Kimchi is a staple of Korean life and many Koreans include it in their meals three times a day. You can eat it by itself, or use it in so many different Korean recipes. When Koreans make kimchi, they make an effort to make the best kimchi possible and include many regional ingredients.
Today I will show you how to make a traditional-style kimchi with oysters, and we’ll also make radish kimchi (“kkakdugi”) with the same kimchi paste, which saves us from having to make these two kinds of kimchi separately. This is how I make kimchi and kkaktugi, because I need both in my house, but you might be interested in my “easy kimchi” (mak kimchi) recipe if you don’t have a lot of time, or in my kakdugi recipe if you want to make only kakdugi. If you don’t like oysters, you can leave them out.
Many people think you have to wait for kimchi to be fermented before eating, but personally I prefer to eat fresh kimchi, as soon as I make it. And I like to make stew (kimchi-jjigae) out of older kimchi.
- 2 large size napa cabbages (about 8 pounds: 3.6 kg) and 2 Korean radishes (about 4-5 pounds: 2 kg)
- 1½ cup of kosher salt
- ½ cup sweet rice flour, ¼ cup sugar, water
- 4 cups of hot pepper flakes
- 1 cup fish sauce,
- 1 medium sized onion, minced (about 1 cup)
- 1 cup of fresh garlic, minced
- 1 tbs minced ginger
- 7 stalks of green onions, chopped diagonally
- 2 cups worth Buchu (Asian chives), chopped,
- 2 cups of matchstick-cut radish
- fresh oysters (optional)
- Cut the cabbages in half, and then slit each half through the core, but not through the rest of the leaves.
- Soak each piece in cold water and sprinkle salt over the each leaf , and then set it aside for 2 hours.
*tip: the stems should get more salt than the leaves
- Peel 2 kg of Korean radishes and cut them into 1 inch cubes. Do this by cutting them into several disks, and then cutting horizontally, and then vertically. Put them in a big bowl and sprinkle them with ¼ cup of salt. Then set these aside, too.
- 2 hours later, turn the pieces of cabbage over so they get salted evenly. Turn the radishes as well.
- Another 2 hours later, you will see the cabbage look softer than before, and it should have shrunk.
*the total salting process will take 4 hours
- Rinse the salted cabbage and radish with cold water 3 times.
Making Kimchi paste:
- Put ½ cup of sweet rice flour and 3 cups of water into a skillet and mix them up. Then cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly.
- When you see some bubbles, pour 1/4 cup of sugar into the porridge and stir one more minute. Then cool it down.
- Place the cold porridge into a big bowl. Now you will add all your ingredients one by one.
- Add fish sauce, hot pepper flakes, crushed garlic, ginger, and onion
*tip: it’s much easier to use a food processor.
- Add green onions, Asian chives, and radish.
- Add 2 cups of frozen oysters, but this is optional. (I found out lots of people can’t eat them.)
- Mix all ingredients well.
Are you ready to spread our paste on the leaves and make your kaktugi?
* I recommend you wear rubber gloves so that you don’t irritate your skin.
- Spread the kimchi paste onto each leaf of the cabbage, and make a good shape out of the leaves by slightly pressing with both hands.
- Put it into an air- tight sealed plastic container or glass jar.
- Mix your leftover paste with your radish cubes to make kkakdugi.
You can eat it fresh right after making or wait until it’s fermented. Put the Kimchi container at room temperature for 1 or 2 days and keep it in the refrigerator.
How do you know it’s fermented or not?
One or 2 days after, open the lid of the Kimchi container. You may see some bubbles with lots of liquids, or maybe sour smells. That means it’s already being fermented.