A Witch’s Brew That’s Good For Your Gut
- Cutting board and knife
- Large bowl
- Gloves (optional but highly recommended)
- Mason Fermenting Kit, or a plate and something to weigh the kimchi down, like another mason jar filled with water
- Clean 1-quart jar with canning lid or plastic lid
- Bowl or plate to place under jar during fermentation
- 1 medium head napa cabbage (about 2 pounds)
- 1/4 cup iodine-free sea salt or kosher salt
- Water, preferably distilled or filtered (this is important!)
- 1 tablespoon grated garlic (5 to 6 cloves)
- 1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 2 tablepoons fish sauce or salted shrimp paste, or 3 tablespoons water
- 1 to 5 tablespoons Korean gochugaru sauce or red pepper flakes (note: the more you add, the spicier it is)
- 8 ounces Korean radish or daikon radish, peeled and cut into matchsticks
- 4 medium scallions, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- Cut the cabbage. Cut the cabbage lengthwise through the stem into quarters. Cut the cores from each piece. Cut each quarter crosswise into 2-inch-wide strips. You will likely need more cabbage than you think, so get the biggest head of Napa Cabbage you can find.
- Salt the cabbage. Place the cabbage in a large mixing bowl (non metal — plastic or glass is best) and sprinkle with the salt. Using your hands, (you don’t need the gloves yet here) massage the salt into the cabbage until it starts to soften a bit. Add enough water to cover the cabbage. Put a plate on top of the cabbage and weigh it down with something heavy, like a jar or can of beans. Let stand for 1 to 2 hours.
- Rinse and drain the cabbage. Rinse the cabbage under cold water 3 times. You know us witches love the number three. Seriously, get as much of the salt out as you can. If you have one of those lovely salad spinners, those work well here, but aren’t necessary. Set aside to drain in a colander for 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, make the spice paste.
- Make the spice paste. Rinse and dry the bowl you used for salting. Add the garlic, ginger, sugar, and fish sauce, shrimp paste, or water and stir into a smooth paste. Stir in the gochugaru sauce, using 1 tablespoon for mild and up to 5 tablespoons for spicy (I like about 3.3 tablespoons – there’s that magic number again); set aside until the cabbage is ready.
- Combine the vegetables and spice paste. This is where you’ll want those gloves. Gently squeeze any remaining water from the cabbage and add it to the spice paste. Add the radish and scallions. Mix thoroughly. Using your hands, gently work the paste into the vegetables until they are thoroughly coated.
- Pack the kimchi into the jar. Put the kimchi into a 1-quart jar. Press down on the kimchi until the brine (the liquid that comes out) rises to cover the vegetables, leaving at least 1 inch of space at the top. Runa uses a muller to get this done, but you can use a smaller jar filled with water of the back of a large spoon. Seal the jar.
- Let it ferment for 1 to 5 days. Place a bowl or plate under the jar to help catch any overflow. Let the jar stand at cool room temperature, out of direct sunlight, for 1 to 5 days. You may see bubbles inside the jar and brine may seep out of the lid. Runa ferments her for the full 5 days because The Viking and she love those probiotics to be very active!
- Check it daily and refrigerate when ready. Check the kimchi once a day, opening the jar and pressing down on the vegetables with a clean muller or spoon to keep them submerged under the brine. (This also releases gases produced during fermentation.) Taste a little at this point, too! When the kimchi tastes ripe enough for your liking, transfer the jar to the refrigerator. You may eat it right away, but it’s best after another week or two.
We keep a jar in the fridge all the time; it works as a nice side dish at lunch to get some veggies in and keep that gut healthy.