The Vegetable:

Chinese cabbage

Also known as napa, napa cabbage, pe-tsai, wongbok, or chihli. This is a vegetable of major importance in China, where over 7500 000 acres are grow. Chinese Cabbage is also hugely popular in Korea, Taiwan, and Japan. Grown as an annual crop, most cultivars are biennial and produce tight, compact, cylindrical heads.

This vegetable is a subspecies of the turnip and belongs to the same genus as Western staples such as cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower.

The Chinese cabbage became a staple in Northeastern Chinese cuisine for making suan cai ,or Chinese sauerkraut while in Korea, napa cabbage was developed into kimchi.


The Dish:


Some Korean families have their very own style of making kimchi. Some cooks swear by a little bit of sugar, others completely shun sweeteners. There are people who include carrots and others who believe this is a no no.

Vegans can remove the shrimp paste or fish sauce added to the recipe or try using kelp powder to give it an umami flavour.


The Ingredients:

1 medium Chinese cabbage

¼ cup of iodine-free sea salt

Water, preferably distilled or filtered

1 tablespoon grated garlic (5 to 6 cloves)

1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger

1 teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons fish sauce or salted shrimp paste, or 3 tablespoons water

1 to 5 tablespoons Korean red pepper flakes (gochugaru)

250gms daikon radish, peeled and cut into match sticks

4 medium scallions, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces



The How To:

  1.  Cut the cabbage lengthwise through the stem into quarters. Cut the cores            from each piece. Cut each quarter crosswise into 5 ½ cm -wide strips.  
  2. Salt the cabbage. Place the cabbage in a large bowl and sprinkle with salt. Using your hands, massage the salt into the cabbage until it starts to soften. Add enough water to cover the cabbage. Put a plate on top of the cabbage and weigh it down with something heavy, like a can of beans. Let it stand for two hours.

  3. Rinse the cabbage under cold water 3 times. Set aside to drain in a colander for 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, make the spice paste.

  4. Rinse and dry the bowl you used for salting. Add the garlic, ginger, sugar and fish sauce and stir into a smooth paste. Stir in the gochugaru, using 1 tablespoon for mild and up to 5 tablespoons for spicy. Set aside until cabbage is ready.

  5. Gently squeeze any remaining water from the cabbage and add it to the spice paste. Add the radish and scallions.

  6. Using your hands, gently work the paste into the vegetables until they are thoroughly coated. The gloves are optional here , but highly recommended.

  7. Pack the kimchi into a tight jar. Press down the kimchi until the brine rises to cover the vegetables, leave at least 2.5 cm  of space at the top.

  8. Seal the jar.

  9. Leave it to ferment for 1 to 5 days. Place a bowl or plate under the jar to help catch any overflow. Let the jar stand at cool room temperature, out of direct sunlight.

  10. You may see bubbles inside the jar and brine seep out of the lid.

  11. Check the kimchi daily, opening the jar and pressing down on the vegetables with a clean finger or spoon to keep the vegetables submerged and the gases releasing.

  12. When the kimchi is ripe enough transfer to the fridge. You may eat it right away, but it is best left for another week or two



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