Kim Chee

Oh David Chang, you are a genius. Project Kim Chee all started with this 2nd Edition of Lucky Peach magazine (brought to you by Chang & my other food crush, Anthony Bourdain).

Chang’s got a crazy-easy recipe for kim chee contained within this tome, and he made it seem so… accessible. Like even I couldn’t screw it up. It’s a two day process, but really not all that time-consuming.
Start out with a big ass head of napa cabbage. They’re $.50/lb or less at the asian grocery stores in Albany. This particular head was exactly four pounds. Yes, I tared the bowl.

The next step is quartering each head and removing the tough cores. But don’t throw them out! Just cut them into little slices. We waste nothing with this kim chee.

Chang’s recipe says to cut the quarters of napa into 2″ sections. That’s the size you get (or larger) in kim chee you can buy in stores. I don’t like those size leaves – too big and difficult to cram in my mouth (I know, hard to believe).

I sliced these into 1″ sections instead. I’m so badass!


Then you throw them in a bowl and dump a TON of kosher salt and granulated sugar on them. I’m serious. It’s a lot of both. Cover it with saran wrap and let it hang out in your fridge overnight.
Wow, that really shrunk overnight, hunh? There’s a lot of water at the bottom of that bowl, so you want to drain out as much as you can, but there’s no need to go crazy with it.

Then I busted out my handy dandy mandoline to matchstick-ify some carrots (please, like I have the dexterity to even think of trying that with a knife), and roughly sliced up some scallions. Just one bunch of scallions is fine.
Next, we prepare our chili paste in a blender. About a cup of chili flakes, 3/4 cup soy sauce. 5 T fish sauce. About a dozen dried shrimp (I think that dried scallops would also make a great dried fish ingredient). Close to a whole head of garlic, 2-3″ of ginger (peeled), some sugar syrup, and probably some other stuff I’m forgetting. Any who, whir that into a paste.

Plop the paste onto all of the other ingredients.
ATTACK! If you wear contacts, I highly recommend wearing a glove when touching spicy items. Otherwise you will scream later.

Mix, mix, mix. Work it girl – you really wanna work that hot & spicy paste into every bit of your veggies. I think that some daikon probably wouldn’t have been a bad addition to the napa cabbage with salt & sugar the night before now, come to think of it.

Then pack it in some jars. I had a few ball jars, and a few leftover other glass jars (miraculously with tops, even).

Let it sit in the back of your fridge for at least a week before you even think of trying it.

Then have your husbear make kim chee fried rice! Holy moly, I have no clue what kind of kitchen chicanery her worked on this, but this was good! And that’s coming from a rice-hater.

The kim chee wasn’t that fermented after a week, but had a good kick to it and was quite velvety. Sweeter than I’m used to, that’s for sure. I’ll give it another try in a week and see how it’s fermented, but it’s definitely tasty stuff.

3 comments
  1. B said:

    Been wanting to try this for a while! Definitely update. Was it spicy enough from just the chili flakes and garlic? I like my kim chee on the thermonuclear side.

    “If you wear contacts, I highly recommend wearing a glove when touching spicy items. Otherwise you will scream later.”

    Oh god. The pain. The whimpering.

  2. jb said:

    Did you rinse it to remove most of the salt and sugar?

  3. pirripirri said:

    Seems like this would be too sweet a version for me. And I'm kind of surprised by the soy sauce. But there are certainly tons of versions of kimchee. I like the kimchee at Mingle, including in the kimchee stew with pork belly. Also the kaktugi which is made from Korean radish. That's something I'd like to make, also.

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