See also – Making Kimchi – part 1 and Making Kimchi – part 2 With all of your veggies chopped, now you’re ready for the last, long stretch. The first thing you’ll need to do is salt the 10 lbs of nappa cabbage to help reduce some of its water content. I, again, did this in the sink. You mix 1 cup of table salt with the chopped cabbage and “rotate” it frequently. I left the plug stopper thingie in the strain/drain position, so I’m not sure how much water it lost, but the volume of cabbage decreased dramatically over the 1.5 hour salting period. Once done salting, rinse it well. I must have rinsed it about 4 times. Drain and set aside
In the meanwhile, you can start on your spice paste. First, the garlic, onion and ginger get processed into a smoothish paste. I pulsed it in the processor for about a minute. The picture below wasn’t quite smooth enough. You’ll see the final result in the pre-mixed paste picture later on.
Maangchi calls for making a “porridge” of sweet rice powder, water and sugar. I was skeptical at first, but soon understood why it was important. Without the porridge, it will be hard to ensure that the veggies get even exposure to the spices – the porridge’s thick texture helps the spices stick to the veggies in an even way, but this glopy texture magically disappears over time. The sweet rice powder and water have no flavour themselves, so this is all just a (literal) glue for the spice paste.
So this is what 1/2 cup of the rice powder mixed with 3 cups of water looks like after brisk stirring (to prevent clumps start with cold water) and about 3 or so minutes on medium heat (just below a simmer).
Yup – this stuff is THICK. Once “cooked” you can take it out of the pot, or leave it there to cool. That should take about 1 hour – about the time your cabbage will be done salting. Add the 1/4 cup of sugar at this point, it won’t change the end product.
So here is the spice paste pre-mixed: rice powder porridge at the bottom, the puree of garlic, onion and garlic, and a whopping 2.5 cups of the red pepper flakes. I went for the full dose of pepper flakes being brave, but my end result is pretty darn spicy. I might have put 0.5 cups less (just 2 cups) knowing that. Add 1 cup of fish sauce (which is a pain to pour out of the spurting bottle!).
This is the spice paste after mixing – it is a scary dark red!
Okay – so now that the paste is mixed, it is time to take all your veggies out of the fridge and mix things up. I had started trying to mix everything at once, but this was a BAD idea. Instead, you should take yet another bowl, and take a scoop of paste, add handfuls of each of the veggies, and mix (with both a spatula and tongs) like a chef would on TV when preparing a salad or some kind of pasta dish.
Continue to work in small batches, dumping the mixed kimchi into the lock & lock container as you go.
I was lucky and everything fit just perfectly into my container! If it didn’t, I had a glass bowl ready for the leftovers. Maangchi says you can eat it right away, so I tried some. The flavours were right, but the veggies were too crunchy, and the spices had not yet penetrated the food, so I think it is better to give it a day or so.
You can leave the kimchi out for the night, or put it right into the fridge (which is what I did) and it will slowly start to ferment. Mix it regularly, and try to use it up in a reasonable amount of time (it can go bad). This is a heavy container, so I put it on the bottom shelf of my fridge. Within 3 days the flavours were just right, so I felt it was ready to make Kimchi Soup – more on that next time…