Napa Cabbage Kimchi (Tongbaechu-kimchi 통배추김치)

I've been following Maangchi cooking channel since a year back. She has a lot of good Korean food recipes that are really easy to follow. I've been watching Maangchi so many times that I felt like I've known her personally. Maybe it is because she really connects with her viewers thru the way she speaks. She is very friendly and fun, humble and generous in sharing her secrets and knowledge about Korean foods. For Korean food recipes, Maangchi is definitely the one I refer to (first)!

Last week, I make my first homemade kimchi. It may sounds like a lot of works but once you are into it, you wouldn't think so. I had so much fun making these kimchi!

Supposed the recipe calls for Saeujeot (fermented salted shrimp) but since I couldn't find it, I omitted this in my kimchi. And because my hubby love to eat leeks, I've added a cup of chopped leeks into my kimchi.

Making kimchi has many levels of excitement, I would say. Each time i turn the cabbages and see that it has soften, it excites me. And when the aroma from the combined ingredients comes together, it excites me as well. At every stage, each progress, I felt an adrenaline rush and it makes me more energetic.

Here are my cabbages. This is at the initial stage of salting. As you let it sits, it will release more water and the cabbage will soften.

And here you can see, the leaves are no longer looking as fresh as before. This is at the last stage of salting and the cabbages are ready for rinsing.

After few times rinsing, drain the cabbages well. You would want just the pure juice releases from the cabbages during the fermentation.

This is where I felt really excited. The smell from this paste is so aromatic that I couldn't resist to try some of the paste. It was already so tasty by its own even at this stage.

Here are all my kimchi, fitted into 3 containers. If you have an onggi, that would be a better choice to store these kimchi. But if you don't have, you can just use BPA free plastic container or glass container.

I had some of the freshly made kimchi immediately. As Maangchi said, fresh kimchi is yummy too! It is crunchy and spicy, very different from the fermented ones as it doesn't have the sour taste. And you can only get to enjoy these fresh kimchi if it's homemade.

(Recipe adapted from Maangchi)

Prep Time  : 135 mins
Cook Time : NIL
Total Time : 2 hours 15 mins
Makes       : about 3.6kg of Kimchi

For salting cabbage:
2.6kg napa cabbage (3 to 4 heads of medium napa cabbage)
1/2 cup Kosher salt

For making porridge:
2 cups water
2 tbsp glutinous rice flour
2 tbsp brown sugar (or white sugar)

2 cups radish matchsticks
1 cup carrot matchsticks
1 cup chopped green onions
1 cup chopped chives
1 cup chopped leek

Seasonings and spices:
24 cloves garlic (about 1 1/2 bulbs)
2cm ginger
1 medium onion
1/2 cup fish sauce
2 cups hot pepper flakes (gochugaru 고추가루)

Prepare the Cabbages
1. If the cabbage core stick out too much, trim it off. You will want a flat head.

2. To split the cabbage into halves, make a short slit at the base of the cabbage, around 2"-3", and gently pull the halves apart all the way until it splits open. Now you will have 2 pcs of halves.

3. Cut a slit through the core around 2". Do not make too long slit or else the cabbage leaves will fall apart, detaching from the core. You will want the cabbage leaves to be loose but still attached to the core.

4. Fill a large basin with water and give each halves a good dip in it, so that to get them wet for salting.

5. Sprinkle salt in between the leaves by lifting up every leaf. Use more salt on the thicker part of the leaves.

6. Place all the cabbages in a large basin and let it rest for 2 hours. Turn them every 30 mins for thorough salting. You may scoop some of the salty water from the bottom over to the top of the cabbage from time to time.

7. After 2 hours, wash the cabbages 3-4 times under the running water to remove the salt and dirt (if any). As you wash, split the halves into another halves along the slits you've cut previously. Now you will have quarters. Drain them well in a colander/ strainer.

Making the Paste
8. While the cabbages are salting for 2 hours, you can make the paste. In a small pot, combine water and glutinous rice flour. Cook under medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Add the sugar and cook for another 1 minute. Remove from the heat and let it cool completely. This is your porridge.

9. While waiting for the porridge to cool, cut your vegetables into the mentioned sizes. Blend the garlic, ginger and onion into fine paste.

10. In a large mixing bowl, combined the cooled porridge, garlic ginger onion paste, fish sauce and hot pepper flakes. Mix well with a wooden spoon.

11. Add the rest of the vegetables into the paste and mix well until all vegetables are well coated with the paste.

Make Kimchi
12. Spread the kimchi paste on each cabbage leaf. When every leaf in a quarter is done, you can either fold it half or wrap it around itself into a small parcel and place it in container/ jar/ onggi.

13. You may eat these kimchi right away or let it ferment for a 4-5 days first in the refrigerator. As time goes, the kimchi will becomes more sour.

● For my hubby and family, this recipe has just the right amount of saltiness. But as for my SIL, she said that it is not salty enough. So, do adjust the saltiness to your own liking when making the paste.

● As Maangchi mentioned, you can keep this kimchi for almost forever. The longer you keep it, the more sour it becomes. But if your family who loves kimchi like mine, the kimchi will be gone in no time.

Make this recipe? Don't forget to snap a photo of it and tag #msyummyliciousrecipe on social media! I would love to see them! Enjoy my recipe!

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