Thee favourite kimchee vegetable is Chinese (or Napa) cabbage. The Koreans ferment it in enormous quantities. They then pack the kimchee into huge earthenware jars, bury the jars in the ground up to the neck, and cover the lids with straw until the kimchee is needed. Kimchee almost always includes hot pepper, usually dried and either ground or crushed into flakes. Because the ground dried hot pepper sold in Korean markets is generally fairly mild, Koreans can use generous quantities. Some of the Mexican (and New Mexican) ground peppers now sold in supermarkets are comparable. If you can't find ground pepper with a moderate heat level, you might combine sweet paprika and cayenne to suit your taste.
- 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon pickling salt 1.5 litres of water
- 1 kg Chinese Napa cabbage, cut into 5 cm squares
- 6 scallions cut into 5 cm lengths, then slivered
- 1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons Korean ground dried hot pepper or other mildly hot ground red pepper
- 1 teaspoon sugar
Dissolve the 3 tablespoons salt in the water. Put the cabbage into a large bowl, a crock, or a nonreactive pot, and pour the brine over it. Weight the cabbage down with a plate. Let the cabbage stand for 12 hours.
Drain the cabbage, reserving the brine. Mix the cabbage with the remaining ingredients, including the 1 teaspoon salt. Pack the mixture into a 2-quart jar. Pour enough of the reserved brine over the cabbage to cover it. Push a freezer bag into the mouth of the jar, and pour the remaining brine into the bag. Seal the bag. Let the kimchi ferment in a cool place, at a temperature no higher than 20° C, for 3 to 6 days,until the kimchi is as sour as you like.
Remove the brine bag, and cap the jar tightly. Store the kimchi in the refrigerator, where it will keep for months.