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Kimchi in your own kitchen

In "The Cookbook" we share recipes that are both delicious and healthy, traditional and contemporary. The recipes are provided to us by Roots Community Supported Agriculture, which has partnered with the First Baptist Church on Atlantic Boulevard to bring locally-grown produce to Alhambra residents.

Kimchi has gone through a renaissance in the U.S. in the past few years. It can be found in everything, from pancakes to burgers to papusas. Considering how versatile the dish is, it could be a valuable addition to your own refrigerator. Chef Jessica Wang shows us how easy it can be to prepare our own kimchi at home.

  • 1 medium head of fresh napa cabbage, about 2 lbs
  • about 1 tbsp salt, or 3% of veggies by weight
  • scant ½ cup Korean chili pepper
  • 1 bundle spring onion, about ½ cup chopped
  • 10 cloves garlic
  • 1-2 ¼-inch slices ginger root, optional
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce, optional
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 pair of gloves
  • 1 ½-2 quart jar w/ lid
A plate of kimchi | Photo by Charles Haynes on Flickr
Cooking Instructions

If an entire head of cabbage seems like too much, you can always use just half and make a salad or cook with the other half. Just remember to also split the other ingredients in half!

  1. Trim stem end of cabbage and remove outer leaves that appear damaged. Cut cabbage lengthwise, into quarters. Remove tough core. Cut quarters into desired size pieces.
  2. Toss with salt in a bowl, cover with the same size bowl or slightly smaller bowl to help press the cabbage, and allow to sit for at least 1 hour at room temperature. Salting overnight, or while you’re at work, in the refrigerator is another option. When ready the salt will have drawn water from the cabbage, and the cabbage will appear wilty.
  3. While the cabbage is undergoing the salting process, prepare the carrot, garlic, spring onion, and ginger root. Slice or mince the ginger, cut carrot into slivers, chop the garlic into small chunks, and cut the spring onion into thin rings or 2-inch segments. The size and shape is up to you, depending on your textural preference.
  4. Check on the salted cabbage and drain the water, reserving it for later. Put gloves on and in a bowl large enough to mix everything (if your cabbage wasn’t already in a large bowl for mixing), combine all the ingredients and distribute everything evenly. Pack the seasoned mixture into a jar and press down to ensure it will submerge itself in its surrounding juices. Pour the brine you drained earlier over the packed veggies. You’ll want to keep about 1 inch of headspace.
  5. In case the fermentation activity might push brine up and out of the jar, keep a wide bowl under the jar. Keep jar in a cool, dry, semi dark place, like a lower kitchen shelf. Indirect light is okay. Check on the kimchi jar every day. Release any trapped bubbles. Use a clean utensil to press it down if it is not submerged the day after you prepared it. Taste it when it appears bubbly and smells more funky, about 1-2 days later. Refrigerate it when it tastes good to you, to slow down the fermentation process. Enjoy with meals or as a snack! Make fried rice or soup with it when it gets super fermented!

This recipe comes from Jessica Wang, a pastry chef and food preserver. More of her culinary creations are featured on her Instagram: @chinesebeancurd. Wang also volunteers with the Asian and Pacific Islander Obesity Prevention Alliance (APIOPA). APIOPA is a nonprofit organization that brings healthy fruits and veggies to Alhambra through Roots Community Supported Agriculture. Click for more information on how to purchase the produce needed for this recipe, directly from a local farmer! 

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