Kimchi so easy an eight year old could do it!
Most kimchi recipes on the internet seem to be complicated, laden with MSG, sugar or shrimp paste. My “kimchi” recipe is vegetarian because I like the flexibility of fermenting without animal products—but you could add shrimp paste to make it more authentic. If the people around you are freaked out by the term ‘kimchi’ you can call it your “wild sauerkraut”. My 15 month old loves it and now is the time to get your kids hooked on it and let them develop a taste for wild fermentation!
One of the best benefits to this recipe is that you are using ingredients which are normally very hard to digest, but with pickling, cabbage, radishes and turnips become excellent fuel for the body. Or if you prefer a good old fashioned sauerkraut recipe Kate gives an excellent recipe with a background on the benefits of fermentation.
Fermenting things is super easy, the gist being that you keep things submerged in a brine consisting of water and sea salt for several days. Really hard to mess this up, but if you do mess it up, please comment below and describe in detail.
You will need:
A glass/ceramic/plastic or teflon bowl for fermenting (metal does something wonky to the enzymes so best to avoid it)
A plate to cover the top of the bowl
A sterilized rock, paper weight or jar with water in it to weigh the plate down.
If you can’t find one of these ingredients, just do your best and experiment:
At least two heads of cabbage—preferably organic nappa cabbage
A few carrots
2 daikon radishes
A bunch of regular radishes
Any other variety of radishes your heart desires
Horseradish root (an Asian grocer will carry this, though I found mine at whole foods!)
Good quality unprocessed sea salt <–super important!!! (I use coarse Celtic sea salt).
Optional for spicy kimchi: fresh hot peppers of your choice and cayenne pepper.
Wash everything, if your root vegetables aren’t organic I recommend peeling them with a spoon. You can leave the stalks on the radishes if you’d like.
Slice up the cabbage, chop the all of the radishes and turnips however you’d like them—I like mine in big circles or semi circles to make snacking easier. Put them in the bowl and with a generous handful of sea salt rub the salt into the cabbage until its coated, then add water and the rest of the goodies, using enough water to just barely submerge everything. Stir it up! Press the ginger and grate the horseradish root, you can use a lot since the fermentation takes out a lot of the zip. Mash up any hot peppers (I highly recommend you wear gloves—beginners mistake) you have and add them along with cayenne pepper.
Place your plate on top and weigh the plate down so everything is submerged in the brine. Place a dish towel over it to keep bugs out and place in a dark spot at room temperature.
You may play gongs for your kimchi, sing to it, pray over it. Check on the kimchi through out the next few days and make sure it is staying submerged, stir it if you feel inclined. I let mine sit for 7 days in 70 degree weather in Florida. Taste it along the way, it should be soft-ish, it will begin to smell like kimchi. The radishes will turn the water pink. Once it tastes ready, transfer it along with the juice to jars with lids. Placing it in the fridge will stop the fermentation. The juice is excellent added to lukewarm soup and the veggies are an excellent go to snack for a busy person and bursting with beneficial bacteria!