Step 5: Mix and stuff

Picture of Mix and stuff
Drain the brine from the vegetables (reserving in case you need it later), and taste. They should taste nice and salty, but not so salty that you wouldn't want to eat it. If it is so salty that it is very unpleasant rinse a little. If it doesn't taste good and salty, add a little salt. I know this is very subjective, but usually the brine proportion works and doesn't require tweaking. But in case, you should know that tweaking is ok.

Mix the vegetables with the ginger-chili-onion-garlic paste. Mix thoroughly, then stuff into jars. I find two quart-sized mason jars are just about right, but you can also use more pint jars, or a single larger crock or jar. Pack it tightly, and put something on top to weight it down. This can be a slender glass tumbler, a ziplock bag filled with water or brine, a nice clean smooth rock that fits inside the jar, etc. And actually, I have made perfectly edible kimchee without weighting it down, just by packing very tightly in the jars and pushing the contents down firmly each day while fermenting. It's better if it is weighted though, which is why traditional pickling crocks were so handy. A small bowl-shaped Chinese or Japanese teacup pressed down on the mixture in the jar is something I have used from time to time.

Cover to keep out dust and flies (I like the plastic screw-on Mason jar caps because they are nonreactive and easy). Set on a tray to catch any juice that may come up and over the top of the jar while fermenting. You can ferment this on your kitchen counter, smelling and tasting it daily until it tastes like Kimchee and then refrigerate, or you can put it in a cool basement to ferment more slowly and develop more complex flavors.

Generally it is ready when the cabbage and daikon are somewhat translucent and softened, but you can start eating it any time, dependent on your taste. Usually when it smells right, it tastes right. If it is left in the refrigerator long enough to smell sweet or alcoholic, it has gone bad. We never have that problem though, because it is too delicious
jlh3573 years ago
This question is about the fermentation part, do you not tighten down the lids of the jars, or do you open ferment by leaving the lids loose?

i just completed this. i didnt know how much chili to put in. i used red radish and yellow onion because whole foods didnt have anything!!!! we'll see....
from "The Joy of Pickling" I learned that cayenne mixed with sweet paprika 1:1 (a Tbs of each) makes a good substitute for Korean chili in kim-chi. I've made several batches this way and think it's perfect
jlh357 dstone-13 years ago
Do you use a half cup of your cayenne and sweet paprika mix to this recipie?

I just made my first batch and used some red pepper flakes I had in the house. It's looking great so far and is fermenting very hard.

dstone-1 jlh3573 years ago
not a half cup, just 2 tablespoons..a half cup would be VERY spicy
jlh357 dstone-13 years ago
Thank you so much, I was putting together another batch as the first is
turning out great.
This is the best recipie I've come across and it's a great one. I will let you konw how I do with the cayenne and sweet paprika.

Thanks again.
dstone-14 years ago
I've made several batches of kim-chi from a similar recipe and it's always great (better than any I've bought in a store). It uses half the salt, 1 Tbs per pint of water and seems to work fine. I've never tried any fish nor other base than napa cabbage. my next batch is gonna have bonito and bok-choi. sounds delicious!!
arrowfire4 years ago
Thanks so much for this, I just started the fermentation of my first ever batch. I followed your directions exactly but added more garlic as I love garlic. Also I decided to Grade all of mine as I dont like Chunky. I also rinsed the veggies as it was a litte to salty for me. And thanks for the tip for weighting it down, I used a plastic bag filled with the brine to weigh it down.
gweedoh!5 years ago
Thanks for the instructable! I just started my first batch tonite, I was sick of the msg laden jars I found in stores. I'm adding a bit of honey to my spice paste to try and re-create a sweet/spicy kimchee I just had recently, I hope it works! I usually make quick shoyu pickles, so this will be a nice change up, and kimchee soup is one of my favorites....
guerrilla5 years ago
stupid question - what is a non-reactive mixing bowl? BTW thanks for the instructable!
Cucumbers are also amazing in this solution! I have had a different version of Korean Fermented Veggies. They use a combo of Miso and some thick slices of cucumbers and it comes out tasting so good! I will have to find a link and post it later. if you know of one please let me know! Asian Cuisine ROCKS!
megmaine (author)  legendofmatt5 years ago
Miso-pickled vegetables (and even meat and fish) deserves its own chapter, or maybe its own Instructable! A friend from Kyoto once told me about how prior to WWII, Japanese housewives preserved raw meat, fish, and vegetables by covering them in salty miso. I tried it once with chicken and the results were marvelous. Of course, I did cook the cured chicken, by simmering it, and it made great soup. But it did take simmering and soaking before the salt leached out enough to eat. Thanks for this interesting side note!
zhenia6 years ago
Thanks for this! I love kimchi, will try to make some. Is there any veggie sauce you can recommend instead of the fish sauce I can use?
If the no-seafood-in-kimchi is just a matter of taste preference and not a part of a lifestyle choice, I'd like to point out that the bonito adds a savory flavor that isn't at all fishy. I think Caesar salad is a good example of this. Many people vehemently hate all forms of seafood, yet they can't get enough delicious Caesar dressing. Many are horrified when they discover it contains a heaping helping of anchovy puree. Yup.
megmaine (author)  zhenia6 years ago
Actually, I have never tried it for this purpose, but vegemite comes to mind. It's a dark, savory, yeast-derived broth concentrate paste well-loved in the UK and Australia. But honestly, fish is just an option in kimchi, and can just as well be made without. So to those who don't eat fish, there is no reason you can't just make your kimchi with none in it. It's an optional flavor.