My kimchi sits in the back kitchen fermenting away with their little hats on. (Doug Wallace)

The Best Kimchi Recipe

LESLIEVILLE, TORONTO—Expanding my international tastebuds, I have embraced the national condiment of Korea! Because I suck at baking, I forewent the sourdough starter that has overtaken 2020 kitchens and took to fermenting my own kimchi instead. My friend Kath came over with the fixings and taught me how to make it. I was to soak the Napa cabbage overnight. It turns out I had bought double the cabbage we needed, so we ended up with several jars, all gone within weeks.

I borrowed a few notes from her kimchi cookbook and have experimented with different styles and ingredients, before finding the recipe below online, which I continue to tweak to my taste. The thing is, you can ferment your kimchi for a few hours or for three days, depending on how you like it. And when you make it yourself, you also control the salt.

I soak my cabbage in salt water overnight, throw everything together (use gloves or you will have red hands for days!), cram it into jars and let it sit covered like this with little hats for 48 hours. Every morning, I poke it with a long knife to release the gas collecting at the bottom of the jars. THEN, I put the lids on and stash it in the fridge.

The benefits of kimchi are supposedly myriad, but the main one is that the healthy bacteria and probiotics promote good gut health. It is also said to lower cholesterol levels.

So easy and the kids love it!



The Best Kimchi Recipe

180 g coarse salt
1 large Napa cabbage
300 g daikon radish
1 carrot
3 spring onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves
4 cm root ginger, peeled
50 g Korean red chili flakes (gochugaru)
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp fish sauce

Boil and cool salted water. Boil 1.5 L of water with the salt, lower to medium and stir to dissolve. Pour into a large bowl and leave to cool

Prep the cabbage. Rinse the cabbage and chop it lengthways into quarters. Remove the cabbage core. Cut the quarters crossways into thick slices about 4 cm wide.

Soak the cabbage in brine. Put the cabbage in a large bowl and cover with the cooled water and toss slightly. Leave to sit in a cool place (but not the fridge) overnight—or for at least three hours.

Prep the other veg. Wash and cut the other vegetables into bite-sized cubes. I sometimes cut up a leek. Sprinkle with a bit of salt, leave to sit for half an hour, then drain.

Make the seasoning. Chop the garlic and ginger and put them in a bowl with the chili flakes, sugar and fish sauce, then loosen with about 150 ml cold water. Drain and rinse the cabbage then shake and pat the leaves dry in a clean towel. Then put the cabbage back into the large bowl, pour in the seasoning and toss to coat.