Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Homemade Kim Chee

Over a year ago I experimented and made my very first batch of homemade kim chee. Kim chee is a traditional fermented Korean main dish made of vegetables with a variety of seasonings which can taste spicy and a little sour.  Several types of vegtables can be used for kim chee such as Won Bok (Chinese cabbage or Napa cabbage), cucumbers, or daikon (Japanese radish).

I decided to try my hand in making my own kim chee since it's pretty expensive for a small jar that can be eaten in one dinner sitting. I found two recipes online that seemed easy enough to follow and I ended up changing a few things through trial and error. I found two recipes online at umamitopia.com and culinonicles.blogspot.com that I used to reference, but I pretty much used the recipe off of umamitopia instead.

I followed the directions from umamitopia in the first step of brining the cabbage. They had a tsukemono maker to help wilt down the cabbage leaves which is something that I do not have. I have the option of purchasing one from my local Asian grocer but I wasn't about to spend $50+ for such a small item. So I improvised and used a heavy plate to cover the cabbage in a bowl and placed two-5 lbs exercise weights to help weigh it down.

My first batch of kim chee turned out good but I added too much chili powder and it was REALLY spicy for my taste, but overall it turned out pretty good. My second batch turned out even better and with just the right amount of heat. My brother (the chef) even compared it to the Kohala kim chee brand from back home in Hawaii. I've tweaked a few things here and there depending how large of a batch I'm making. The jars I use are ones with a flip open lid that I got from Ikea, but you most certainly can use those Kerr or Ball canning jars.

Here is the recipe with the tweaks that I made for myself.


1 medium sized Napa cabbage
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. kosher salt (I just used regular salt)
2 tbsp. dried chili powder
3 tbsp. kim chee base
2 tbsp. fish sauce
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup shredded daikon
1 cup chopped green onions

  1. Cut the cabbage in half and cut out the core. Then cut each half in 4 equal sections. Wash the cabbage leave and spin out water in a salad spinner if you have one. If not, just shake out water using a colander.
  2. Place cabbage leaves into the largest bowl that you have.  Add the sugar and salt, mix well without breaking cabbage leaves. Let sit for about 1 hours so the leaves can wilt a bit. 
  3. After it has wilted a little place into large bowl, lay a large but small enough plate to completely cover the cabbage, then place a heavy object onto plate to help weigh it down. In my case they were the two-5 lb. weights. 
  4. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight until you see the water covering the cabbage. When the cabbage is completely covered in water it is ready.
  5. Squeeze out water form the cabbage and place into a bowl. Add the carrots, daikon, and green onion.
  6. In a separate bowl add the chili powder, kim chee base, fish sauce, and garlic. Mix well.
  7. Add the sauce to the vegetables. During this time I use food service gloves to mix all the ingredients by hand. Otherwise a wooden spoon will suffice. If your ingredients look a little dry, add more kim chee base by the tablespoon until they look wet enough.
  8. Once thoroughly mixed place kim chee into glass jars or container. Let it sit at room temperature for 2-3 days. Then refrigerate.