Napa Cabbage and Cucumber Kimchi
“Traditional kimchi is made with napa cabbage, and there is another type made with just cucumbers, but to get the best of both worlds I decided to combine them here.”
for the basic mix:
2 tablespoons sweet (or glutinous) rice flour
1 large red bell pepper, stem removed but ribs and seeds left on
½ medium Fuji apple or Asian pear, peeled and cored
1 ½ tablespoons salted fermented shrimp (or fish sauce)
3 tablespoons minced garlic
3 tablespoons minced ginger
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes)
1 ½ tablespoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
6 scallions, finely chopped
for the kimchi:
1 head Napa cabbage (about ½ pound), cut into quarters lengthwise
12 Persian or Kirby cucumbers, cut into ¾-inch-thick slices
1 cup roughly chopped watercress, stems included
2 cups roughly chopped red mustard leaves, stems included
12 scallions, cut into 1-inch-long pieces
2 bunches garlic chives, roughly chopped
1 cup coarse salt
1. First, make the basic kimchi mix. Bring ½ cup of water to a simmer in a small saucepan and slowly whisk in the rice flour (whisk vigorously the entire time to make sure the flour doesn’t clump). Remove from the heat and let cool.
2. Meanwhile, blitz the bell pepper and Fuji apple in a powerful blender or food processor until smooth. Remove to a bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Stir in the cooled water/flour mixture and whisk to combine. Use immediately or cover and let sit in the fridge for at least 1 hour for a fuller, redder color.
3. To make the kimchi, dissolve 6 tablespoons of salt in a large bowl with 5 1/4 cups of warm water. Dunk the cabbage and cucumbers in the water and squeeze out any excess liquid.
4. Transfer the cabbage and cucumbers to another large bowl. Spread the remaining salt between each cabbage leaf and all over the cucumbers. Cover the salted cabbage and cucumbers with a weighted object and let sit for 6 hours, rotating the veggies every 2 hours.
5. In another medium-sized bowl, combine the basic kimchi mixture with the remaining ingredients and mix well (gloved hands work best for this) to make a relish. Set aside until the cabbage and cucumbers are ready. Rinse cabbage and cucumbers well (at least three times), squeeze out any excess water, and return to the large bowl.
6. Spread the relish mixture in between each cabbage leaf, distributing it as evenly as possible. Fold the cabbage leaves into themselves, tightly. Coat cucumber slices well with relish mixture.
7. Pack the kimchi tightly into the fermentation crock and let sit at room temperature for 2-3 days in a cool, dry place. If a more fermented (sour) taste is desired, leave in the crock for 4-5 days.
8. When the kimchi has reached your desired level of fermentation (i.e. funk), move it to the refrigerator. It will keep in the fridge for up to 4 weeks, continuing to slowly ferment as it sits.