What are some good additions/modifications to a vegan kimchi recipe?
September 4, 2018 1:03 PM   Subscribe

I am going to be making some batches of the Serious Eats kimchi recipe. Any ideas of ways I can mix it up, or different kimchi recipes to try? The only limitation is the recipe has to be vegetarian. Please let me know what to add/change/remove, and any changes to the prep. Thanks!
posted by andoatnp to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Maangchi has a whole bunch of kimchi recipes to try out.
posted by tobascodagama at 1:06 PM on September 4, 2018 [3 favorites]

I really like that recipe.

I often add shredded carrot as well, and/or some bok choy. I also like adding some grated fresh turmeric root to kimchi, because it makes it (and, fair warning, everything else it touches) a pretty colour, and it's supposed to be super good for you as well.
posted by ITheCosmos at 1:07 PM on September 4, 2018

I've often made kim chee and sauerkraut out of red cabbage, and I used to add a small shredded beet to the recipe to produce an even more vibrant red color.
Also seconding the turmeric suggestion.
posted by twoplussix at 1:22 PM on September 4, 2018

I really like a bit of tart green apple in kimchi. This recipe is good.
posted by halation at 1:34 PM on September 4, 2018

I have made that recipe except with collard greens. It was fantastic.
posted by ftm at 1:34 PM on September 4, 2018

I have used Maangchi's Traditional Napa Cabbage Kimchi recipe a number of times. It makes about two heads of cabbage, so twice what the Serious Eats recipe uses. I think that her base with the chili and the rice flour thickener works really well (swapping the fermented shrimp and fish sauce for miso paste) and I really like the carrot pieces in it.

The Serious Eats recipe doesn't rinse the cabbage after the wilting phase, which is strange. I would rinse it or else it will be quite salty. I also leave mine out to ferment for longer than just a day (I've figured out that five days is optimal for the funkiness I enjoy) and I cover it with a cloth and elastic rather than a mason jar lid because it releases gas and the jar could crack/explode from the pressure.

Finally: WEAR GLOVES for the mixing stage. Seriously. That chili powder will stain your hands forever.
posted by urbanlenny at 1:38 PM on September 4, 2018 [2 favorites]

You can also use green cabbage. On the plus side, if you combine some of the advice above, you won't be able to see the turmeric stains on your counter, they'll be hidden by the red cabbage stains. I'm not saying don't do it, these are all delicious suggestions!

Nthing carrot and bok choy, and adding yellow onion, fennel, and red radish as proven fun options. Have been meaning to try green beans but haven't gotten around to it yet.

I don't usually rinse the cabbage post-salting either, FWIW. Haven't yet had a brine be too salty once it's dilute enough to cover everything in the jar.
posted by solotoro at 1:50 PM on September 4, 2018

YMMV on how salty you like your kimchi, I guess. I forgot to rinse the brine the first time I made Maangchi's tongbaechu, and the result was definitely not to my taste. I mean, I still ate the whole batch with gusto, because there's no amount of salt that can overpower all that spicy goodness, but the second batch I made where I remembered to rinse the salt was much better.
posted by tobascodagama at 2:04 PM on September 4, 2018

Pineapple. You’re welcome.
posted by gnutron at 2:22 PM on September 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

Oh, whoops, I missed the "must be vegetarian" requirement. Maangchi's tongbaechu recipe definitely is not, although you could probably just substitute the fermented shrimp and fish sauce with miso paste, as in the Serious Eats recipe.
posted by tobascodagama at 2:56 PM on September 4, 2018

I've also made Maangchi's kimchi recipe that urbanlenny posted, but to vegan-ize it I mixed around a half teaspoon of kelp powder into ~1/4 cup of hot water to replace the shrimp & fish sauce.

I agree with leaving it to ferment longer than a day (we also do around 5 days). I use mason jars but "burp" the lids daily. Gas tends to build up within the middle of the bottle, so I usually poke them with chopsticks and tamp down the top with an old espresso press, too. I find it gets a little fizzier after being in the fridge for a few days.

Also highly recommend watching her video!
posted by Paper rabies at 4:05 PM on September 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

Here's a recipe for Kimchi from a Korean Temple Cuisine cookbook.
Persimmon Cabbage Kimchi
5 Heads of Cabbage
2 Hachiya Persimmons
4 Fuyu Persimmons
½ Bunch of Red Mustard Greens
1 Knob of Ginger
1 Cup Gochugaru/ Red Pepper Powder
2 Cups Dried Chili Pepper Flakes
⅓ Tbsp Soy Sauce
Coarse Salt, as needed
Glutinous Rice Porridge:
½ Cup Glutinous Rice
10cm Piece of Kelp
5 Cups Water
1. Cabbages with yellow leaves are bland so choose cabbages that are green on the outside and white in the middle. Cut the cabbages in half and then slice half way through the thick bottom parts of the cabbage.
2. Add salt to water in a 1:5 ratio of salt to water. Dip the cabbages in the water and then apply salt to the thick stems. Let the cabbages pickle for five to six hours. Thoroughly rinse the leaves and allow them to drain.
3. Remove the seeds from the hachiya persimmons and mash the pulp. Peel the fuyu persimmons and cut them in half. Wash the red mustard leaves and cut them into 3-4cm lengths. Wash and peel the ginger before mincing it.
4. Cut the radish into thick strips and mix with the gochugaru.
5. Boil glutinous rice, kelp and water together until it makes a paste.
6. Once the glutinous rice flour paste has cooled, add the dried chili peppers, mashed hachiya persimmons, minced ginger, soy sauce and salt.
7. Add the sliced radish to the rice flour paste and mix thoroughly. Finally, add the red mustard greens.
8. Apply the glutinous rice paste to the cabbages leaves. Put the cabbages into a pot to ferment. Layering the fuyu persimmons between the cabbages.
posted by FakePalindrome at 4:34 PM on September 4, 2018 [2 favorites]

Hi! I've taken lessons from my wife's Korean family and we have made our own kimchi including, at times, from napa cabbage we grew in our own garden. Here are some thoughts.

