Introduction to … Kimchi

Kimchi, the asian brother of our Sauerkraut is making more and more an appearance into our kitchens and restaurants. It can be quite spicy, needs to have a sour vibe and has beautiful colours. It’s one of the most important side dishes in Korea and is served with every meal. Making your first kimchi is adopting this wonderfully flavoured ferment into your life.

The program of this first kimchi workshop at Fermenthings is as follow:

We will be preparing four ferments:

THE CLASSIC: Baechu Kimchi: Chinese Leaf Kimchi
THE FRESH ONE: Tanggun Kimchi: Carotte Kimchi
THE EUROPEAN VARIATION: Courgette Carpacchio Kimchi
THE INSTANT ONE: Oi-Sobagi Kimchi: Stuffed Cucumber Kimchi

At the same time we will be cooking with and tasting some more kimchi:

Kimchi Jeon: Pancakes with Kimchi (2 month old)
Kimchi Mandu: Kimchi Dumplings
Red Cabbage Kimchi (3 months old)
Courgette carpacchio Kimchi (3 weeks old)

The basics

The key for any good Kimchi is the paste you rub your vegetables (or even fruits) with. It’s not as scientific as a lacto fermentation and there is much more own taste and likeness but it is a rewarding fermentation full of subtilities and with a broad range of variation. The kimchi paste we prepare at this workshop has the following ingredients (for a 2kg kimchi ferment):

80g mixture Korean chilli powder and dried chilli flakes
120g of fine chopped leek
2 gloves of minced garlic
20g of grated ginger
1 shot of fish sauce (or pickle juice)
1 tablespoon of salt (seasalt, as pure as possible)
1 tablespoon of sugar (unrefined)

Mix it all together until you can make little balls out of the paste, it has to make a squichy sound and feel quite compact. Note: there is no perfect kimchi paste, it is the one you like that will be the perfect one. See this as the basic that works, add other ingredients, or change some of the proportion. I like that mine has that smell of grated ginger coming through at the end. I don’t make it to spicy, but I add chopped yellow or red peppers in it if I want to give it a certain punch.

Now you are ready to make the different Kimchis!

Baechu Kimchi

Baechu kimchi is the most common of all kimchi varieties and the key component that is always found in Korean fridges – Kimchi: Essential Recipes from the Korean Kitchen

When preparing most of the cabbage kimchis, it is important to first salt the cabbage for 24h. With a Chinese leaf it is reasonable to go for around 200g of salt for a batch of 2 kg. You pour the salt between the layers (not too meticulously) and pour over water so the Chinese leaf is covered, leave it for 24h at room temperature. When ready you clean it with cold water and rinse it multiple times. When you think you are ready you can taste a leave. The aim is to get something just a little bit too salty. If it taste just right, it means that you under salt it. Adjust by putting a bit more salt in the kimchi paste.

Now it’s time for the fun stuff, get a bit of the paste in your hand and start covering every leaf  with the paste, try to get some kimchi in every corner of the Chinese leaf and start packing them up into your container. Stack then tightly together till you have the juice covering the top leaf. Seal it and let it ferment for a couple of weeks

Note Summer 2018: with the high humidity and temperatures of the moment, the kimchi could already be active and ready after a couple of days, don’t over ferment, and put in the fridge after a couple of days!

Tanggun Kimchi

A carrot Kimchi, that can also be eaten without leaving them to ferment. Use halve of the amount of kimchi paste as for a Chinese leaf. For a stronger fermentation effect: Peel and shred the carrots add salt and cover with water, leave it for 10 hours and check the seasoning as said before.

When well seasoned, you just add the kimchi paste and mix thoroughly. Let it ferment for a couple of days and put it in the fridge, it will hold at least a month in the fridge

Courgette Carpaccio Kimchi

This one was an own experiment turned right. At the moment there is an overproduction of small courgette and at the end of markets they throw them away. We took a couple of kg of those left overs and made a sliced courgette kimchi. Take a slicer and put it on a 3mm thickness, slice your courgette and mix it up with the kimchi paste (same amounts as for the Chinese leaf) Let it rest a bit so the juices get flowing. Now start stacking them up as a lasagne and put them to ferment for a week under a thick layer of kimchi juice. This kimchi gets mooch quit fast, so if you want a more crunchy texture put it as fast as possible in the fridge. You will not have that sour taste of classical kimchi but will have a nice mise en bouche that taste fresh and spicy.

