There's a Korean saying: "There are as many types of gimchi as there are holes in the ground." Reason being that that's how gimchi/kimchi is traditionally made.
A friend who lived in Korea for many years informed me that traditional kimchi is made in fall, left in kimchi pots in the ground for several months during winter, to ferment naturally. Although most Koreans now, she wrote, have special "kimchi refrigerators" - sort of like wine fridges - that keep the kimchi at the right temperature until it's ready in spring. Wow. I want one of those!
So, my version of fermented cabbage may be the furthest possible process from authentic gimjang, but it tastes great and I love having fermented veggies in my fridge at all times. And, it's so easy to make. For this version, I didn't just use cabbage. I thinly sliced Brussels sprouts, used both green and purple cabbage, and added in small pieces of golden cauliflower. It was definitely a clean-out-the-veggie-bin version.
- 1/2 C salt
- enough warm water to submerge all the veggies
- 7 to 8 C veggies, sliced or chopped into bite-sized pieces (I used Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and golden cauliflower)
- 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and pressed
- 1/3 C hot sauce (I used Trader Joe's Sriracha)
- 1/2 C vinegar (I used white distilled vinegar)
- 2 T maple syrup
In a large mixing bowl place salt and veggie pieces. Add in enough warm water to dissolve the salt. Submerge the veggies in the salt water and weigh it down with a plate, so it stays submerged. Let veggies soak and soften in the brine for 2 hours.
Use your hands (or tongs instead if you have any open cuts as the vinegar can sting) to thoroughly incorporate the hot sauce mixture with the veggies.
Pack the kimchi into a clean jar - or a few jars. Screw the lid on tightly and 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. The kimchi will continue to ferment in your refrigerator and should be consumed within a month.