I love Kim chee. I first had Kim Chee at this tiny Chinese restaurant called Wah Kee in Madison WI in about 1992. It was served with my favorite meal, #51 which was Chinese noodles, beef, oyster sauce, some kind of Chinese green shredded ginger and the kim chee. I loved the sour-spicy-salty effervescence of it. I tried to make it at home but I didn't know much about fermenting at the time so I made a salty, slimy, stinky mess that was destined for the trash. About 6 years ago I attended a seminar in Austin Tx on fermented foods by Sandor Katz since I had been making my own kombucha and yogurt for years. I learned about vegetable fermentation and tasted some ferments that blew my mind. I tried to make kim chee again and this time I was rewarded with the delicious salty-sour-spicy effervescence I remembered from Madison. Nowdays I use a recipe from Dr. Ben Kim. He uses pears and apples as a sweetener to provide food for the fermentation bacteria to eat. Since I loathe pears with a blue lust, I just used a whole cored apple instead of half of each.. My process was to soak the cut Napa cabbage in a brine solution for about 4 hours then rinse lightly. Cut up some scallions, about double the amount called for because I love the flavor they get when fermented. Next I tossed in the blender the apple in chunks, half an onion, a few garlic cloves, about an inch of ginger a couple of glugs of fish sauce and more Korean chili flakes than one would imagine were healthy and blended it up to a thick slurry. I put on gloves and massaged the goop into the cabbage scallion mix then packed it in jars. I put weights on top to keep the cabbage submerged. That may not be a problem because I think the jars are a bit fuller than they should be. Now they will sit for a week before going into the fridge for as long as they last.
Fermenting food is fun and a great way to preserve and enhance the nutrition and gut healthy probiotics in fruits and vegetables. If you'd like to give fermenting a go, I highly recommend starting with a book by Sandor Katz, I believe he has 2 out and they arewell researched and tested. Sandor has been fermenting for decades and understands the chemistry and cultural practices of fermenting cultures around the globe. A website I really like is Grow, Forage, Cook, Ferment by Collene Codekas. Her main focus is foraged fermented meads but she has several nice veggie and fruit based ferments as well. If you decide to try fermenting, stop back and let me know what you did.