Oi-Sobagi Kimchi

This one is for all you umami lovers. These stuffed cucumber kimchi are the fastest way to get somebody interested into kimchi. You simply wash the cucumbers and discard the ends. Get 4 fine cuts into the kimchi and put salt in it. Let it rest for about an hour so the salt can get some of the excess water of the cucumber. Wash the salt away and cut it in 3cm pieces. Use the cuts to put some kimchi paste in between, let that paste rest inside the cuts and enjoy after 30 minutes some wonderful earthy cucumber kimchi with a tangy end.

This picture is a variant i tried once, mixing a carrot and cucumber kimchi, stays good for a day or two, but it’s mostly instant snack!

Kimchi Mandu

Kimchi dumplings are a great way to start using this wonderful ferment in different ways. By putting it in the dumpling mixture, you will get a sour and crunchy texture. Remember to never put too much filling and to squeeze out the liquid from the kimchi so that the filling doesn’t get too watery. You can make a big batch and freeze some or also fried them until crispy like gyoza’s

For 20 kimchi mandu’s

1 pack of Dumpling paste (chinese supermarket)
200 gr of grounded porc/beef  (with quite a lot of fat)
15gr of grated ginger
40gr of chopped onions
80gr of chinese leaf kimchi with the liquid squeezed out
salt and pepper

Dipping sauce:
3 tablespoons of Japanese or Korean soy sauce
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
1 dash of cider vinegar
1 coffespoon of Mirin

Kimchi Jeon

Finally we have a Korean snack classic: pancakes filled with kimchi. It’s easy and quick to make, it goes with most dishes and it can be varied infinitely. You can put some squid in it, or make a tortilla kimchi. It’s the idea to use the juices and kimchi leaves into a paste.

For a 2-4 person serving

275gr of chinese leaf kimchi
90gr of chopped leek
225gr op plain flour
2 eggs
1 tablespoon of sesame oil

Dipping sauce
4 tablespoons of Japanese or Korean soy sauce
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
1 dash of cider vinegar
Finely shredded spring onions

Hobak Kimchi – Squash/Butternut squash Kimchi
One comment beforehand: as the hard squash soaks up salt differently as cucumber or Chinese leaf, you have to check the seasoning carefully!
If you cannot get hold of muscat squash or butternut squash you can try a standard Halloween pumpkin.
Now let’s dive into the recipe:
For a jar of approx. 5L, you will need:
– approx. 1.5kg muscat squash or butternut squash
– 480g coarse sea salt
Kimchi paste:
– (if you have them on hand) the outer green leaves from 1 head of Chinese leaf
– 4 tbsp gochugaru, Korean chili powder
– 80g finely chopped leek
– 60g minced garlic
– 60g finely grated ginger
– 100mL fish sauce or pickles juice
– 2 tbsp salt
– & tbsp granulated sugar or honey
1. Peel and cut the squash into small cubes.
Mix with the salt and leave to staand for minimum 10 hours at room temperature.
2. Check the seasoning: taste some butternut squash cubes to see if the right amount of salt has been added.
If the taste level is right for you, this means you will have to add 2 tbsp of salt in the kimchi paste just as indicated in the ingredients list.
If it is very salty the squash needs rising thoroughly.
So rinse in cold water at least two times. Then taste your vegetables to decode whether or not it needs some more rinsing according to the salt level you taste.
3.Shred the Chinese leaf. Mix all the ingredients together for the Kimchi paste.
4. Mix the squash and kimchi paste together, making sure that each piece is covered in the marinade. Place in the jar with a tight-fitting lid.
5. Leave to stand for 24 hours at room temperature. Then transfer to the fridge. The Kimchi is ready to eat in about 1 week and will keep fresh for at least 3 weeks.
Kimchi Jeon – Kimchi Pancakes
With this recipe you have a staple. Then you can vary and add for instance squid or mushrooms, or any other ingredients you might have on hand.
For 2 to 4 pancakes:
– 225g shredded Chinese leaf Kimchi
– 90g finely chopped leek
– 225g plain flour
– 1 egg
– 1 tbsp sesame oil
– cooking oil for frying
Dipping sauce:
– 4 tbsp Korean or Japanese soy sauce
– 1 dash distilled/apple cider vinegar
– 1/2 tbsp sesame oil
– 1 tbsp finely shredded spring onion
1. Mix all the ingredients to form a thick pancake batter.
2. Fry in oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
Shape the batter into small pancakes when frying. Or go ahead and make a huge pancake just as an omelette.
Cook for at least a couple of minutes on both sides until the pancakes are golden brown.
3. Mix together all the ingredients for the dipping sauce and serve together with the pancakes.

Here you go, with these recipes you have the basics of Kimchi. If you have any more questions, just send us an email to
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