrigerator. The kimchi will continue to ferment in your refrigerator and should be consumed within a month.

Counting down to our very own Gangnam-Style burgers...

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