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Vegetarian Kimchi

Kimchi is traditionally made by families during late autumn to last them throughout the year, and stored in pots underground. Although Kimchi is easily found in Asian food stores, it's not usually vegetarian. So here's our recipe for a vegetarian kimchi, which you can easily make at home in a large Kilner jar.

Kimchi is usually made with napa cabbage or Chinese leaf cabbage, but other vegetables such as kale, turnips, radishes and cucumbers can be used. As with many fermented foods, it is rich in many essential vitamins and minerals, as well as lactic acid bacteria, making kimchi a very beneficial nutritious addition to your diet.

For more inspiration, check out our upcoming Fermentation Courses, or check out this insightful recap from our Fermentation Course with Lucie Cousins.

Vegetarian Kimchi

Makes 1 large Kilner jar (1 litre)

  • 1 large napa cabbage or Chinese leaf
  • 3 tbsp fine sea salt
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 spring onions
  • 4 tbsp gochugaru chilli flakes

For the paste mix:

  • 1/2 onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 5cm piece ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tsp sugar
  1. Chop the cabbage into large 3cm squares, discarding the stem and core. Place into a large glass or ceramic mixing bowl, and massage in the salt, ensuring it is evenly distributed throughout the pieces. Set aside for 1 hour.
  2. Meanwhile, blend the paste ingredients in a food processor until smooth.
  3. Tip the cabbage into a colander and rinse thoroughly. Drain well and allow to dry a little. It will feel quite limp and soft. Place back into the mixing bowl and add the onion, spring onion and gochugaru. Add the paste mix and, using clean hands, massage through the vegetables to combine thoroughly.
  4. Pack the vegetable mix into a sterilised jar, pushing down well to compact it and avoid air pockets. Leave several centimetres from the top of the jar to allow for expansion during the fermentation process.
  5. Swirl a couple of tablespoons of water around the mixing bowl to collect any paste remaining, and pour into the almost full jar. Seal the top and place in a cool area of your kitchen out of direct sunlight.
  6. Check the jar daily for 3 days, pushing the mix down to release any air pockets and to allow the accumulated liquid to come to the surface. The vegetables need to be submerged beneath the liquid. Seal the lid to cover each day, then refrigerate after 3 days, at which point the kimchi should smell sour but not unpleasant. Keep the kimchi in the fridge, and taste after a couple of days, using once you are satisfied with the flavour development. You may find the flavour needs a couple of weeks to develop enough to your liking. Once fully fermented, the kimchi will keep for up to 6 months (possibly longer) in the fridge.

Delicious food photography by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures.

For more hands on experience with kimchi and other fermented foods, check out our upcoming Fermentation Courses!

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