My Very First Kimchi Making Experience

Kimchi (κΉ€μΉ˜) is a popular traditional Korean dish which involves fermenting vegetables with seasonings. Each regions and seasons in Korea has their own distinct kimchi ingredients and flavours. So you can imagine how many varieties of kimchi you will find in Korea!

I didn’t like kimchi at first and neither the second nor the third time. It took me quite sometime to liking the kimchi taste. Once the love is there it really is hard to resist not eating kimchi. Anyway, I have a very strong urge to make my own kimchi earlier this year. After some dilly-dally I finally decided on Maangchi’s Easy Kimchi recipe. It’s a mat kimchi type which means it’s sliced bite-size.

My first homemade kimchi. Wohoooo. Ohmy gold!

Come follow my snapshots below in my very first kimchi making journey.

Air Drying Empty Bottles
First step is to wash the air-tight bottles with boiling water and air-dry them. I prefer using glass bottles rather than plastic container for storing kimchi. These bottles are usually use for storing acar come Chinese New Year. Mom bought ’em at Ikea.

10lbs Worth Of Napa Cabbage
10 lbs worth of napa cabbage. Gigantic! *whistles*

Slicing Napa Cabbage
Slicing napa cabbage, the main ingredient for making any type of kimchi.

Cutting, Rinsing & Draining
I enjoyed the slicing, soaking and rinsing work. Haha! Soaking the cabbage in cold water will assist the salting process later.

Salting Napa Cabbage
Thankfully I have a large unused basin. This is the beginning of salting process. Now this is the part that I made a mistake (I think so) by adding too much salt.

Salting Napa Cabbage 1.5 Hours Later
After 1.5hours of salting by turning the cabbage every 30 minutes, it’s back to rinsing 3-5 times depending how dirty the cabbages are and finally draining ’em.

Kimchi Ingredients
Others must-have kimchi ingredients: leeks, carrot, spring onions, radish, garlic, onion. Cut them up during the salting process since you will have plenty of free time.

Making Porridge
Next make porridge from sweet rice flour (glutinous rice flour). Cool porridge in cold water basin. This porridge is use for making kimchi paste.

Making Kimchi Paste
Making kimchi paste.

Making Kimchi
Making kimchi. This is my favorite process. πŸ™‚ *peace*

Finally, storing kimchi in air-tight glass bottles.

Managed to fit all the kimchi into 5 1/2 bottles.

My bottles of kimchi gold. Hehe

9 days old kimchi. I didn’t let my kimchi ferment a few days in the kitchen as I want them to ferment slowly hence I put them in the fridge right away.

How to know your kimchi is fermenting? You would notice air bubbles. From time to time, press down the top kimchi so that it is submerge in kimchi juice. Exposed kimchi (not submerge in kimchi juice) will spoil faster (you will notice white mold).

It looks good right?

So how was the taste? I gotta said I failed miserably. It has a weird after-taste and too salty. I know where the too salty part come from (me over salting the cabbage) but I couldn’t really pinpoint where the after-taste originate from. My best guess is the Vietnamese fish sauce that I used.

Funnily though I gave quite a few away to friends and they said the kimchi are delicious. Not sure whether they’re trying to be nice or due to them favoring this kind of taste. All in all I enjoyed the kimchi making process very much. I thought it would be VERY difficult but it turned out to be easy, fun and enjoyable. Next time though I will cut down on the napa cabbage. 3 is too much for just experimenting. πŸ˜›

I would like to end this post with a big THANK YOU to YOU!
Yes you my dear readers, thank you for visiting this humble food blog, thank you for trying the recipes and thank you for your valuable comments. It’s been a great 2011 for MessyWitchen.com and I look forward to sharing more recipes and cooking tips with you in 2012.

All the best and Happy New Year!

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  • Reply small Kucing December 29, 2011 at 12:13 am

    Happy New Year to you πŸ™‚

    • Reply Che-Cheh December 29, 2011 at 8:22 am

      Same to you dear πŸ™‚

      • Reply small Kucing January 10, 2012 at 8:25 pm

        Regarding the Chinese Arrowhead chips, i didnt salt them after frying coz i preferred them plain

  • Reply Elin December 29, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    Hi, your kimchi looks good. I have made kimchi too and I find that using cooked rice is better than using sweet glutinous rice porridge πŸ™‚ Yea there are many recipes and I find the one I used best of all. Anyway, yours definitely looks good. Happy 2012 to you πŸ™‚

    • Reply Che-Cheh December 29, 2011 at 10:54 pm

      Hi Elin, thanks for the tip. I’ll try the cooked rice next time. Btw which kimchi recipe did you follow? Happy 2012 to you too. πŸ™‚

      • Reply Hale December 30, 2011 at 12:37 am

        How did this turned out red color? Did you use tomato paste?

        • Reply Che-Cheh January 2, 2012 at 4:11 pm

          Hi Hale, the red color comes from chili flakes.

          • Hale January 2, 2012 at 12:50 pm

            ohh thank you, what is the brand name of chili flakes, is there β€œsweet flakes” that i can make with it? I can’t eat chili πŸ™

  • Reply Anna December 29, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    Thanks for the tips. Haven’t tried homemade Kimchi, ever! This is probably the right time that I try…I am excited, turnips, radish, cabbage, garlic, scallions, chili! Wow! i think I am ready. Great of you to post this…Thanks!

    • Reply Che-Cheh December 29, 2011 at 10:57 pm

      Hi Anna, Good luck on your first trial. Hope yours turn out great. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Shay December 29, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    GOOD JOB! I recall making my first Kimchee in 1985 to please someone special. Shudda put the crock on the back porch, not the kitchen floor. Phew! I still love it! Mmmm……spicy cabbage!

