Kimchee

Kimchee, a pickle of sour-tasting fermented Chinese cabbage and garlic, is a Korean national institution, served with every and any meal from breakfast to dinner. It is produced there in huge amounts in wooden tubs, but it works well on a smaller scale.

Ingredients

  • 1 Chinese cabbage
  • 450 g/ 1 lb daikon (white radish)
  • 3 tbsp salt
  • 7.5-cm / 3-inch piece of root ginger
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 6 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 2 tsp caster sugar

Method

Cut the Chinese cabbage in half lengthwise and then cut the halves across into 5-cm / 2-inch sections. Peel the daikon, cut it in half lengthwise, then cut the halves across into 5-mm / ¼-inch thick slices. Put into a bowl.

Dissolve the salt in 1.75 litres/ 3 pints cold water and pour this over the vegetables. Cover the top with a cloth and leave at room temperature overnight.

Finely chop the ginger and garlic. Put in a large bowl with the sliced spring onions, chilli flakes and caster sugar, mixing together with a spoon. Remove the soaking vegetables from the brine with tongs or a slotted spoon and add to the ginger-and-garlic mixture. Don’t throw away the brine!

Pack the vegetables into a 2.25-litre/ 2-quart jar, leaving a 3-cm / 1 ¼-inch space at the top. Pour over enough reserved brine to cover. Don’t put on the lid, but cover with a cloth the pickle needs air to ferment.

Leave at room temperature for 3 days, then taste a piece. If it is sour enough to your taste then it is ready, but the precise time will depend on the ambient temperature. The warmer it is, the quicker it works. If it is cool, then it may take as long as 7 days.

To serve 4, remove about a cupful and put it in a bowl on the table for people to help themselves. In Korea, spoonfuls of the pickling liquid are added to soups.

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