It all began with a rather forlorn looking cabbage lurking grumpily in my refrigerator.
Not a very inspiring image, is it? Undeterred, I looked around for something to jazz up this healthy veggie. Aha! Chili paste! Everything tastes better with chili paste!
I’m calling this “Almost Kimchi” because this isn’t an authentic Korean recipe. This is simply a nod toward the spicy/pungent, fermented cabbage blend that is ubiquitous to Korean cuisine. True kimchi has a much, much stronger flavor profile and can be a bit of an acquired taste for those unfamiliar with Korean food. Try this recipe first. If you like it – and I think you will – go ahead and try the real deal in a Korean restaurant. Trying new foods is a delightful adventure – enjoy!
Ingredients (Makes 2 quarts)
1 medium head of cabbage, sliced into thin strips
2 tablespoons salt
1/2 cup of daikon, sliced into matchsticks (or substitute sliced red radishes)
1/2 cup of carrot, sliced into matchsticks
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely diced
1 cup of chili vinegar
1 tablespoon chili paste, such as nam prik pao
1/4 cup fish sauce (or substitute 2 tablespoons soy sauce)
Step 1) Place sliced cabbage in a large strainer and sprinkle with salt. Let sit for at least an hour or for as long as overnight. This will cause the cabbage to give up some of its water.
Step 2) Rinse the salt off of the cabbage and pat dry. Don’t be afraid to really give the cabbage a squeeze!
Step 3) Combine all remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl and blend until well combined. Gently mix in cabbage.
Step 4) Transfer cabbage mixture into 2, quart size mason jars (using a wide mouth funnel is helpful, but not essential). Cover jars and place in the refrigerator.
Step 5) After about 24 hours, you will notice that the jars appear less full. This is normal, and is one indication that fermentation is beginning to occur. Quickly open and reclose the jars, to let any gasses escape. Wait about three more days, and your Almost Kimchi will be at its most delicious!