Frugal Ferments: Napa Cabbage (Baechu) Kimchi

I’m a big kimchi fan, but I usually make kkakdugi. When I recently had the opportunity to acquire Napa cabbage for a big discount, I jumped on it – and made baechu kimchi!

Once again, my local Asian grocery came through with a huge bag of Napa cabbage leaves for $.99. These are the outer leaves removed from the cabbages when they arrive, sometimes damaged during shipping. They looked usable, so I popped them into my cart. Even if they weren’t suitable for fermenting, I knew the pigs would enjoy them.

When I got home, I weighed the bag and realized that it contained almost 5 pounds of cabbage! That’s roughly $.20/pound.

Foregoing the cabbage halves (pre-sliced for convenience) meant extra work rinsing each individual leaf, inspecting it, and removing damaged parts. Fortunately, the damage was limited to a few minor cuts and scrapes, easily excised, and a couple of wilted leaves; overall, it was in great shape.

Since the cabbage was in individual leaves already, I just chopped them into ribbons (which I would have done later, anyway) from the beginning, then salted them. After salting, they were left to wilt.

As the cabbage was wilting, I prepared the spice mix. I modified the recipe slightly to fit the ingredients I had on hand, subbing cornstarch for the sweet rice flour and extra fish sauce for the fermented salted shrimp.

Before…

Once the cabbage was wilted, I rinsed the salt off well and mixed in the spice “sauce”.

…and after!

As a rule, I like to mix kimchi with my hands, but since this was a very spicy version, would recommend using gloves to do it – my hands were tingly for hours afterward. The final step was to pack into jars, let it ferment at room temperature for a couple of days, then enjoy. And I did!

Looking for new ways to enjoy kimchi? Why not try it on a burger or in a burger wrap? You’ll wonder why you didn’t try it sooner!