Cut cabbage in half lengthways, then cut each half crossways into 2.5 cm pieces.
Chef’s Tip: Buy the best cabbage possible. Preserving often gets off on the wrong foot because people have the idea that you start the pickling process with food that’s about to spoil. That’s a bad idea. You need the best ingredients possible, at the height of their freshness.
If you’re making radish kimchi, peel daikon, trim off any discoloured sections, then cut them into 1.5 cm chunks and proceed as follows.
Chef’s Tip: Among the things that can keep your kimchi from turning out right are not using enough salt and not storing it properly.
Toss the cabbage or radish with the salt and 2 tbsps of the sugar in a large bowl. Refrigerate for half an hour (even up to overnight) while you prepare the seasoning.
Chef’s Tip: Have a very big mixing bowl and a pair of gloves at the ready to prevent your hands from smelling of kimchi.
Combine the garlic, ginger, gochugaru, fish sauce, usukushi, shrimp and remaining sugar in a large bowl. Blend to a paste with a stick blender.
Chef’s Tip: To prevent your food processor from being permanently permeated with the intense smells and flavours of kimchi, you may want to use a stick blender and cheap, big plastic cup when blending the ingredients for the paste.
Add water ⅓ cup at a time to seasoning mixture until it’s just thicker than a creamy salad dressing, but no longer a sludge (about 1 cup water in total).
Stir in the spring onions and julienned carrots.
Drain the cabbage or radish and add to the seasoning mixture.
Chef’s Tip: Pack kimchi into resealable Mason jars, or a sturdy Tupperware container. Ensure the kimchi is submerged in the pickling liquid. Keep the kimchi in a cool, dark spot, until it starts to ferment, then refrigerate it. It usually takes 48 hours for fermentation to start. You can taste the effervescence. From this point it takes two weeks to a month for the fermentation to do its work and the kimchi to be in its prime. If you want to serve it now, no problem.
Pack the kimchi in jars, ensuring the cabbage is submerged, cover with plastic wrap, and pierce a couple of times to allow air to escape. Stand it in a cool, dark place until it starts to ferment (48 to 72 hours), then refrigerate. Though the kimchi will be tasty after 24 hours, it will be better in a week, at its prime in 2 weeks and still good for up to a month, though it will become funkier as time passes.
Chef’s Tip: When you’ve come to the end of the bucket, don’t throw away the liquid. Strain it and use it as a starter for your next batch. Try with daikon radishes this time.