Kimchi paste

Kimchi, the soul food of Korea, is rapidly conquering the rest of the world. With good reason. Packed with good nutrients and unique in taste, this fiery ferment has as many recipes as there are kimchi-lovers. I have tried several ways of making kimchi and tweaked a little here and there after reading and eating a lot of it. The secret of a good kimchi lies in the paste. The recipe below is a ‘blend’ (strongly inspired by and, yielding a great paste you can keep in your fridge for a long time and apply on seasonal vegetables you like. You start by making an umami-rich broth which is the base for a layered and intense kimchi*.

Type of fermentation: lacto-fermentation
Level: a little more demanding
Tools: large mixing bowl, blender or mixer

Ingredients (for about 1200 ml – enough for at least 10kg of vegetables):
750 ml dried fish and kelp broth (750 ml water + 1 handfuls of kelp, dried anchovies and dried pollock)*
2,5 tablespoon glutinous rice powder
300 ml Korean red chili pepper flakes gochugaru, (with this amount, you obtain a rather spicy paste, adjust to your taste if you like it milder)
110 – 150 ml (7 – 10 tablespoons) salted shrimp (saeujeot), finely minced
75 – 110 ml (5 – 7 tablespoons) fish sauce (myulchiaekjeot)
75 – 110 ml (10 – 15 tablespoons) garlic, minced
2,5 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
1 small onion, chopped

1. Start by making the broth: bring a pot to the boil with 750 ml of water, the kelp, dried ansjovis and pollack. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

2. Remove from the heat and let it sit for 20 minutes to intensify the stock. Strain the stock and reserve.

3. Mix the rice powder with the 200 ml of the broth and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until it thickens to a thin paste, and cool.

4. Puree the garlic, ginger and onion with remaining broth (in a blender). Add the fish sauce and the minced salted shrimps. Combine all the seasoning ingredients in al large bowl, including the rice paste, and mix well. Set aside until the red pepper flakes dissolve slightly and become pasty.

5. Put the paste in a clean glass jar and store in the fridge or use straight away to make kimchi.

*For a vegetarian version, you can make the broth with 3-4 dried shi-takes + a handful of kelp. Leave out the salted shrimp and replace the fish sauce by the same amount of (soup) soy sauce.