Not brewed, but fermented so it totally counts! My last batch of kimchi just ran out and the weather today is drippy and cold and generally crap, which is pretty much perfect weather for putting things in buckets to ferment.
I wish I could say that I got this recipe from my Korean grandmother. Nana was Swedish. Doesn’t matter! I spent a bit over a year in South Korea and didn’t quite manage to eat all the kimchi but I TRIED–oh how I tried. This recipe is a hybrid of several different ones I found once I came back to the States and messed with until it tasted almost as good as the stuff I remember at the lunch counter in the basement of the building I worked in. I don’t know if they made it in-house or what, but it was always super-garlicky and really sour: apparently I like my kimchi a lot sourer than most. Conventional wisdom says that kimchi the way I like it is past its prime and should be used up in soup and fried dishes but I say PFFFF. You can eat it however you want at any stage of fermentation.
When I’m a Korean grandmother I’m going to make sure my granddaughters make it EXACTLY LIKE THIS.
Here’s how it goes:
1 medium-sized head napa cabbage, cut into quarters lengthwise then sliced into 1-inch segments
1 c sea salt
1 lb daikon/mu (radish), grated. If you can get green radish, USE THAT. Its peppery, herbal flavor really makes the kimchi perfect.
2 or 3 carrots, grated
1 bunch green onions, cut into 1-inch segments
2 heads worth of peeled garlic cloves, chopped (more, if you want. Maybe you are a garlic-based organism too.)
1 2-inch ginger root, grated
1/2 cup Korean red pepper flakes
1/4 c shrimp paste or fish sauce
Dissolve the salt in 1/2 gallon of water and drop the cabbage in. Combine all other ingredients (seasoning mix). Go do something else for 3-4 hours and then come back and drain the cabbage. Rinse it well and press it to get as much water out as you can. Combine the cabbage and the seasoning mix, stir it all up very well, and pop it all into a jar or jars–LEAVE THE LIDS LOOSE. You know what fermentation does in a closed container. I have had fizzy kimchi and you probably don’t want that. Probably.
Let it sit out on your counter for 2-4 days or so, stirring daily, until it tastes sour enough for you. Then you can tighten the lid and put it in the fridge. It’ll get more sour and make more juice (which is perfect for soup broth), but slowly.
Yeast is not the primary thing that’s working on the kimchi, but it’s there. Mostly it’s a nice stew of lactobacilluses and acetobacter chugging away to lower the pH in the jar and I kind of love that it’s those same beasties I’m usually trying to keep away from my beer. I wish it was just that simple–give them something else to work on.
Oh well, that’s microflora for you. Now GET TO WORK, MICROFLORA! I made this nice pot of fermentables for you, so no lollygagging.