I have prepared Kimchi several times already, and to streamline the process, I have come up with an all-purpose vegan kimchi paste, which can be used to season all types of kimchi (cabbage, radish, pumpkin, mix vegetable, etc.)
In the recipe card below, you can find how to prepare Mat Baechu (Simple Cabbage) kimchi with this all-purpose. In Korean, baechu means cabbage and mak means simple. It refers to the square cut used for the cabbage. This is in contrast to the more elaborate poggi kimchi (stuffed and rolled cabbage), or tongbaechu (whole stuffed cabbage).
For more Kimchi & Korean recipes, check out my:
Mat Baechu (Simple Cabbage) Kimchi and All-Purpose Vegan Kimchi Paste
Simple cut napa cabbage (baechu) kimchi with an all-purpose vegan kimchi paste.
Basic Vegan Kimchi Paste (for 1 head cabbage, or approximately 1.2 kg)
- 10 g (1 tbsp) glutinous rice flour (optional, see Notes)
- 120g (1/2 cup) filtered water (optional, for cooking glutinous rice flour)
- 60 g (1/2 cup + 2 tbsp) gochugaru (this is fairly spicy, reduce amount if desired)
- 24 g (6 cloves) garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
- 12 g (2 inch) ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
- 8 g (2 tsp) tamari
- 3 g dulse flakes, kelp flakes, or shredded nori
- 3 g 1 1/2 tsp dried shiitake powder (can experiment with other mushroom powders like porcini, reishi, cordyceps, lion's mane)
Cabbage & Vegetables
- 1.2 kg (1 head) Napa cabbage, cut to 2 inch pieces
- 21.6g (1 1/2 tbsp) coarse sea salt or Himalayan salt (1.8% weight of cabbage) (see Notes)
- 380 g (1 small) daikon, peeled and julienned
- 3 bunches (1/2 cup) green onion, cut to 1 inch pieces
For the Cabbage and Vegetables
Remove and reserve the tough outer leaves of the cabbage. Cut the cabbage in half lengthwise just through the base, then pull apart the upper portion of two halves with your hand. Cut each half into 5 cm (2 inch) squares.
Put the cut cabbage in a large clean bowl. Measure salt at 1.8% of weight of cabbage and lightly sprinkle all over the cut cabbage. Use clean hands to massage the salt into the cabbage until it begins to release liquid, about 5 minutes. Set aside while you prepare the other vegetables.
Peel and julienne the daikon. Cut the green onions. Set aside while you prepare the kimchi paste.
For the All-Purpose Kimchi Paste
Optional step for glutinous rice flour. In a small saucepan over high heat, bring the water to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and whisk in the glutinous rice flour, stirring constantly for 1-2 minutes to smooth out and thicken the mixture to a glue-like consistency. Remove from heat and let it cool down to room temperature.
In a food processor or blender, add the glutinous rice porridge (if using), and remaining ingredients for the kimchi paste. Blend on high speed until the mixture is well-combined and smooth.
To Season the Kimchi
Drain the salted cabbage and using clean hands, squeeze out as much water as possible. Reserve the cabbage juice.
Using gloved hands, massage the kimchi paste into the cabbage until evenly distributed and well-coated. Add the prepared daikon and green onion and gently massage again until everything is well-coated.
Transfer the mixture to clean, sterilised jars. As you add the mixture, tamp it down with your fist or tamper to force out any air pockets. Continue until the jar is almost full, leaving 5 cm (2 inches) of headspace to allow for expansion. Ensure that all the vegetables are submerged in kimchi juice. Top up with reserved cabbage juice if necessary.
Take one or two of the reserved cabbage leaves and fold it up so it fits the mouth of the jar. Finally, place a fermentation weight on the cabbage leave to weigh down on the kimchi. Secure jar(s) with airlock.
Ferment the kimchi in a cool place away from direct sunlight for 4-6 days. Taste the kimchi after 4 days. When the kimchi is slightly sour with some bubbly effervescence, it is ready. If it is not sour enough, reseal the jar and continue to ferment for another day or two, then taste-check again. Once fermented to your liking, replace the fermentation lid with a regular lid, seal, and store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.
On glutinous rice
Glutinous rice porridge is used in traditional kimchi recipes, where it serves as a carbohydrate source for lactic acid fermentation. I have prepared kimchi without glutinous rice porridge and find little difference, if any. Hence if you prefer a grain-free or paleo kimchi, you can simply omit the glutinous rice.
On salt concentration
While most books recommend at least 2.5% salt concentration for kimchi for safe and yeast-free fermentation, I prefer low salt. I do not have problems with fermentation at 1.8% salt concentration, as long as you ensure all equipment is properly sanitised and the fermenting jar and properly sealed and in anaerobic condition as much as possible to avoid Kahm yeast. Kimchi ferments faster at low salt concentration, so you can check the taste after 3 days, especially if you live in a warm climate.