I’ve been making vegan kimchi for several years now. During my “year of fermentation” I tried several different variations and kept the basic recipe in my head. This worked fine until I made a huge batch… and didn’t make it again for about six months. I realized I needed to keep track of it for myself, plus several friends asked how I made it.
There are at least two techniques for making kimchi. Since I came to it from making sauerkraut, my technique draws heavily from that tradition. This recipe is based on weights. The vegetables are all “baker weight”-style based off the weight of the cabbage. I give the percentage and an example, but don’t think you need to use 2kg of cabbage. Whatever weight of cabbage you have will work fine, just adjust the other ingredients accordingly.
- Cabbage: 100% (eg 2000g)
- Carrot: 12.5% (eg 250g)
- Radish: 2% (eg 40g)
- Green onion: 2% (eg 40g)
- Garlic: 0.7% (eg 14g)
- Ginger: 0.35% (eg 7g)
Sometimes I add other vegetables or leave out the radish/green onion. Once you have all the veg going into it, chop or shred these and put them in a large bowl. Start mashing them to release some of their liquid. After those are combined, add the salt and gochugaru. Again based on weight, but this time the total weight of all of the above (2351g):
- Salt = 2% (eg 47g)
- Gochugaru = 0.4% (eg 9g) – This was the most challenging ingredient to find. I got the one pound bag from Wang Korea. Near Seattle, it’s available at Uwajimaya and DK Market
Mix in the salt and gochugaru, keep mixing and mashing. Eventually you want enough liquid to completely cover all the vegetables while they are in a fermentation vessel. This could be something fancy and specifically designed for fermenting in or something simple. I used to use large jars with a ziplock bag filled with saltwater on top to hold down the vegetables. Later I found these lids and springs which make fermenting much easier. I discussed these and show photos of them in use on the fermented hot sauce post.
Once there’s enough liquid to cover the vegetables, let it sit in a dark cupboard for a week or two to ferment. If you have some sauerkraut or kimchi already, pouring a little of the brine can help kick start the fermentation, but isn’t needed. You will smell it after a couple of days. Let it continue to ferment. Try it after about a week and see how the flavor is. If it’s good, move it to the fridge at that point, otherwise let it ferment longer.
Occasionally, you’ll get something growing on the surface while its fermenting. There shouldn’t be any fuzzy growth. If there is, compost it and start over. You might also see small matte white areas. As long as it’s not fuzzy, it’s probably kahm yeast which can simply be removed. It doesn’t harm the kimchi.
If you try it, let me know how it goes and whether you add any other vegetables. Enjoy and happy fermenting.