Mak Kimchi is a great first kimchi recipe with traditional kimchi flavors but made using a simpler process for preparing and seasoning the cabbage.
This recipe is very forgiving. Feel free to adjust it to match your personal preferences, tasting the results, and then slowly adjusting future batches to your liking.
In a large bowl, mix 6 tablespoons (100 grams) of pickling salt with 8 cups (2 liters) of water. We're aiming for a 5% brine. Stir to dissolve most of the salt.
Now for the magical part. Working with napa cabbage is so much fun. When you cut a head of napa cabbage in half, you cut just an inch or two into the base (just through the section where the white stalks join).
Then, use your hand to gently pull apart the cabbage from that base cut to let the leaves magically unfold.
Now, in the same manner, cut each cabbage half into two pieces.
And, then each cabbage quarter in half to end up with eight sections of cabbage.
Next, cut out the small triangle core and then cut the cabbage section crosswise into 1-2 inch squares.
Prepare your peeled daikon radish by cutting it crosswise into thin slices. Then, either cut small stacks of slices into either matchsticks or 1-inch squares.
Add the prepared cabbage and daikon to your bowl of salt water and mix thoroughly. Place a large plate and some type of heavy object on the plate to hold the cut cabbage under the brine. Leave to soak for 8-12 hours.
After soaking, thoroughly drain and then check the saltiness. See Testing Vegetable Salt Level in Stocking Your Kimchi Pantry: Staples, Fresh Ingredients, Basic Techniques.
In your smallest saucepan, whisk together 1 cup of cold water and 2 tablespoons of sweet rice flour. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Turn burner to medium and continue stirring until the mixture thickens and resembles white glue. I use a spatula at this point to prevent the paste from sticking to the pan and burning.
I cook the paste until my spatula leaves a nice break when drawn through the hot mixture. I find the thicker it is, the better the final seasoning paste will cling to the cabbage.
Let cool before using. If making ahead, transfer to a small container and refrigerate. The porridge will keep for up to 3 days, refrigerated.
Coarsely chop the onion, garlic, and unpeeled ginger and place in the bowl of your food processor. Add the sugar, red pepper powder, rice-flour porridge, fish sauce, and salted shrimp.
Blend until it becomes a smooth paste, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
Slice Korean chives - or green onions - into 1-2 inch pieces. Add to the bowl of cabbage and daikon.
Note: I forgot to include the daikon radish when I was soaking my cabbage, so I added it at this stage. I had on hand watermelon radish, so that is what you see in the picture.
Add the spice mixture to the cabbage.
Put on your kimchi gloves, if desired. I'm a bare hands gal, so I didn't wear gloves but I did have "smelly" seasoned hands for the day. Mix well rubbing the red pepper paste into the leaves
Grab a handful of your beautiful red kimchi and pack into your jar. To cut down on the mess, I hold the jar with one hand and pack the jar using my other hand.
Leave 1-inch (2-3 cm) of headspace for expansion during fermentation. Depending upon the size of cabbage used, you may have to use a second jar. I ended up with 1-quart (liter) jar and 1-pint (500 ml) jar.
Use a damp towel to clean the rim of your jar and then weight down your kimchi with your preferred method. Kimchi is not as prone to surface growth as other ferments, so don't worry if you don't have a weight.
Loosely, to allow gases to escape, screw on a lid. Or, use your airlock lid of choice.
Leave to ferment at room temperature for a minimum of 3 days. Flavors will meld and evolve over time. Test every few days until flavors are to your liking and then move to your fridge to dramatically slow down fermentation.
This recipe developed by Holly Howe of MakeSauerkraut! (https://www.makesauerkraut.com/)