Who doesn't love a little funky fermentation in their life? If you've ever had kimchi and loved it, and wondered at how it's made, wonder no more: it's surprisingly easy to make at home. Alright, it takes a couple special ingredients, and it takes a tiny bit of prep work, but it also means you can brag about making your own stinky joy at home. Did I mention it's stinky? Just use air-tight containers and you'll be fine.
This makes a smallish batch of kimchi (I didn't weigh it; it fills two four-cup containers comfortably), but feel free to double/triple/etc. Heavily adapted from Maangchi.
1 head Napa cabbage (approx 2.5 lbs)
1/4 c sea salt or Kosher salt
3/4 c water
1/8 c glutinous rice flour/sweet rice flour/mochiko
1 Tbsp coconut palm sugar (or natural sweetener of your choice--honey, maple syrup, cane sugar)
1/3 c fish sauce
10 Tbsp gochugaru (Korean hot pepper flakes; cannot substitute with regular hot pepper flakes)
1/4 c garlic
1/2 Tbsp grated ginger
1/4 c onion
1 bunch green onions/scallions
1/2 of 1 large daikon radish
1/2 of 1 large carrot
1) Remove or trim any damaged leaves from the cabbage. Cut into quarters; remove entire core. Slice at approx. 1" intervals. Place into very large bowl; cover with cold water to rinse. Remove cabbage (leaving behind any grit in the water) but don't dry it. Rinse out the bowl. Put the cabbage back in it, combine evenly with the salt. Set a timer. Every 30 minutes, mix the cabbage around with your hand to mix well with the salt. Do this 3 times, for a total salting time of 1.5 hours. (You can feel free to put together the rest of the recipe while the cabbage is salting!)
2) After 1.5 hours, fill the bowl up completely with cold water. Swirl around with your hand; drain the water off. Repeat 3 times, for four total rinses. Make sure you get as much of the water as possible on the last drain, without needing to drain the cabbage on a colander. It should still be pretty damp. (For saltier kimchi: do 2-3 rinses only. For less salty kimchi: 4-5. I find that four is not very salty at all, once the fermentation is complete.)
3) Make porridge: combine 3/4 c water with 1/8 c glutinous rice flour in a small pot (I used an aluminum camping mug). Mix well; bring to a boil. Stir until bubbles appear, then add in sugar. Don't use a substitute sweetener (Stevia, Xylitol, etc). Cane sugar is best, but coconut palm sugar, maple syrup, honey, etc will all work just fine. Lower heat. Cook until porridge is translucent, about 3-4 more minutes. Set aside to cool.
4) Make kimchi paste: In a large bowl, combine fish sauce, gochugaru, garlic, ginger, minced onion, peeled and shredded (or julienne) daikon, peeled and shredded (or julienne) carrot. Add in your cooled porridge; combine well. Wash your scallions. Cut off the bulb ends, trim any dry ends at the top. Cut scallions twice, into three approx 3" pieces. Cut each section lengthwise in half. Mix into your kimchi paste gently.
5) Combine your kimchi paste with your cabbage; I use a glove for this step (or your hand will smell like garlic, fish sauce, and spicy chili--sexy). Mix very thoroughly.
6) Place into air-tight locking containers (Lock'n'Lock, glass jars, or glass containers with an air-tight plastic lid). You can technically eat right away, but I like to let it ferment. Leave on counter for two-three days; once a day, use a CLEAN spoon to gently stir, and then press down so all the kimchi is covered by liquid (optional, but fun). After 2-3 days, you will have gently fermented kimchi. For a stronger taste, leave out to ferment longer, or put in the fridge to slow the fermentation process. Kimchi never really goes "bad", but very strong kimchi is sour and is best used in soups or when fried with fatty meat, like pork belly.