It's really a conceptual rush to be making what appears to be a 3,000 - 4,000 year old recipe (or technique, if you will). Last night I started my 4th kimchi effort. The first two weren't bad, but combining the techniques of one recipe with the ingredients of the other, made for a superb batch that, after 7 days of lacto-fermentation, come out astoundingly well.
For years, I've wanted to make sauerkraut and kimchi, and only in the past couple of months did I have the homegrown ingredients, time, patience, and "wherewithall" to tackle them. The process of non-yeast fermentation can been seen in most cultures, I had read so many testmonies to it's nutritional benefits, plus how easy and incredibly tasteful such products can be.
I'd grown a lot of cabbage. Making sauerkraut is as simple as this: salt and cabbage (and there variations using other vegetables, spices, etc.). There are many recipes on the web, but essentially you just cut up cabbage, pound/mix it with salt until enough water is released to cover it, store, skim off the "bloom" daily, and wait two to six weeks (or more). It's is unbelievable in taste, and I'll never buy the canned pasteurized stuff again. It's like the difference between store bought and heirloom tomato, the later being light years further in taste (and probably nutritional profile).
There are some 180+ documented Kimchi recipes, some seasonal, some with different vegetables. I opted for one with Chinese Cabbage (we call it "Napa" and I still have an incredible and hearty crop of them, as well as two kinds of Pak Choi, and Tat Soi growing even with snow and ice last week!). After cutting up and soaking the cabbage for around 12 hours in a 3 gallon crock, I drained it all, saved the brine, and then added (per this recipe) 3x the amount (as I'm using over 6 lbs of cabbage): spring onions, jalapenos, ginger, garlic, sugar, crushed red pepper flakes, no additional salt, some chili powder (no Korean hot pepper poweder nearby), enough water to cover, and mix thoroughly.
Now I'll be stirring it once or twice a day, adjust flavor if need (may add some additional chopped Pak Choi... my mixture is pretty strong right now), and when I get the "sourness" to the level I prefer, jar, put in 'frig (water or pressure canning would take out some of the beneficial microbes/nutrition/whatever). Five to seven days! It keeps for several months.
Here's photos (not all that great) of the kimchi first batch "nekkid," bottled, and then two images of my Pak Choi babies (click on thumbnails for larger images, all ©2009, by Mark Sutton):
Anyway, I urge everyone to look into lacto-fermention (it's raw and no added fat!). So easy, especially with a food processor if you need to shred or dice. The most recommended book on the topic, btw, is "Wild Fermention." I haven't gotten my copy yet, but it's gotten quite a word-of-mouth buzz... almost as good as the buzz that comes from eating homemade sauerkraut and kimchi...