Beet Kimchi

I have a love-hate relationship with pickled vegetables. I absolutely love pickles when they’ve been made by fermenting in brine, but I can’t bring myself to like pickles that have been preserved with vinegar. For example, when I was a kid in school, we’d often have slices of pickled beet as part of our school lunch, of the vinegar kind. I detested them, and because of that, it took me years to learn to like beets! When I read about Liz’s pickled turnips, I thought that maybe making pickled vegetables isn’t that hard, and I’ve been wanting to try my hand making some since. I decided to start with kimchi, and add my favourite root vegetable – the one I used hate in school, beetroot.

After googling, reading and watching through a plethora of kimchi recipes, I settled on the one that looked most promising, and adapted it to my liking. Not only it proved to be really easy to make, but supremely delicious too! I am already planning my next batch of pickled vegetables. Even though making kimchi is easy, it does require some planning ahead. During the first day, there are two separate stages of preparing, and a six hour wait between them. After that, it takes three or four days of fermentation before the kimchi is ready.

This is what I used:

  • 650 g chinese cabbage
  • plenty of salt
  • 1 beet, grated
  • 2 red onions, chopped
  • 2 – 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • slice of ginger, about 1 cm thick, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons hot chili powder (or to taste)
  • 4 teaspoons sugar

When making the kimchi, I mostly followed the instructions from the Pyongyang metro kimchi recipe.

I began by rinsing and chopping the cabbage, resulting with pieces of cabbage about 5 cm in diameter. I made layers from the cabbage in a plastic bag, sprinkling salt liberally between each layer. At this stage, it’s important to ensure that the cabbage is thoroughly salted, so next I poured some salt over my hands and rubbed the pieces of cabbage between my hands. I added some more salt, and repeated until I’d gone through all of the cabbage. Then I squeezed the pieces of cabbage between my hands to extract as much water out of them as possible. I did this over the plastic bag, so that all the extracted water was collected in the bag. I tied up the bag, and let it sit for 6 hours.

At this point, the original recipe said rinse the cabbage “if necessary”, and remove the extra water, but since my cabbage wasn’t that watery, I decided not to remove any water. Moreover, I didn’t rinse the cabbage, since I hadn’t used that much salt. Most of the saltiness disappears in the fermentation process anyway. Now I put the cabbage in a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid, and added the rest of the ingredients. I put on my kitchen gloves, and started squeezing the ingredients in my fists. I continued squeezing the cabbage mix for a couple of minutes.

All done! I tasted it a bit, and it was already really yummy, a bit salty perhaps. I closed the lid, and put the kimchi box into our coolest cupboard for 3 days. I think I read from one of the recipes, that the place to keep the kimchi should be under 20 degrees Celsius.

After three days, the kimchi was ready! I kept it in the fridge now, so that it wouldn’t go extra sour too quickly. We ate it as a side a couple of times, and I had it over rye bread a few times. We also made kimchi fried rice, which was really great! I followed this recipe pretty closely, except I substituted the meat for tofu, and omitted the eggs, of course. Oh, and I used 2 or 3 times more tamari than the recipe calls for, adding more of it in the end, tasting until the balance was right.

Kimchi fried rice with some steamed bok choy