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Jun Won Banchan Shop’s Traditional Cabbage Kimchi

Ep. 5, Banchan: Korean Food Beyond BBQ

Kimchi is one of the most traditional and iconic dishes to represent Korean cuisine. It is deceptively simple; using fresh and quality ingredients makes the subtle difference between good and great kimchi. The style of preparation and ingredients vary between regions and personal preference. Jun Won Banchan Shop’s classic recipe is a take on Southwestern Chungcheongnam-do. The key to this recipe is the daikon, or muu, which provides a freshness and subtle clean flavor to the kimchi.

Cabbage Kimchi (Baechu)
Yields 5 heads of cabbage, which should last up to 6 weeks

INGREDIENTS:

5 heads of Napa cabbage
1 bucket of chilled water (large enough to brine)
24 ounces of sea salt

Kimchi Seasoning (Marinade):
50 ounces gochugaru (ground Korean chili pepper)
1 cup shrimp paste extract (saewoo jut)
1 cup anchovy paste extract (myulchi jut)
1 large Korean daikon radish (muu), ground
2 yellow onions, ground
2 cups of garlic, finely minced or ground
24 ounces of white sugar
5 scallion stalks, roughly chopped into 1- to 2-inch pieces

DIRECTIONS: 

1. Prepare bucket by filling with water. Thoroughly wash the cabbage, removing any excess loose or wilted leaves (but leaving as much as possible intact).

2. Layer cabbages into water with 16 ounces of salt to brine, keeping the cabbage whole at all times. It is important to maintain the full cabbage heads until ready to be consumed.

3. Allow cabbage to brine for approximately 8 hours. About 4 hours in, add the remaining 8 ounces of salt. Occasionally redistribute the brine and rotate the cabbage throughout the brining period. No need to waste or discard the brine; just refresh salt and place back in the same water bucket.

4. Once ready to prepare kimchi, mix all seasoning ingredients together in a bowl for the marinade.

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5. After 8 hours, thoroughly rinse the cabbage 2 to 3 times. In a storage container, alternate layers of the thick marinade and cabbage, covering the cabbage as much as possible; this can be done loosely.

6. When all cabbages are completely covered, place and store in designated food storage containers (Korean markets sell special plastic kimchi buckets with handles and firm lids for full closure). Keep the closed container refrigerated for about 15 days to ferment and enrich its flavor.

7. After this period your homemade kimchi is ready for consumption. Remove from buckets and slice into 1- to 2-inch pieces (keeping layers intact for presentation). Keep the marinade juices in storage containers to maximize flavor.

8. With time, kimchi will slowly become more rich in flavor with further fermentation; when it becomes too rich or sour, do not discard! It is then ready for delicious kimchi jjigae stew, kimchi fried rice, or kimchi jeon pancakes.

Top photo: Jin Li/Flickr/Creative Commons License 

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