Baechu kimchi is the most common of all kimchi varieties and the key component that is always found in Korean fridges. When you just say ‘kimchi’ this is the type you refer to. At Arirang batches of kimchi are prepared using twenty kilograms of Chinese leaf every other day. Korean families often have their own recipe, which of course is the best of them all. You can also halve the amounts for a smaller batch.
The art of tasting
A good kimchi contains the right amount of salt, but to get it right it’s important to taste the vegetable after salting. If it’s very salty the vegetable needs rinsing thoroughly. Rinse multiple times until it tastes just slightly too salty. On the contrary, if the salt level tastes just right it’s probably under-salted. Adjust by either decreasing or increasing the amount of salt going into the kimchi paste.
Ingredients and materials:
- One large jar, approx. 5 liters (roughly 1-1/2 gallons)
- 2 kg Chinese leaf (4-1/2 pounds Napa cabbage)
- 200 g sea salt (2/3 cup)
- 150 g gochugaru, Korean chili powder (1-1/2 cups)
- 300 g finely chopped leek (about 2 medium leeks)
- 3 tbsp minced garlic
- 2 tbsp finely grated ginger
- 200 g fresh daikon (mooli), shredded (about 1-3/4 cups)
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 1–2 tbsp salt
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
1. Cut the Chinese leaf (Napa Cabbage) in half and place the halves, cut-side up, in a large bowl. Salt the Chinese leaf layer by layer (not too meticulously).
2. Pour over water so that the Chinese leaf is covered and place a plate with a weight on top, or use a kimchi stone, so that the vegetable is completely submerged. Leave to stand for 24 hours at room temperature.
3. Drain the water and taste a bit of the Chinese leaf, preferably somewhere from the middle. Rinse the kimchi multiple times in cold water and carefully squeeze the liquid out of the leaves.
4. Mix together all the ingredients for the kimchi paste.
5.Mix the Chinese leaf and kimchi paste thoroughly. Lift and pat some paste in between the leaves.
6. Roll the Chinese leaf halves together, and place them together tightly but without too much force, with the cut-side facing up, in a jar or other container with a tight fitting lid. Leave to stand at room temperature for 24 hours. Transfer to the fridge. The kimchi is ready after 7−10 days and will last for at least 2 months. Slice the Chinese leaf when serving.Reprinted with permission from Kimchi: Essential Recipes of the Korean Kitchen by Byung-Hi Lim and Byung-Soon Lim, published by Pavilion Books.