Following the Korean recipe, the Chinese cabbages are cut in two, length ways. The hard base is split in two in order to allow cell juices to flow.
First salting (or immersion in brine) is used to draw the juice and sugars out of the cells and soften the texture of the leaves.
Secondly, the actual fermentation can begin. There are numerous versions of the traditional recipe, depending on whether or not chili powder (gochugaru in Korean) is used and what other ingredients are used to stuff the cabbage. In this case I have used julienned daikon, thinly sliced spring onions, chopped garlic and ginger, salted prawns, pear juice, salt and sugar.
The ‘stuffed’ half cabbages are packed into an earthenware jar. Best are the sauerkraut water-sealed crocks. Keep in mind that these fermentations are best done in an anaerobic environment in which the lactic-acid bacteria can thrive.
The whole mixture is covered with large cabbage leaves, sprinkled with coarse salt.
My kimchi is ready after 7 days’ fermentation, but it continues to improve over time, even if the enzymatic activity decreases.