In their new book The Korean Cookbook, chef Junghyun Park (New York’s Atoboy, Naro, Seoul Salon and Atomix) and Korean food expert Jungyoon Choi have distilled 10 years of research into 350 recipes and several essays surveying the history, regional variations and traditions of Korean cookery and cuisine.
This recipe for napa cabbage kimchi sits alongside myriad others for dishes including bibimbap, jang (fermented soybean sauces), mandu (dumplings) and buchimgae (savoury pancakes).
“The napa cabbage kimchi is one of the most iconic kimchis of Korea,” write Park and Choi. “It is typically made in fall or winter, when the napa cabbage is most delicious. When made in the winter, the brining time is six to seven hours. In the summer, three to four hours is sufficient, however napa cabbage harvested in the summer is best prepared as the unfermented baechu geotjeori (fresh napa cabbage kimchi), because the softer texture is not ideal for fermented kimchi.”
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Junghyun Park and Jungyoon Choi’s napa cabbage kimchi
Makes about 2kg of kimchi
Prep time: 1 hour, plus 7 hours brining time and 11-12 days fermentation
Cooking time: 10 minutes
1 large head (about 2kg) napa cabbage, also known as Chinese leaf
120g coarse sea salt
1 tbsp glutinous rice flour
65g gochugaru (red chilli flakes)
6 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp chopped fresh ginger
480ml Korean pear juice
1 tbsp salted shrimp
3 tbsp anchovy fish sauce
350g mu (Korean radish), cut into 4cm matchsticks
100g onion, halved and thinly sliced
50g scallions, cut into 4cm lengths
30g minari, cut into 4cm lengths
To brine the cabbage, first remove any damaged leaves from the head. Make an incision 5cm long at the base of the cabbage and pull the cabbage in half by tearing with your hands. With extra-large napa cabbage, cut into quarters.
In a bowl, stir to combine 60g of the coarse salt with 950ml of water. Taking the halved cabbage, dip it into the salt water four times, making sure each leaf is evenly coated. Repeat for all. Sprinkle the remaining 60g salt evenly over the cabbage, focusing on the thicker parts of the leaves and including the outer layers and the base.
Choose an airtight glass or ceramic container large enough to fit the kimchi with a small amount of breathing room at the top (to prevent overflow while fermentation occurs). Place the salted cabbage into the container, cut side up. Pour in the remaining brine to cover. To prevent the leaves from floating, set a heavier object, such as a water bottle, on the cabbage to keep it submerged.
Let the cabbage brine at room temperature for 6–7 hours. Check that the cabbage is sufficiently brined by testing the thickest part of the leaf – it should gently bend to the touch. Rinse the cabbage three times under cold running water, squeeze out excess water, and place the cabbage face down in a sieve to drain excess moisture. Discard the brine from the container.
To make the rice slurry, in a small saucepan combine the glutinous rice flour and 240ml water and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly so that the flour does not clump. When bubbles begin to form, cook, while stirring, for another 3 minutes to form a slurry. Remove from the heat and let cool completely.
For the kimchi seasoning, in a large bowl combine the gochugaru, garlic, ginger, pear juice, salted shrimp, fish sauce and cooled rice slurry and mix until evenly combined. Add the mu, onion, scallions and minari, and toss.
To assemble the kimchi, stuff each layer of the prepared cabbage with the kimchi seasoning mixture.
After finishing each wedge, use the outermost leaf to enclose the cabbage and prevent the kimchi seasonings from escaping. Place the finished kimchi into the container with the cut side facing up, pressing the cabbages down firmly so that there is no space left in the container. Pour any remaining kimchi seasoning over the pressed cabbages. Cover the surface of the kimchi with cling film to avoid contact with oxygen as much as possible, and close the container. Let ferment at room temperature for 1–2 days and then move into the refrigerator for an additional 10 days.
The kimchi can be stored for more than 1 year if stored well in the refrigerator, as long as it is prevented from coming into contact with oxygen as much as possible.
The Korean Cookbook by Junghyun Park and Jungyoon Choi is published by Phaidon on September 26, for $74.95.