This recipe is by Rachel De Thample, Preserves tutor and author of the upcoming River Cottage Fermentation Handbook. It is a really simplified version of classic kimchi. The option of paprika makes it more accessible but no less delicious than traditional Korean recipes.
Whisk the water and salt together in a large glass or ceramic bowl.
Strip off two or three of the large, outer leaves of the cabbage and set aside. Quarter the remaining cabbage. Cut into 2cm-thick slices. Submerge both the shredded cabbage and the reserved leaves in the bowl of salted water. Cover with a clean tea towel and set aside for 8-12 hours or overnight – during this time the veg will take in beneficial yeasts and bacteria from the air.
Grind the chillies, garlic and ginger to a paste in a small spice grinder, a pestle and mortar, or just finely chop everything with a knife. Mix the gochujang or paprika through the paste mix. Finely dice or coarsely grate your pear, discarding the core.
Drain the cabbage but save the water.
Mix the chilli paste and pear through the cabbage pieces. Pack the mix into a sterlised jar, pressing it down as tightly as you can, ensuring there are no air pockets. Place the reserved leaves over the top, tucking the leaves in around the sides and pressing the mixture down as tightly as possible.
Pour in enough of the reserved salt water brine to come right to the top of the jar. Secure your jar with an airtight lid.
Set in a dark place in your kitchen and let the kimchi ferment for 1-2 weeks, checking it daily to ensure it stays fully covered by the liquid. Try not to open the jar, though, if you can. After a week or so, give it a little taste. Once it’s tender and tangy enough for you, it’s ready to eat. The longer you leave it, the more sour it will become.
Enjoy straight away or store in the fridge in a sealed, sterilized jar till you’re ready to eat it. As long as it’s covered in brine, stored in a clean jar with an airtight lid, it will keep for months if not years.
Makes approx. 1kg
1 litres water
40g sea salt
1 large white or Chinese leaf cabbage
1 red chillies, more or less, depending on how hot you want it
4 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger (peeled first)
2 teaspoons gochujang or paprika (hot or sweet, depending on the desired level of spiciness)
You will need: 1kg or 2 x 500g jars with airtight lid(s)
Fermentation time : 5-14 days