Since 2013, UNESCO recognizes kimjang (traditional process of preparing and preserving kimchi) as an intangible cultural heritage, a tradition and a body of living knowledge. Indeed, if for many it is pieces of fermented nappa cabbage, kimchi is originally a means of preserving the autumn harvest, and there are hundreds of types of kimchi today, characterized by the type of vegetable used. In Korean, the word “kimchi” simply means “salting seasonal vegetables”, and specialist chefs do not hesitate to vary the pleasures by using many different products other than cabbage. In Korea, the closer you get to the south of the peninsula, the redder and more pungent the kimchi is, due to the chili powder it contains. Since the 1980s, refrigerators specially designed to store kimchi have even been marketed in the country. They are colder, and the temperature is more constant there, so that the air circulates less, and this for better fermentation.
The fermentation technique is similar to yogurt, or pickles, and while kimchi takes days (or even weeks) to ferment, the recipe is actually less complicated than it looks. This preparation, very healthy and low in calories, contains many fibers and vitamins depending on the type of vegetables chosen. There are different marinade recipes, and most contain Asian fish sauce.
How to make homemade kimchi?
For a large jar of cabbage kimchi, about twenty servings.
- 1 Chinese cabbage
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp. grated ginger
- 1 tbsp. teaspoon powdered ginger
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- 3 tbsp. tablespoons nuoc-mâm (fish sauce)
- 3 tbsp. tablespoons gochugaru (chili)
- 200g daikon radish
- 4 spring onions
- 50g Guérande salt
We start by cutting the cabbage into quarters, then we remove the ribs before cutting into strips of about 4 cm. We slip everything into a large salad bowl, where we add the salt, then massage for a few minutes to soften it. Cover with water, and leave to stand for 1 to 2 hours. Pass the cabbage under cold water, and let it drain for at least 15 minutes.
We peel and cut the garlic, ginger and onion, before puréeing everything in a bowl. In this same bowl, add the sugar, the nuoc-mâm, mixing until you get a pasty texture. Finally, add the chilli and mix.
In the salad bowl containing the cabbage, add the radish (daikon) cut into slices, the spring onions and the chilli paste. Mix well before placing in a jar by pressing and packing insistently, so as to drive out the air bubbles which prevent fermentation from taking place. Finally, close with the lid, and leave to ferment at room temperature between 2 and 5 days.
Once the latter is well fermented, the jar is placed in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 weeks before tasting.