Kimchi. Kimchee. Kimchae.

by | Sep 8, 2014 | Fermentation, Food, Kimchi, Obfuscation, Ramblings | 3 comments

Just to set the tone in proper fashion, my first post is a highly controversial one. Kimchi. Folks can’t even seem to agree on the spelling, let alone the right way to do it. In the interest of my own sanity and because the book has already been written on the right way to make kimchi (and all things fermented for that matter) i’m going to fire one over the bow and spell out how to make one particular kind of kimchi. It may not be the right way, it certainly isn’t the wrong way, it’s my way. And it works. And it’s pretty darn good.

Kkakdugi. It’s fermented daikon radish with a short list of other good stuff mixed in.

Daikon Kimchi ingredientsTo the short list of folks that have asked me for this recipe, i’m sorry it’s taken months and birthing an entire website to share with you something that I could have scratched out on a napkin. But here it is.

It will take you roughly two weeks to make this, so if you have kids or a job best to start making plans to clear your calendar prior to proceeding. Actually, from the moment you lay out your ingredients and tools to the time your kimchi is ready it’ll be roughly two weeks. The actual hands on time is ridiculously short. If you’re quick with a blade and have some elbow room, prepping takes but a few minutes.

I’ve laid out the quantities based on what you’ll need PER POUND of daikon. Once you set out to do the chopping, mixing, squishing, and all that goes into making this or any kimchi it would be a real shame to make just a pound. You’ll get it all fixed up and in a jar, patiently waiting until the day you start scarfing it down then regret will set in upon the realization that at your current rate of consumption the fruit of your labor is going to last you about a day. So go ahead and multiply these quantities by 5 or so and you’ll have yourself a nice little nest egg. And before it’s all gone run out to the farmers market and get yourself 10 pounds of daikon for the next round.

Here’s what you need, all will be organic or no spray. You don’t want to be consuming chemicals along with your kimchi, not to mention that irradiation and chemicals are a bullet at high noon to all those helpful little wild bacteria creatures that make fermentation happen.

1 pound daikon radish
water (not from the tap)
1/2 Tablespoon salt (not from the table)
1/2 Tablespoon sugar, kind of optional (decide for yourself where your sugar should or shouldn’t come from)
1 Tablespoon non pasteurized soy, tamari, or fish sauce
2 Tablespoons red chili powder or flakes (use more than this)
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced or grated
1 stalk green onion, sliced to whatever size you’ll want to eat

Tools needed

A bowl large enough to hold and mix all your ingredients (of the non metallic variety)
A plate or lid or something else entirely that will fit within your bowl in order to squish the daikon (again, non metallic)
Clean glass jars, enough for all of your kimchi, prepare accordingly

Now, make a bunch of room for all your fixins.

Cut DaikonTop your daikon and keep the greens for something else. Peel and wash. Chop into cubes.
Put the daikon into your large bowl and mix it up with the salt and sugar.
Let it all sit while the salt pulls moisture out of the daikon. This could be an hour or it could be five, you’ll want a good bit of brine in the bowl before you move on. You can help the process along by laying a dish atop the daikon with some weight on it to help press out the moisture.

While you wait for the radish to puke out it’s salty guts go ahead and prepare the rest of your ingredients then go find something else you should be doing.

Pour off the brine into another container.
Toss the soy/ fish sauce, chili powder, garlic, ginger, and onion into the bowl of daikon and mix it up.
Spoon, funnel, dump, or otherwise proceed with transferring the contents of the bowl to the empty jars. Don’t fill them to the top, leave a couple or three inches empty space at the top of the jar.
Press the contents of the jar down to remove empty space, you want it all to be nestled up close. No air pockets. To do this I use something clean and strong that just fits through the mouth of the jar and I push down real darn hard. You’ll find that the kimchi will compact down into the jar and the brine will rise. If you get the mix squished down so much that there’s wasted space in your jar, add more, press down again, and remember to leave yourself that couple inches of head space at the top of the jar.

One key element to the whole shebang is that it’s best that your ingredients stay below the brine level. Good bacterias do their job in an anaerobic environment. Bad stuff like mold apparently prefers air and might try to move in on any wayward peaks rising above the surface.

If you’ve smashed and sweated and still have some of your veggies sticking up above the brine, top off the jar with more brine. You can use the extra brine that you poured off prior to becoming a kimchi artisan, i’ve done it and it works just dandy. The rule of thumb for brine however, is two Tablespoons salt per quart of water, or so i’ve heard. If you’re a stickler for detail, mix yourself up some brine and top off your jars.

Put the lids on, not too tight and put your jars in a cool, darkish place. Check them daily, sometime in the first few days the fermentation process will pressurize the jars and you’ll want to loosen the lids enough to release said pressure pretty much daily. This step is only necessary if you wish to avoid the possibility of exploding glass and kimchi. Once content with the whole mess transfer it all to the fridge. Or to the root cellar if you should be so blessed. In all reality your kimchi should store, refrigerated, far far longer than the time in which it will be consumed.

This is not a food blog.