Simplified Vegan Kimchi
This recipe is adapted from one of my favorite websites for recipes from the garden, the Minimalist Baker (www.minimalistbaker.com). The first batch that I made was too spicy for my taste, but I suffered through the pain to eat it because it was so good!! Even though this is a simplified Kimchi recipe I like to at least double it because it is still somewhat time intensive & it keeps well in the fridge. We eat ours with pretty much everything, including breakfast scrambles, avocado toast, and any asian dish. If you can't find Korean chili powder you can use another variety. I usually use the Italian chili flakes (the kind they have at pizza joints), but have had to adjust the amount a little each time I have made it to get the right level of heat. You can also make this with other varieties of cabbages and even other vegetables. I hope you enjoy it!
1 head napa or savoy cabbage (outermost leaves removed & rinsed)
1 Tbsp sea salt (plus more as needed)
2 whole carrots (finely chopped or grated into matchsticks)
6 green onions (roughly chopped)
VEGAN FISH SAUCE (https://minimalistbaker.com)
2 Tbsp tamari (or soy sauce if not gluten-free)
2 Tbsp coconut sugar (plus more to taste)
1/4 cup pineapple juice (from a can)
1/4 cup warm water
3 Tbsp fresh ginger (peeled and chopped)
1 head garlic (1 head yields ~1/3 cup cloves)
1 small white onion (or sub 1/2 large per 1 small)
1/2 cup Korean red chili flake* (or ground // to taste)
Make sure that you are using clean surfaces & utensils. You also need to wash your hands throughout the process of preparing your kimchi in order to prevent introducing bad bacteria & disrupting the fermentation process.
Quarter your well-rinsed and dried cabbage (savoy or Napa) and carefully removing the bottom core (hard white section) with a sharp knife. Discard.
Place your cabbage in a large mixing bowl and begin packing a generous amount of sea salt in between each of the leaves. Do so by lifting each individual leaf and sprinkling with sea salt. Repeat until all leaves have been salted. Then press down and let rest for 30 minutes. This softens and breaks down the cabbage, drawing out moisture, priming it to be coated in the sauce.
Prepare your vegan fish sauce by adding all ingredients to a small mixing bowl and whisking to combine. Set aside.
Prepare your chili sauce by adding fresh ginger, garlic, onion and red chili flake to a food processor or blender. Start at 3-4 Tbsp and work your way up. Taste and adjust flavor as needed. Add vegan fish sauce to this mixture and pulse to combine. Set aside.
At this time, your cabbage should be ready to flip. Wash your hands and turn each section of cabbage over so it’s facing the opposite direction. Then pack down with hands to compress. You’ll repeat this process 3 more times (for a total of 4 times), waiting 30 minutes in between, and washing hands before touching cabbage.
In the meantime, add your chopped carrots and green onion (optional) to a medium mixing bowl, along with the sauce. Stir to combine, then cover and set aside.
While waiting, this is a good time to sterilize your storage containers. Bring a pot of water to a boil and place your containers, in a clean sink and pour the boiling water over top. Let containers cool slightly, then dry with a clean towel and set aside.
Once you have flipped your cabbage 4 times (it should be tender and shrunken down quite a bit), it’s time to rinse. In very cold water, rinse each section of cabbage to remove excess salt, then place on 2-3 absorbent clean towels and pat dry. Also separate the cabbage leaves at this time, so they’re easier to work with. Rinse and dry the mixing bowl the cabbage was in, then return the dried cabbage to the bowl.
Get your sauce with carrots and green onions and begin coating each leaf with the sauce. Be generous when coating, but also keep in mind you need enough sauce to coat all of the cabbage. Once the cabbage is thoroughly coated with sauce, wash hands and get your sterilized storage container(s).
With clean hands, begin placing the coated cabbage leaves in the container, packing down to ensure there is as little air as possible between leaves. Continue until all cabbage is packed in, then press down very firmly to remove air.
Top with clean, sterilized lid, and set in a cool dark place (such as a cabinet, not the refrigerator) to ferment. How long to ferment is up to you. The resource I used suggested 36 hours minimum, then transfer to the refrigerator for 1 week to ferment longer. The longer you ferment the kimchi, the tangier and intense the flavor will be, and the more tender the cabbage will become. 21 hours is the maximum recommended time frame.
Each day it ferments, open up and press down with a clean utensil, such as a spoon, to press out air bubbles and ensure the kimchi is immersed in liquid. A good sign of proper fermentation is seeing little bubbles in the sauce when you press down.
A good indicator of when it’s done fermenting is the smell. If it smells pleasant to the nose and tangy, like the kimchi you’re used to trying, it’s probably ready to transfer to the refrigerator. Kimchi will keep in the refrigerator for at least 3-4 weeks, and even months. You’ll know it’s gone bad if mold has formed or the smell is sour or unpleasant.
Enjoy your Kimchi with pretty much anything!! Yum!!
This recipe was adapted from the Minimalist Baker www.minimalistbaker.com.