Maangchi’s napa cabbage kimchi remains a must-have homemade staple, either as a convenient side dish for its many health benefits or as an ingredient for a quick one-pot mushroom tofu stew.
Lately, I have also been getting excited about kimchi juice, a by-product of kimchi. The last recipe recap post was put up two years ago. Since then I have tweaked the recipe slightly, here’s a list of what has changed since then, and what has not, and how I yield somewhat more of the umami powerhouse sauce like this from my kimchi-making process. I have served it as a dipping sauce for pot stickers, a very yummy idea!
++ Sticking to one head of cabbage ++
Kimchi is super easy to make at home. But I don’t want to go overboard and prepare more than what my fridge space allows or how much my family can reasonably finish before it turns too sour for our liking. This means sticking to one head of cabbage for my family of four. An overly long period of fermentation while procrastinating to finish up the batch doesn’t guarantee better kimchi.
++ Sticking to same brining method ++
For the brining process, I am still using the same Daiso-bought oblong sieve basin that is the perfect size for one head of cabbage. After rubbing coarse sea salt into each leaf and add enough water to cover the cabbage, I will use place a cast iron pot on top to press and keep the leaves fully submerged in the brine for at least 2 hours. The cabbage is ready when you can bend the hardy part without breaking it.
++ Switching to Brown Sugar ++
This has nothing to do with making tastier kimchi, neither did I switch for health reasons. I have been using brown sugar at home because this is the only type of sugar sold in bulk sans packaging at the grocery store. Nowadays, I believe that reducing sugar intake is a better health tip than say, replacing white refined sugar gram for gram with expensive raw/organic/unrefined ones. The colour of the porridge might turn out different at first, but after adding hot pepper flakes, the end result still looks fiery-red-delicious.
++ Switching to Immersion Blender ++
The handy and space-saving immersion blender is a godsend for my small kitchen when I need a simple tool to blend milkshake and puree cream soup. No need to lug its chunkier cousin, the countertop food processor, out from the kitchen cabinet anymore. The portable blender also works very well in this kimchi recipe to mix the sweet rice porridge with roughly chopped garlic and onion, and grated ginger.
After one minute of blending, all the ingredients turned into a smooth mixture. The best part of using an immersion blender: easy to wash. Cleaning up after cooking is always a meh task for me.
++ Switching to a less garlicky version ++
The original recipe calls for 24 cloves of garlic along with spring onions and chives. Now, I add just one bulb of garlic, 3 stalks of spring onions, and removing chives altogether from my homemade kimchi. I have also been adding lesser hot pepper flakes, 3 heaped tablespoons instead of 2 cups stated in the original recipe. As the kimchi paste-porridge is no longer as spicy as before, I will use up the entire batch for one head of cabbage. It may look excessive at first to be using so much kimchi paste on one head of cabbage, but I am trying to yield something yummy and nutritious as the kimchi goes through the fermentation process: kimchi juice!
++ Switching to Harvest More Kimchi Juice ++
During its initial fermentation, the cabbage will release more water and turn the kimchi paste into a runny liquid. From time to time, I will press to pack the leaves down using the back of a spatula, to mix the kimchi juice well.
After a day of maturing at room temperature, the kimchi is ready to be served. By now, I will transfer the well-ripened kimchi to glass jars and placed inside the fridge to slow down the fermentation process. The level of kimchi juice will continue to rise as the fermentation process continues for the next few days. By day three, the level of kimchi juice yield will be enough to keep all the leaves full submerged. At the end of the month, when all the cabbage kimchi has been consumed, I will be left with a jar of yummy kimchi juice which makes a handy condiment for making soup, stir-fries and more, with a touch of that kimchi’s signature tangy, spicy flavour.
Here’s a recap of the recipe that will yield a thicker kimchi juice/sauce for use as a cooking condiment.
Need more delicious reasons to make kimchi?
// this scrambled egg
// this grilled cheese sandwich
// this tofu mandu
// this udon
// this pancake
SIMPLE VEGAN KIMCHI
adapted from here
napa cabbage, 1 head
coarse sea salt
Porridge for kimchi sauce
2 cups water
2 tablespoons glutinous rice flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 bulb garlic
2 teaspoons grated ginger
3 heaped tablespoons hot pepper flakes
1/2 cup soy sauce
3 stalks scallions, chopped
To make kimchi with whole leaf intact, make a cross slit at the base of the cabbage, and tear the cabbage apart with hands from the core, you will have 4 portions of cabbage complete with green leaves and white stem. If the head of cabbage is really huge, I will divide it into 6 sections.
Rub coarse sea salt in between the leaves, paying more attention at the thicker white stem portion. Leave the cabbage in a shallow basin/pot, add water to cover leaves.
Optional: place a heavy cast iron pot on the vegetables to squeeze out the liquid in the cabbage. Leave this aside for 2 hours, turning the cabbage over once or twice in between.
In the meantime, prepare the kimchi sauce. In a saucepan, add water and glutinous rice flour to form a uniform mixture. Bring to boil while stirring the whole time. Do not leave the mixture to bring to boil over the stove on its own. Once the mixture starts to boil and thicken, add brown sugar and simmer for 1 minute. Turn off heat and let porridge cool completely.
To make kimchi sauce, blend roughly chopped garlic and grated ginger with cooled porridge using an immersion blender. Add hot pepper flakes, soy sauce and stir well. Add chopped scallions next and mix well.
When the cabbage is ready, rinse the leaves 3 times to thoroughly to remove salt. Drain well.
Scoop some kimchi sauce with a clean tablespoon and drop it on the cabbage, spread the sauce evenly and generously on each leaf with clean hands and place it in a clean pot/container. Repeat with the rest. Pour and spread any balance kimchi sauce on top of the cabbage evenly.
Cover the container and leave it on the kitchen counter to ferment at room temperature, preferably overnight. Next morning, you will check for air bubbles, which is a sign of fermentation taking place. Press to pack the cabbage down to let the air bubbles escape and also for the kimchi juice to cover the leaves. If you can reach the bottom of the container with a spoon, scoop the liquid from the bottom to transfer them to the top of the kimchi. Taste test if the fermented flavour is to your liking, you can store the kimchi in the fridge where fermentation will slow down.