Korean food is the It flavour of the moment, and kimchi are essential to a Korean meal. These pickled vegetables can be served right away, but for authentic flavour leave to ferment and bubble away for a week or two before tucking in.
Peel and roughly chop the ginger.
Crush and peel the garlic cloves.
Top and tail the spring onions. Roughly chop the white part of the spring onions, and cut the greens into 2cm chunks.
Place the ginger, garlic cloves, white part of the spring onions, shrimp paste, soy sauce and caster sugar in a blender or mortar and puree until smooth. Stir in the gochugaru chilli powder and the spring onions greens.
Set aside until needed.
Top and tail that cucumbers. Cut into quarters and remove the seeds. Slice the cucumbers into sticks or wedges. Place in a large mixing bowl, sprinkle liberally with salt, and leave to render out its juices for at least 20 minutes.
Top and tail the daikon radish. Peel, then cut into thin ribbons using either a knife or a mandolin. Place in a mixing bowl and sprinkle liberally with salt. Leave to rest for 30 minutes.
Trim the root end of the Chinese cabbage, and delicately separate out each leaf. Separate the soft green parts from white ribs. Slice the ribs into 2cm chunks. Place everything in a mixing bowl, toss with salt, and set aside for 30.
When the vegetables have rendered out their juices, drain, then rinse under cold water. Drain again, making sure to squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Pat dry, if necessary.
Divide the chilli paste amongst the vegetables, and toss, making sure to cover everything.
Pack each vegetable into its own large jar: the pickles will render out more liquid, so it is important to place them in large jars or containers. DO NOT shut the lid, just place on top of the jar: as kimchi ferments, it lets off gas, which needs to be evacuated to prevent any accident! If you are using a Kilner-type jar with a removable rubber gasket, remove the gasket to allow for venting.
Leave to pickle in a cool and dark place to ferment in peace. Do check on them daily: make sure that the vegetables remain submerged under the liquid, otherwise any floater may begin to mould.
DO Not get put off by any bubbling! It is perfectly normal for the pickling to become active after 2 or 3 days, depending on the weather. By the same token, sometimes fermentation occurs at a more subtle pace, and you may not notice any bubbling at all. If this is the case, place the jar in a slightly warmer spot, and see if that activates the fermentation.
Cucumber kimchi is ready to eat within hours, but the best flavour is obtained after 3 days of rest. Cucumber kimchi keeps for 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
Daikon kimchi is best after 1 week of fermenting, and should be consumed within 1-2 months.
Cabbage kimchi requires at least 2 weeks of fermenting, and is best consumed within 3 months.
All kimchi should be transferred to air tight containers and refrigerated once the fermentation is done. Although they are best consumed within the time periods stated above, they will actually keep for several months.
Once you are comfortable with these recipes, try experimenting with other vegetables: garlic kimchi are a feisty alternative to olives on the appetizer tray!
If a vegetarian version is preferred, the shrimp paste can be left out altogether or substituted with seaweed powder, which can be found in health food shops.
«Gochugaru is a medium-hot Korean chilli powder: it is fruity and subtly smoky in flavour. Although it is readily available in Asian shops, if you cannot source it, use a combination of sweet paprika and hot chilli powder.»