Japanese Kimchi


You’re probably wondering why you’re seeing a recipe for kimchi on a Japanese food blog, but Japanese people their love Korean food. Yes, the politics are hazy at times, but there’s no doubt that Korean food is a favorite in Japan. In Osaka, there is a large Korean community and many authentic Korean restaurants.

My office threw my welcome party at a Yakinikuya in Tsuruhashi, which is a district in Osaka known for their Korean food. Many items are catered to Japanese tastes but it’s still pretty close. Chinese food in Japan on the other hand is way off from the real thing. Anyway I digress. Kimchi is very popular and you can find it at any grocery store or combini (convenience store) in Japan.

This is the easy Japanese version of kimchee…at least it’s how most Japanese people make it…at least it’s how I think they make it…actually it’s how my mom makes it and she’s Japanese so I equate that as being Japanese.

half of a medium hakusai (0.3 lbs)
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. kosher salt
2 tbsp. dried chili powder
3 tbsp. kimuchi no moto (kimchee base)*
2 anchovy fillets
1 tsp. grated garlic

1) Cut the hakusai in half and cut out the core.
2) Flip over and cut into 4 equal sections.
3) Wash and spin the hakusai in a salad spinner.
4) Put the hakusai into the largest bowl you have, add the sugar and salt and mix well without breaking any of the leaves.
5) Let the hakusai wilt and shrink down. I usually leave it for about 30 minutes to an hour.
6) Once it has shrunk down, transfer it to a tsukemono maker if you have one or put a heavy plate on top and a weight on top of that to press down on the hakusai.*You want the water to come out of the hakusai. Tip: The hakusai shouldn’t be salty like tsukemono because this recipe calls for the Momoya Kimchee base which is very salty and sardines that add a lot of salt. I use sugar here to help the salt wilt the hakusai.
7) Refrigerate overnight or a several hours until all the water is covering the hakusai.
8) The hakusai is ready when the water is covering the hakusai.
9) Squeeze out the water and put in a bowl.
10) In a separate bowl, mix the chili powder, kimchee base, sardines and garlic. You might want to chop up the sardines a little before so they break up easily but they will fall apart pretty easily.
11) Add the sauce to the hakusai and mix well. Use gloves and mix with your hand (otherwise the chili will burn your skin) or I used a wooden spoon.
12) Put in a glass jar or container and allow to sit at room temperature for 2-3 days.

Cut the hakusai in half, lengthwise.

Cut the core out.
Kimchee_take out the core

Chop into 4 even sections.
Kimchee_cut hakusai

Mix in the sugar and salt and mix without breaking the leaves.
Kimchee_Add sugar and salt

After sitting, the hakusai will wilt down like this.
Kimchee_wilted hakusai

Put into a tsukemono maker to wilt it down even further or substitute by putting a heavy bowl or plate on top and a weight on top of that.
Kimchee_put in a tsukemono maker

The hakusai is ready to be spiced up.
Kimchee_Hakusai is ready

Here’s another view of the hakusai. The water comes up to the top of the hakusai.
Kimchee_Hakusai is ready2

Squeeze out the water and place into a bowl.
Kimchee_squeeze out the water

I like this brand of kimchi base. It’s on the salty side so that’s why I use sugar to salt the hakusai.
Kimchee_Kimuchi no moto

Add the garlic, anchovies, kimchee base and chili powder to a bowl.
Kimchee_sauce ingredients

Mix the ingredients well.
Kimchee_mix sauce

Add the kimchee sauce to the hakusai and place kimchee into a glass jar or container.
Kimchee_into a glass container

Cover and allow to sit at room temperature for 2-3 days.
Kimchee_cover with plastic wrap

Two days later the kimchee is ready to be stored in the fridge.
Kimchee_two days later

4 days later the kimchi is slightly fermented and ooooh so tasty.

Serve with: Yakiniku, Kimchi, Soy Bean Soup and Rice.
BAM 33

Naomi Kuwabara
Naomi Kuwabara was born and raised in California but spent many summers in Japan growing up. She has spent time living in Hokkaido and Osaka, both meccas for Japanese cuisine. Her passion is cooking and sharing her experiences cooking Japanese food with others. Her blog Umamitopia is about her experiences cooking Japanese food. Her greatest inspirations are from her mother and grandmother. Her cooking adventures can be found at http://umamitopia.com.
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