Kimchi is a saturated bright red color, a pungent aroma with hints of garlic and ginger, a crunchy texture and a succession of spicy, sour and sweet tastes.
Cut the cabbage lengthwise in half, then cut the halves crosswise into 1-inch-wide pieces. Toss the cabbage with the salt and 2 tablespoons of the sugar in a bowl. Let sit overnight in the refrigerator.
Combine the garlic, ginger, chile powder, fish sauce, soy sauce, water, shrimp (if using), and remaining ¼ cup sugar in a large bowl. Stir in the green onions, carrots and pear.
Drain the cabbage (don’t rinse it) and add it to the brine. Mix everything thoroughly using your fingers if necessary to make sure each and every single cabbage piece is coated with the brine. Put your kimchi in a jar (fits tightly in a half-gallon Mason jar) and refrigerate. The kimchi will be tasty after 24 hours, but it will be better in a week and at its prime in 2 weeks, when it takes on a prickly mouthfeel, like the feeling of letting the bubbles in a soft drink pop on your tongue. It will still be good for another couple weeks after that, though it will grow incrementally stronger and, according to Chang, “funkier.”
Adapted from David Chang’s Momofuku.
The original recipe calls for “jarred salted shrimp” which I wasn’t able to order online in Canada. They accelerate the fermenting process and undoubtedly add flavor. I found many recipes without shrimp so I made my kimchi anyway and it turned out delicious. Do add them if you can find them, you’ll get closer to authenticity.
I substituted ½ cup julienned Asian pear, a fruit that is commonly added to kimchi, for some of the sugar in Chang’s recipe. I found that the delicate pear taste mellows the powerful garlic and ginger flavors a bit.
Recipe by Food Nouveau at http://foodnouveau.com/destinations/asia/south-korea/i-heart-kimchi/