Kimchi is nice because you can mix up a bowl of it and then let it set for just a day or two before the, uh, aroma completely takes over the house. The ingredients are easily obtained and the preparation isn't complicated or lengthy. You can also make this as authentic as you want by trying to obtain the ingredients, but I would just start with the simple stuff.
Remember, kimchi is the food of the everyman, so don't get fussy and don't expect a specific recipe. You're basically adding salt and flavorings to cabbage and letting it sit for a couple of days, so don't stress out about not having the right stuff. You only really need chinese cabbage (bok choy or pak choy), salt, garlic, ginger and chili powder or paste. You can add daikon radish, carrots, fish sauce and green onions if you need more authenticity.
- 1 kg head cabbage
- 3 tbsp kosher salt
- 2-4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp minced fresh ginger
- Korean chili powder or chili paste to taste (2 tbsp or more for a big cabbage)
Quarter and core the cabbage and then chop into 1/2 - 3/4 inch wide pieces. Put the cabbage in a large container and sprinkle with half of the salt. Toss the cabbage with your hands for about two minutes, working the salt into the leaves. Add the rest of the salt and repeat. Let stand about an hour. You should have a bowl of slightly withered cabbage with liquid on bottom. If you want a more juicy kimchi leave it, otherwise pour out most of it. Add the rest of the ingredients, stir to combine and cover the container with plastic wrap. Leave the container in a cool place for 1-4 days (depending on how, uh, pungent you like your kimchee). Put in sterilized containers and keep in the fridge indefinitely.
You can add some of the optional ingredients from above (1+ cup shredded carrot, 1+ cup shredded daikon radish, sugar (to taste),fish sauce (to taste - start with 2 tsp) and even dried shrimp if you want) for a more authentic flavor. I have to say, considering the price and the ease of creation, I'll probably never buy kimchi again.
The kimchi will become more lively with age, so if it gets a bit much for an appetizer, consider making kimchi jigae or kimchi stew.
That is, if your sensitive Minnesotan sensibilities can handle it...