In Korean cuisine, pickled vegetables are served as a side dish with nearly every meal. Any vegetable can be pickled Korean style for kimchi, but Napa cabbage kimchi is the most familiar version here in the States. If you are unfamiliar with kimchi, think of it as a spicier version of sauerkraut or coleslaw.
In Korea, kimchi making is taken very seriously and is prepared on a large scale. A very good version can also be made at home in small batches using easy to find, familiar ingredients. In this quick version, napa cabbage is salted, rinsed, seasoned and packed into glass jars and stored in the refrigerator until needed. It can be eaten right away as fresh kimchee or can be allowed to ferment much like sauerkraut and eaten at any stage in the process.
This kimchi is excellent served with any Asian dish, but I love to serve it as a side dish for BBQ chicken, ribs and any grilled meat. Cucumbers are also excellent prepared with this recipe during the summer when the garden is in full cucumber production.
Quick and Easy Kimchi
2 tablespoons salt
1 large head Napa cabbage
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (2-inch) piece of ginger root, grated
¼ cup fish sauce
1 bunch of green onions, cut into 1-inch lengths
2-3 teaspoons Asian style garlic-chili paste (more or less to taste)
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
Cut the cabbage in half, and then fourths lengthwise. Cut each wedge across into 3-4 inch sections and place in a colander.
Sprinkle the cabbage with the salt and toss well to make sure all of the cabbage is seasoned. Let the cabbage sit for about 2 hours to draw out some of the water, rinse and squeeze dry. Place in a large bowl.
Add the remaining ingredients to the cabbage and combine very well. I wear disposable gloves and use my hands for this.
Pack the cabbage mixture tightly into a 1 quart mason jar pressing the cabbage down firmly. Put a lid on the jar and refrigerate till ready to use. The kimchi can be eaten right away, but I suggest waiting at least a few hours to let the flavors to blend. Will keep for several weeks, refrigerated.
Makes about 1 quart.