Cabbage Kimchee or Kimchi

(배추김치, Baechoo Kimchee)

makes 8 cabbage quarters

For the soaking

2 whole nappa cabbage (about 5 lb or 2.3 kg each)

3 cups Korean coarse sea salt plus 1 cup more for sprinkling

30 cups water

For the rice glue

a handful of each dried anchovy, shrimp, kelp, and Pollock fish

3 cups water

2 Tbsp sweet, glutenous rice flour

For the filling

1 Korean radish (about 3 lb or 1kg) sliced thin and julienne to 1/8" sticks

2 bunch green onion, cut into 1 1/2" long both white and green

4 cups Korean red chili flakes

1/2 large onion roughly diced

10 cloves garlic

2" piece ginger peeled and roughly chopped

4 Tbsp anchovy sauce

4 Tbsp shrimp sauce (salted shrimp)

1 1/2 Tbsp sugar

2 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds

For the soaking;

Remove the most rough outer leaves (about 2-3 leaves) from each cabbage, set aside. Give a 2"

slit to the stem part of cabbage, open up and rinse them. You can give another 2" slit on the center stem part of the cabbage halves.

Sprinkle some salt onto the white stem part of each leaf of the cabbage, make sure you salt each and reach to the tip of the stem. Be careful not to break the leaf. In a deep large container dissolve 3 cups of salt with 30 cups of water. Place the cabbage facing up and press them down so the solution will sip through each layer. It is okay if your cabbages are not completely immersed in the solution at this point.

Cover the cabbage halves with the reserved green leaves, put plastic cover, and place something heavy on top. Let it soak for 8 hours, turn the cabbages to the other side, place the covers and heavy item back to push down, let it soak for another 4 hours. After 12 hours, try to bend the stem part of each cabbage. If they are willing to bend,  it is done. If not, Sprinkle a little more salt on the stem part and soak for 2 more hours.

Remove the cabbages and the rough leaves from the solution and rinse 3 times. Cut the cabbage laves into another half. This will make 8 cabbage quarters. Drain the cabbages in the colander or basket for at least 2 hours so the water will drain out thoroughly. You can cover them with a large bowl or plastic to prevent them from drying out during this step.

For the rice glue;

Bring to boil water with dried seafood in a pot, covered. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let it sit for 20 minutes to intensify the stock. Strain the stock and reserve 2 cups.

In a small pot, whisk 1 1/2 cup of stock with rice flour, bring to boil whisking continuously until it gets bubbly and thickened. Let it cool. Reserve 1/2 cup of the stock for other use later.

For the filling;

In a blender puree onion, garlic, ginger and the reserved 1/2 cup of seafood stock until smooth.

Pour chili flakes in a large mixing bowl, add the garlic mixture puree and the cooled rice glue, anchovy sauce, shrimp sauce, sugar, sesame seeds. Mix well.

Add sliced radish and the green onion to the chili mixture and mix again. It will look like mostly radish and green onion at this point. Let them sit for 30 minutes so the radish will extract their moisture and get wilted. Your filling should be spreadable consistency. You can adjust with more stock in case your filling seems too thick.

Break a little piece from cabbage,  put a little bit of chili filling and taste to see if it is seasoned right. You might need more fish sauce or salt depends on the sodium level in the soaked cabbage.

For the assembly;

You will need large shallow mixing bowl to do this job.

Hold the cabbage quarter upward with your left hand and release the outside leaf to be flat in the bowl. With you right hand take some of the chili filling and spread all over the leaf, put down another layer one at a time and repeat. Don't put too much of filling on each leaf, just enough to cover. When all the layers are spread with chili filling, fold the leafy part of the cabbage toward the stem holding them together and wrap with the reserved rough green leaves tightly. Place each cabbage quarters in the air tight container. Add 1 cup of water to the mixing bowl and swirl around to rinse the filling residue in the bowl, pour it over the cabbage in the container. Seal the container and let it sit in a room temperature for 1-2 days depends on the room temperature or the fermentation level you desire. Keep your Kimchee in the fridge after that. It can store for several month to enjoy.

Note: The filling amount is perhaps more than enough for 2 heads of cabbages. I always keep the leftover in the fridge and make Bean Sprout Kimchee with it.