Homemade Vegan Kimchi
A Korean meal isn't complete without some Kimchi!
In high school, some of my closest friends were Korean. I learned a lot of Korean words and sentences from them, alongside some bits about the culture. They introduced me to the world of K-pop, Korean dramas, and to the world of some of the most delicious food I've ever tried.
Kimchi is a traditional Korean side dish made from fermented cabbage and has a unique slightly sour, slightly vinegary, slightly spicy, and umami taste. Honestly, there isn't anything that tastes like it, and to say I'm obsessed is a bit of an understatement.
In my experience, it can be rather expensive to purchase store-bought kimchi, so I much prefer to make it myself, varying the veggies added in each time. Below is our take on the delicious side dish - we hope you enjoy it!
Homemade Vegan Kimchi
▸ ▹ Vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free
Yield: approx. 4 cups Prep Time: 30 min Soaking time: 2 hrs Total Time: 2.5 hrs (does not include fermentation time)
1 napa cabbage, cut into 1 inch (2 cm), bite-sized pieces
¼ cup (55 g) coarse sea salt (must be iodine free)*
½ cup (120 mL) cold water
6 garlic cloves
¼ cup (25 g) gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes/powder)
2 Tbsp (30 mL) sodium-reduced soy sauce (use tamari if GF)
½ Tbsp (3 g) fresh ginger, grated
2 tsp (10 mL) maple syrup
4 green onions, sliced lengthwise, and cut into 1 inch (2 cm) strips
To a large bowl, add the cabbage and sea salt. Massage the salted cabbage for a few minutes; the salt helps to draw water out of the cabbage and softens it. Then pour over the water and let the cabbage rest on the counter for about 2 hours; you'll notice the cabbage will continue to shrink in volume in that time.
In the meantime, to a food processor, add garlic, gochugaru, soy sauce, shallot, ginger and maple syrup. Blend until you reach a smooth consistency.
After the cabbage has rested, run it under cold water to wash the salt off, and then squeeze out any excess water with your hands. Transfer the drained cabbage back to the large bowl.
Add the blended chili mixture to the cabbage, along with the green onions, and give it a mix until everything is evenly coated.
To a mason jar or air-tight container, add the cabbage and press it down firmly with a spoon. We want the cabbage to be submerged below a thin layer of the brine/liquid. Try to not fill the jar completely to the top, as the kimchi needs some "breathing room" for the gas and bubbles that form. Close tightly with a lid.
Leave the kimchi on the counter overnight, away from direct sunlight or any heat sources. The next day, open the lid, which will allow some trapped gas to escape. Give it a taste test; the kimchi should taste mildly sour. If you like more sour-tasting and tangy kimchi, leave it to sit on the counter for an additional 1 - 2 days. If you choose to let it sit longer, leave the lid open this time to allow the gasses to escape, but cover the lid with a cheese cloth to prevent anything from getting inside. I personally let it ferment on the counter for one day in the summer, or 2 days in the winter.
Then close the lid of the jar, and place the kimchi in the fridge for 1 - 2 weeks. Every 3 - 4 days, open the lid to allow the trapped gasses to escape, and push down the mixture to submerge it under the liquid when necessary. The longer you let it sit, the more complex and delicious the flavours as the kimchi continues to slowly ferment in the fridge. Enjoy!
* The salt must be iodine-free, otherwise the salt may inhibit the fermentation process.
Variations: add more veggies to the mix, such as daikon radish or thinly sliced carrots.
Storage: the kimchi can be stored in a mason jar or air-tight container in the fridge for up to 3 months. Make sure to use clean utensils each time you remove some of the kimchi from the jar, to keep it lasting longer.
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