Made of cabbage, baechu kimchi is the traditional form of kimchi and the most recognisable – you can refer to it just as kimchi, and everyone will know what you mean.
1 large napa cabbage or 2 small cabbages
1 cup coarse sea salt
5 cups of water
450g Korean radish
¼ Asian pear (optional)
3-4 spring onions
1 tbsp glutinous rice powder
½ cup Korean red chilli pepper flakes, or to taste
¼ cup saeujeot, finely minced
3-4 raw shrimp, finely minced or ground
3 tbsp fish sauce
3 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp sesame seeds (optional)
½ cup water
1 Cut the cabbage lengthways into quarters by cutting into the stem end of the cabbage to about 10cm in. Slowly pull apart by hand, to separate cabbage into two pieces. Repeat for each half to make quarters.
2 In a large bowl, dissolve ½ cup of salt in 5 cups of water. Thoroughly bathe each cabbage quarter in the water, one at a time, then shake off excess water back into the bowl and transfer to another bowl.
3 Generously sprinkle the remaining ½ cup of salt over the thick white part of each cabbage leaf, starting from the outside. Repeat with the remaining cabbage quarters. Pour over the salt water from the previous step, and set aside for 6-8 hours, rotating the bottom quarters to the top every 2-3 hours. When the white parts are easily bendable, rinse cabbage thoroughly 3 times. Set aside to drain, cut side down.
4 Meanwhile, make the glutinous rice powder, by mixing with ½ cup of water and simmering over a low heat until it thickens to a thin paste, then cool. Combine all the seasoning ingredients, including the rice paste; mix well.
5 Cut the radish and pear (if using) into matchsticks – use a mandoline if you have one. Cut the spring onions into 5cm-long pieces. Transfer to a large bowl and combine with seasoning, and mix well by hand (you may want to use gloves for this). Taste – it should be a little too salty to eat as is. Add more salt or fish sauce, if necessary. Set aside for up to an hour.
6 Cut the stem from each cabbage quarter, leaving enough to hold leaves together. Place one quarter in the bowl with the radish mix. Spread mix over each leaf (about 1-2 tbsp for large leaves). Starting from the heart of the cabbage, fold the leaf of the cabbage towards the stem, wrap with the outermost leaf, then place it cut sideup in a large jar or airtight container. Repeat with other quarters.
7 Once all the cabbages are in the jar, press down hard to remove air pockets. Rinse the bowl used for the radish mix with ½ cup water and pour over. Leave out at room temperature for a day or two, then store in the fridge. It will be fully fermented after about two weeks.
Kimchi will keep for several weeks in the fridge