“Oooh, this one’s gooooooood,” I caught myself saying out loud when I first tasted this tangy, spicy delight. While in some ways it is a traditional kimchi, the first thing that sets it apart is the use of red cabbage (or purple cabbage if you prefer to call it that). Red cabbage is packed with vitamin C and other nutrients that you don’t find in green cabbage or the traditional napa cabbage commonly used for kimchi. I used more spices too: Fresh garlic, ginger, onion and turmeric to go along with the red pepper flakes.
I also chose to salt the veggies as is commonly done with sauerkraut rather than make a brine more typical to kimchi. Just wanted to try something new as I like to experiment and it came out so well I’d definitely do it again.
I very much like this one and think you will too. Simple to make and even easier to eat.
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Fermentation time: 3-4 weeks
Yield: 6 pints
3 lbs red cabbage
8 ounces diakon radish
2 Tbsp salt
for spicy paste
2 Tbsp fresh ginger
1 Tbsp fresh turmeric (or 1 tsp turmeric powder)
1/4 cup red pepper flakes
2 medium cloves garlic
1/3 medium onion
- Prepare the cabbage and daikon
Lightly wash the cabbage or peel off the outer leaves if they look a little distressed If you don’t remove any leaves, clean the outside of the cabbage gently. Slice the cabbage into strips approx 1/4″ wide. (the size isn’t that important, as it’s more of an aesthetic decision that anything else). Gently wash the daikon and cut it into strips about 1/4″ x 1/8″ x 1 1/2″. Again, the exact size is more of an aesthetic choice.
- Toss with salt
Place the cabbage and daikon in a large bowl and toss with the salt. If the quantity of you cabbage and daikon which you use is different, the salt ratio is approximately 1 Tbsp salt for each 1 1/2 lbs of veggies. See Measuring and Using Salt in Fermentations. Let it sit for an hour or so and toss a few times.
- Prepare the spice paste
Take the ginger, turmeric, garlic, red pepper flakes and onion and mince and combine. I find mixing pastes such as this are easier In a food processor (I use a Cuisinart Food Processor), but good old fashions knife and cutting board works just fine.
- Add in spices
Once the cabbae and daikon have sat with the tossed salt for an hour or so, combine with the spice paste. Mix well to distribute evenly.
- Place everything in fermenting vessel
Take all ingredients from the bowl including the liquid which may be pooling at the bottom and place in your fermentation vessel. If you’re looking for one, I personally use this one which comes from Poland, but this fermentation vessel should work fine. For a lower cost option, I’ve also used 1 gallon Anchor Hocking cookie jars.
Compress the ingredients in the vessel by pressing down with your fist. Your goal is to have the liquid rise to more than cover the ingredients. Place a weight on top of the ingredients. If you use a fermentation crock, then it should come with it’s own weights. If you use the cookie jar approach, you can take a large bottle filled with water and use it as a weight or fill a plastic bag with water (be sure it doesn’t leak first).If the liquid doesn’t yet rise up sufficiently to cover the vegetables, don’t fret just yet. Just give it some extra time, perhaps up to 8 hours or overnight. Compress again. If the liquid still doesn’t cover it add some water and mix it all up good so the already dissolved salt is well distributed. The more fresh your ingredients are, the more liquid will nautirally leach from the veggies.
The point of covering it is to keep germs and molds from entering your ferment, while still allowing the ferment to breathe. You don’t ever want to cover a ferment tightly until you jar it up and put it in the fridge.
- Wait impatiently
Leave it to ferment for about 3-4 weeks. Other kimchis can take less time to ferment, but the longer ferment is important when working with fresh garlic, ginger, turmeric and onion. If you taste it occasionally through the fermentation period, you’ll see how the intensity of those spices settles down over time. The tartness from the cabbage can develop over time too which helps make the overall flavor more complex and appealing. Be cautious to always use clean hands and limit the amount of time the lid is off during your tasting forays as you don’t want to introduce mold spores or other microorganisms.
- Jar it up
This helps to significantly slow the fermentation.
This ferment is nice served as a simple side dish with asian or rice dishes. Next time you go to your refrigerator with the munchies, take a fork with you and pop open a jar and nibble away while you’re trying to figure out what else you might want to eat.
As I often do, I suggest making a lot and then giving it away by the jar. I made a double batch of this which made some of my friends happy. These little bacteria give so much to our fermentations, it’s only fitting that we do the same for our loved ones!