Sure, H Mart has about a zillion types of prepared kimchi and banchan for sale, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me from trying to make it at home myself. I used a recipe from that same Korean cookbook I’ve been talking about. My girlfriend thought it was strange that you had to cook a combination of glutinous rice flour and water first, before starting, but I assume the mixture acts as some kind of stabilizer. It obviously doesn’t impact the flavor in any way. So the first step was making the spice mixture (above). You can use this same spice mixture to make other types of kimchis too. It’s basically garlic, ginger, fermented shrimp, fish sauce, sugar, and more ground red pepper than you would believe, like more than a cup.
Actually, the real first step is rubbing sea salt into the Napa cabbage halves, and then soaking the cabbage in salt water for 4 to 6 hours to soften it, but I didn’t get a pic of that. When the cabbage was softened, I added some daikon, chives, and leeks (see above pic) to the spice mixture.
This is when things get crazy. You rub the spice mixture into the softened cabbage. It’s a little scary-looking, I know. It’s best to take your time with this step, to get the spice mixture in every nook and cranny.
Then you neaten things up a bit and tuck the cabbage halves into a bowl.
I’m not sure how important this next step was, but the recipe said to reserve a few cabbage leaves to use to cover the kimchi for the long marinating process. I covered the bowls with plastic, and then you wait, and wait, and wait. Overnight is best.
And there you have it — some really pretty kimchi that I made myself at home. I’m quite proud of it. Yes, my refrigerator smells pretty wicked right now, even with the kimchi in some Tupperware containers, but I’ve enjoyed the kimchi with a few meals already. It was a lot of fun making it. I’m not sure I’d do it again, but it’s just one of those things you have to try for yourself. Is it the best kimchi I’ve ever had? Probably not, but it’s pretty darned good.