    • Reply Che-Cheh December 29, 2011 at 11:06 pm

      Hi Shay, thanks. Wow that’s long time ago. Once you’re hooked at it, no way you’re gonna back out. πŸ˜›

  • Reply Mark December 29, 2011 at 10:00 pm

    The first time I made Kimchi, it was way too salty. I left it for a long time
    then. When I recently tried it again, it turned out fine. I used Napa
    cabbage, Bok choy, radishes, daikon, English cucumber, and sliced things
    a lot thinner. I used a mandoline this time, except for the stuff I could
    tear. The sauce was ginger, Korean chili paste, garlic, fish sauce,
    anchovies. I didn’t let it sit too long, so I suppose it really didn’t
    ferment much, but it was crunchier, and I liked the texture. I opened
    it too soon, as I was curious to taste it.. but it was better after it
    sat for a couple of days more, in the frig. I’m not sure if I made it
    right, as I was just sort of playing without a recipe.. but it tasted pretty
    much like the real thing I had in Korea.. a little less sour and crisper.
    I didn’t make a ton of it: just a nice crock of it for a couple of days.. Mark

    • Reply Che-Cheh December 29, 2011 at 11:12 pm

      Hi Mark, I tasted the cabbage and knew it was salty (after the rinsing process 3 times) so I rinsed the cabbage extra 2 times but it was no use. Guess the salt has seep in. Hope I have better luck next time. I like less crunchy and sour cabbage. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Emily December 30, 2011 at 11:41 am

    Kimchi is my absolute FAVORITE food. Looks great in the jars πŸ™‚ Throw some of this in some miso soup with mushrooms and ramen noodles, and you have the tastiest meal ever.

    • Reply Che-Cheh December 30, 2011 at 12:26 pm

      Hi Emily, oh yeah kimchi and ramen… slurp!

    • Reply jandee June 16, 2013 at 10:28 pm

      Putting kimchi in a miso soup sounds good, must try it. Thanks for the tip!
      I maded kimchi several times and it always tastes slightly different, but I liked each batch, even the one where I didn’t put enough salt and it fermented really quickly but it didn’t spoil so I suppose it was healthier in this way πŸ™‚

      • Reply Che-Cheh June 17, 2013 at 8:30 am

        Hi Jandee, I never liked all the batches I made so far. I feel like they are missing something. πŸ™ I love store-bought kimichi more. Haha

  • Reply jemima December 30, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    Happy New Year to you, my dearest friend. πŸ˜€


    • Reply Che-Cheh December 31, 2011 at 12:04 pm

      Happy New Year to you too! πŸ™‚

  • Reply NKOTB December 31, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    Happy New Year to you… came to your little corner by an accident last nite. Since then am thrilled and excited to see your posts and your photos.
    And thanks for sharing such beautiful recipes… oh yes, like your self intro !! It was absolutely funny and amazed me very much!!

    • Reply Che-Cheh January 1, 2012 at 8:45 pm

      Hi, thanks for enjoying my posts and photos. Glad you like my self intro. Kekeke

  • Reply zenchef January 1, 2012 at 1:57 am

    Hello! Terrific post!
    I would like to link to it on Zenspotting. Would that be okay?

    • Reply Che-Cheh January 1, 2012 at 8:47 pm

      Hi, Happy New Year and thank you.
      Yes I would love to. Cheers!

  • Reply foongpc January 2, 2012 at 2:00 am

    Wow! When are you sending one bottle of kimchi to me? : )

    • Reply Che-Cheh January 2, 2012 at 4:09 pm

      Too late all finish. πŸ˜›

  • Reply Che-Cheh January 2, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    Hi Hale, I’m not sure of the brand as it’s written in Korean. Non-spicy kimchi is called baek kimchi. You can google for the recipe as its ingredient is a little different from β€˜spicy’ kimchi.

  • Reply Emma January 4, 2012 at 12:37 am

    Love the photographs that go with your post – your kimchi looks so colourful and vibrant! I tried making my first ever batch of kimchi this winter too and definitely over-salted the cabbage. I think I overdid the shrimp paste too, and I can hardly bring myself to eat it (though hubby is ploughing through it valiantly!) It’s interesting that your recipe had the rice porridge bit, none of the recipes I researched had anything like that in it….I wonder what it contributes to the recipe?

    • Reply Che-Cheh January 4, 2012 at 10:37 am

      Hi Emma, thank you πŸ™‚
      Guess we’ll have better luck next time.
      According to Maangchi, the use of porridge is to enhance the mixing of the kimchi paste so that the paste is less thick. Some recipes use rice or pear instead of porridge.

  • Reply Purabi Naha January 8, 2012 at 11:41 pm

    I had been searching for a good recipe for a long time! I am a lover of Kimchi…absolutely loved your post!

  • Reply Tasting Korea January 29, 2012 at 2:35 am

    I would leave out the Vietnamese fish sauce next time. It’s different from Korean salted shrimp which is normally used for this recipe.

    • Reply Che-Cheh January 31, 2012 at 3:26 pm

      Oh yes, I will use Korean salted shrimp next time. Thanks! πŸ™‚

  • Reply Jay January 1, 2014 at 7:02 am

    I stumbled upon this seriously easy recipe (modified without fish sauce) from a caucasian Kimchi afficianado. Her recipe came really close to the original; I think her variation is also less expensive πŸ™‚ please use kosher salt to reduce the oversalting

  • Reply Sarah December 15, 2020 at 5:53 pm

    The aftertaste is probably from daikon.

    • Reply Che-Cheh December 15, 2020 at 6:43 pm

      Hi Sarah, I’m not sure because I made quite a many batches of kimchi afterthat and most of them had that ‘aftertaste’ which is like CO2 fizzing.

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