Candy & Halmoni’s Authentic Spicy Kimchee
My friend, Candy, is a devoted home-schooling Mom, wife, caretaker of family pets, and a very mindful eater. Her cupboard is stocked with clean beautiful organic foods. On her counter sits a lovely little basket of farm fresh eggs, which I think nicely and simply represent Candy’s way of living. These pretty brown eggs of various sizes are clean, fresh, natural, and wholesome. Candy can tell you which of her happy free-range chickens laid each egg. She values each egg, each chicken, and no detail is ignored. Everything, human or animal, is well nourished in this home. Everything that goes into the food that is lovingly prepared in this house is designed to help its diners grow and thrive. Her gorgeous children are a walking testimony to this!
Candy’s grandmother, Halmoni, grew up in Korea and also thrived on real, organic, healthful foods. She lovingly passed along her Kimchee method to Candy. And it is sooooo delicious!
There are 300 types of Kimchee (Kimchi). Some are very time and labor intensive. Halmoni’s recipe is authentic healthful flavorful Kimchee made simply and beautifully. I love it! If you are already a Kimchee eater, you will love it. If you are new to Kimchee, you will still love it. And no fear! You can make this. Candy shows us step by step.
There is good reason that Koreans love it. The average Korean eats about 40 lbs of Kimchee per year! This spicy fermented cabbage not only brings flavor and texture to so many dishes, but it also brings health with its antioxidants and probiotics. Kimchee is a superfood!
Historically kimchee was packed into large pots and buried underground. Over the long, harsh winter months, kimchee was left to ferment in the cold ground. Kimchee provided a necessary source for nutrients through the winter and became a staple food. It became Korea’s signature dish.
Today, we are using little jars and a refrigerator, but the process is pretty much the same.
Candy sticks very closely to her Halmoni’s method, but she does change up the ingredients just a bit for her family’s taste.
Candy prepares her Chinese cabbage by washing it and discarding any wilted or discolored parts. Then it is cut into 11/2 inch long pieces and placed into a container (not metal) with the salt and covered with warm water.
The container is set aside to soak until the cabbage is thoroughly wilted.
This will take at least four hours. Set it aside, forget about it. Read a book, take a nap, peruse all the recipes on foodhighs.com… whatever you like. You can soak your cabbage the night before, if you like.
(I realize this timer only goes up to one hour. You will have to set it four times. ) 🙂
After the cabbage is wilted, fill the tub with water, rinse the salted cabbage well, and drain. The idea is to remove salt. Otherwise you will end up with very salty kimchee.
Rinse and repeat as many times as needed to remove salt. Candy did this at least three times. Taste between rinses. When you like the salt level, you are good to go.
With vegetables gathered and spices measured, we are ready to begin layering flavors. You can increase or decrease the spice level, if you like.
Candy’s family likes more green onion than her grandmother. You can add as much or as little as you like.
Daikon radish is readily available in Asian markets, and specialty grocery stores. You may even find it in your corner grocery store. Availability is much better than it used to be.
You can either grate or chop your daikon radish. Today, Candy grates half and chops half into little half-lengthened matchsticks to get textural variety.
As you chop, dice, and grate, add all of your ingredients (except cabbage) to a large mixing bowl.
Spice! At this point, the aromas are becoming so inviting in Candy’s kitchen. 🙂
Grating fresh ginger.
Ingredients are mixed well…
… then added to the bin to be thoroughly combined with the prepared cabbage.
At this point, I could already eat a whole bowl of this!
With all those flavors combined, Candy lines up clean jars.
This is the most exacting part of the process. One by one, Candy fills jars, pressing cabbage down with the back of a spoon until the jar cannot possible take another piece.
Each jar should have liquid to fill in the any tiny spaces left. You likely have liquid that has developed and collected in the mix. If not, you can add a bit of water just to top it off.
This is a thing of beauty.
A little more pressing just to be sure this jar is really REALLY full.
Each jar is given a lid and set on the counter to ferment. The flavors will marry, and probiotics will develop. It will do all this work for you.
Candy lets these beautiful jars sit for a day (sometimes longer) at room temperature. Then they must be taste-tested. If approved, the are then refrigerate.
Keep the jars out of direct sunlight.
On my visit, I got to enjoy a favorite snack around Candy’s house. Here it is in Candy’s words.
“I sprinkle with Pink Himalayan Salt…
Candy cuts each piece of Nori paper into four pieces. Along with kimchee and pickled ginger, she adds avocado slices.
We thoroughly enjoyed our little snacks, and there were no leftovers. ‘Just sayin’.
I got to take a jar home. Thanks, Candy!
This is from my delicious jar of Candy’s Kimchee after two days fermentation. It is a hit in my house too!
This is the original recipe that Halmoni brought with her from Korea.
Ingredients (Approximate measurements)
- 1 medium Chinese cabbage
- 3/4 cup salt in a quart of cold water
- 1 small white turnip (grate coarsely, saving liquid)(this is an optional ingredient)
- 2 chopped green onions, including tops
- 1-2 carrots cut in matchstick-size strips (this is an optional ingredient)
- 3 cloves of minced garlic
- 1 tsp sugar
- 3 Tbs red pepper (flakes)
Wash Chinese cabbage and discard any wilted or discolored parts. Cut into 11/2 inch long pieces. Put into crock or glass container (not metal) with the quart of salt water and soak until the cabbage is thoroughly wilted (overnight is usually long enough). Wash well and drain. Mix the other vegetables and flavorings. Place in glass jars, pack tightly and add water (I never need to add water) as needed to cover the cabbage. Put a lid on the jar. Let it sit for a day (sometimes longer, I always taste it) at room temperature–keep it out of the sun–then refrigerate.
This is Candy’s recipe, modified for her family’s needs and tastebuds.
Ingredients (Approximate measurements)
- 1 large Napa cabbage
- 1 C salt
- 2 bunches green onions (about 10-12),chopped, including tops
- 1 small daikon radish (grated or chopped into matchsticks)
- 1 inch piece ginger, grated
- 3 T minced garlic
- 2 t sugar
- 6 T red pepper (flakes)
Wash Chinese cabbage and discard any wilted or discolored parts. Cut into 11/2 inch long pieces. Put into crock or glass container (not metal) with the salt and cover with warm water. Soak until the cabbage is thoroughly wilted (at least 4 hours). Wash well and drain. Mix the other vegetables and flavorings in a separate container then mix thoroughly with cabbage. Place cabbage mixture in glass jars, pack tightly and add water (I never need to add water) as needed to cover the cabbage. Put a lid on the jar. Let it sit for a day (sometimes longer, I always taste it) at room temperature, then refrigerate. Keep out of direct sunlight.