I've never been to Korea, it is still on the travel bucket list, but I did used to live in New Malden which boasts the largest population of Koreans outside of their native country. This fact brings the bonus of a plethora of Korean eateries as well as supermarkets in which you can find a vast array of imported foodstuffs.
At the counter of these shops would be a large chiller unit full of tubs with many varieties of kimchi, some of which I regrettably never got to try. For me, once I tried my first kimchi I found it hard to order anything else. Much like a favourite dish on a restaurant menu that you keep going back to when you know you should try something else instead. Comfort and familiarity I guess. Baechu kimchi is the most common of all kimchi varieties and happily also one of the easiest to make.
Ingredients - makes a large jar, approx 5 litres
2kg Chinese leaf
200g sea salt
For the Kimchi Paste
150g gochugaru, Korean chilli powder
300g finely chopped leek
3 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp finely grated ginger
200g fresh daikon (mooli), shredded
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 - 2 tbsp salt
1 tbsp granulated sugar
Chop the Chinese leaf and place in a large bowl. Salt the Chinese leaf layer by layer but not too meticulously.
Pour in enough water that the Chinese leaf is covered and place a plate on top with a weight on top, the leaf should be completely submerged. Leave to stand at room temperature for 24 hours.
Drain the water and taste the Chinese leaf, taste a piece from the middle of the bowl if you can. (Good kimchi contains just the right amount of salt, but to get it correct means to taste it after the 24 hours. If it tastes too salty rinse the leaves until it tastes just slightly too salty. If the kimchi tastes just a little bit salty it is probably under salted. You can adjust the amount of salt that goes into the paste to correct it). Rinse the kimchi multiple times in cold water and squeeze the liquid out of the leaves.
In a separate bowl mix together all of the kimchi paste ingredients. Mix the Chinese leaf and kimchi paste thoroughly. Lift and pat some of the paste between the leaves.
Place the leaves into a suitably sized container, packing fairly tightly but don't force the leaves in. Place the lid on and leave to stand at room temperature for a further 24 hours. Transfer to the fridge. The kimchi will be ready to eat after 7 - 10 days and will last for up to 2 months.
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