Bottom line is that I would come up with the simplest "baseline" recipe that you can, and then explore from there. As you'll see I don't fully agree with this recipe as a baseline.

First, as to the recipe. I'm not a vegetarian and I do think that fish sauce and/or shrimp paste contribute significantly to the taste of (some) kimchi. That said, the Serious Eats idea of substituting in some miso to get some of those flavors is interesting and might just work. I think the daikon radish and ginger are not right for basic baechu (napa cabbage) kimchi. There is an entire field of radish-based kimchi, with many variations; if you want one of those, do it all the way and don't mix it up with baechu kimchi. Also ginger is... not that prominent in most Korean cuisine, and is definitely not necessary in kimchi. You're basically trying to replace the savory flavor from the fish, and the aromatics are not helping you with that. Same goes for the recommendations in this thread for carrot, apple, pineapple, persimmon, etc. At least in the basic recipe. Oh! One way to make the flavor more complex would be to toast a portion of the gochu garu (pepper flakes), either in a dry pan or with just a bit of sesame oil, before you add them to the cabbage.

Anyway, on to procedure. The very very traditional way is to start with the whole cabbage and slice it in quarters length wise - similar to how you would for a salad wedge. Rub salt in between all the leaves - still held together at the base - and leave it in a bowl for a few hours until the leaves are quite wilted and there's a fair amount of liquid in the bowl. Drain the salty liquid and, I agree, rinse the wilted leaves. Then using the same approach, rub in the gochu garu, garlic, miso, and whatever else. This is easy when it's powder and I'm not sure how the miso would work, but I guess its doable. Place into a sanitized jar and let it go for at least a week. To prevent rot, you might want to top it off with brine, but if so, don't do it "to taste"; use an ounce of salt per quart of water to prepare the brine, then add just to the surface of the kimchi. Cover loosely because it will vent CO2. After a week or two, put it in the fridge where it will continue to ferment, albeit much more slowly. Tastes best at least a week after that.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 6:20 PM on September 4, 2018 [2 favorites]

Seconding green apple or pineapple. Pear is also really good too.
posted by bluebelle at 7:49 PM on September 4, 2018

Thirding apple very finely minced or run through a food processor or a cup of pineapple juice. Most recently I've been partial to adding a large white onion run through a food processor.

I also like to add green onions to my kimchi. I cut the green part into about 2-3 inch pieces and then the white part I cut in half. I do not pickle this in the salt water, I just add it during the mixing process with the chili powder.

I don't use daikon with napa cabbage. Daikon alone as kimchi is totally a thing and so is napa cabbage. Mixing the two is not common and unnecessary as I don't think it would add much to the flavor (but if you really want to use it, I would grate the daikon, not cut into chunks). I personally love daikon kimchi in a non-spicy version (dongchimi), it's soooo refreshing and the traditional recipe is vegetarian.

I personally make 2 large jars and leave one out of the fridge for 2-3 days to quicken the fermentation process and pop the other one in the fridge right away. This balance works for me, it gives me some kimchi I can eat in about 5 days and then the rest continues to ferment more slowly so it's ready when the first jar is done. Of course, super fermented kimchi is not a problem, because then you can make kimchi stew, kimchi pancakes, etc... yummmmm!

I am also really surprised they don't advise to rinse the veg after pickling in salted water. That sounds very salty to me. I've never not rinsed, it's a mandatory step in the way my mom taught me how to make kimchi.

The super traditional way with napa cabbage is indeed to cut the cabbage into quarters lengthwise. Then you pack the seasoning ingredients in between the leaves before you pack it into the jars. However, this is a much messier process and when you serve you have to take out a whole quarter and cut it up, also messy. I always make it using the cabbage chopped up into about 2x2 inch pieces. This process results in what is referred to as mat kimchi. My mom thinks the other way is tastier. Maybe? I can't tell enough of a difference to sacrifice convenience.

When you pack into jars, leave a couple of inches at the top. The cabbage will further release liquid and if you overpack it, it will overflow and trust me you don't want kimchi juice over your counters or in your fridge. I've never 'burped' my jars.

When you serve kimchi, do not eat it straight out of the jar. Use clean chopsticks to take out however much you want to serve from the jar. Do a quick pack down of what's left in the jar and return to the fridge.

Seconding gloves for the mixing process! Also make sure your mixing area is well ventilated. The mixture of onions and chilli powder had me crying one time and I couldn't do anything about it because my gloved hands were covered in seasoning. I like to think that batch was tastier for the tears I added.
posted by like_neon at 3:09 AM on September 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

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