Here it is!!! At last!!! My fabulous Gluten-Free Vegan Kimchi recipe.
This Gluten-Free Vegan Kimchi recipe is AMAZING – and it’s so easy and delicious you will never have kimchi-envy ever again. I had been searching for vegan Kimchi for what seemed like ever. Although you can easily buy kimchi, I could not find any (without fishy things or gluten) in the Asian supermarkets near where I live. I found some gluten-free vegan kimchi in health food shops, but at £7+ a pop I was not going to take the risk of it tasting awful. So I made my own. You can too!
If you’ve never heard of kimchi (AKA kimchee), it is a Korean staple, a traditional side dish made from fermented vegetables, usually Chinese (napa) cabbage and daikon radish, plus a variety of seasonings including chilli powder, spring onions, garlic, ginger, and fishy things. There are hundreds of varieties of kimchi made with different vegetables as the main ingredients.
However, I don’t eat several of the, often referenced, key ingredients. A bit of research took me to Korean temple food (food eaten by Buddhist monks and nuns). Temple food is vegetarian (they may use dairy products but Korean Buddhism forbids meat). Korean temple food traditionally also does not use five pungent vegetables (onions, garlic, chives, green onions and leeks): the “o-shin-chae”, because they hinder spiritual practice of monks and nuns. So having researched Korean temple food (which has a reputation for being fantastic!) I knew it was possible to make wonderful gluten-free, vegan, allium-free kimchi. So after a bit of work. I did!
Fermented foods are so good for you but the great thing is they also taste FANTASTIC. I last had Gluten-Free, Vegan Kimchi in Itadaki Zen – a totally vegan Japanese restaurant (not sure if Kimchi is widely eaten in Japan but it was good!) near Kings Cross, London. It was delicious. Eating this red-gold made me even keener to make my own.
Kimchi goes with everything but goes especially well with Healthy, Gluten Free, Vegan, Ginger Tofu and Vietnamese Summer Rolls. It can even be added to any dish when recipes might fry onion or garlic e.g. at step 5 of Sesame Noodles with Shitake Mushrooms and Pak Choi.
I adore fermented food. I get lots of inspiration from lots of different sources but if you want to know more about fermenting and preserving I can highly recommend The Art of Fermentation* by Sandor Ellix Katz. A wonderful book packed full of knowledge, passion and information (but not recipes as we know them). This book is my inspiration to try out different methods of preserving on the world of fruits and vegetables.
Gluten-Free Vegan Kimchi is easy but takes a little time to make and ferment.
Gluten-Free Vegan Kimchi is (obviously!) gluten-free and vegan as well as… celery free, coconut free, garlic free, lupin free, mustard free, onion free, peanut free, sesame free, soya free*, tree nut free.
*For soya free, leave out tamari.
Goch garu is a Korean red pepper powder. It has a smokey, fruity-sweet taste with a hot kick. Gochu garu can be bought in many Asian supermarket or bought on line. Look out for kimchi grade gochu garu. It is very reasonable on line.
Daikon radish can be bought in most Asian grocers. It is a long white/ pale carrot shaped radish but much larger than a carrot. If you can’t get daikon you can use ordinary radish.
You will need to use rubber gloves as you do not want to get your hands into the stuffing paste with all that chilli. If you don’t have suitable (clean) gloves you can use food/ freezer bags on your hands instead.
I used three 1.2 litre capacity jars (plus a cheeky old pickle jar) for this recipe. Three small jars at easier to handle and store (and share) than one large jar.
Sterilise jars in the dishwasher and be careful when removing the jars from the dishwasher and handling them not to touch the inside of the jars to keep them sterile. You must make sure everything is scrupulously clean; utensils, chopping boards, hands and so on. Any dirt, soap or grease may inhibit the fermentation process.
Very important!!! You will need to monitor the jars carefully, certainly over the first few weeks, as the fermentation continues, gas (carbon dioxide) will be produced by the fermentation process so you will need to release the jars frequently (quite how often varies).
In the first few days you can seal the jars and release regularly (but you have to ensure you release the fermentation gas frequently). Otherwise you can use cloth, coffee filters etc. to keep out dust, flies, etc. and allow fermentation to continue without the possibility of exploding jars!!!
Once you store the jars in the fridge, make a judgement based on how much gas your kimchi is producing. The last thing you want is an exploding kimchi jar!!!
Recipe – Gluten-Free Vegan Kimchi
Serves makes approximately 4 litres of kimchi
Preparation time 3 hours (including standing time but not fermenting time)
Cooking time 0 minutes
2 large heads (~ 2.2 kilograms) of Chinese (napa) cabbage
200 grams sea salt flakes
30 grams glutinous rice flour
30 grams dried kelp (kombu) sheets
200 grams gochu garu (or to taste)
2 teaspoons dried red chilli flakes (or to taste)
0.5 tablespoon tamari (or other gluten-free soya sauce)* (leave out for soya free)
50 grams freshly grated ginger
1 daikon/ Korean radish (~400 grams) peeled and cut into 6 centimetre match sticks/ julienne
2 medium apples peeled, cored and cut into 6 centimetre match sticks/ julienne
1. Once you have made sure everything is clean wash the Chinese cabbage and drain. Remove any wilted, damaged outer leaves from the cabbage and trim away any damaged parts. Trim off the very bottom of the cabbage, leaving enough of the root end intact to hold the cabbage together. Slice the cabbage lengthwise into quarters, Wash the cabbage to ensure any grit inside the cabbage is removed. Do not drain
2. In a very large non-reactive bowl place the water drenched cabbage pieces and any outer leaves that have come away. Arrange the cabbage in one layer with cut sides up. Sprinkle 125 grams of the sea salt over the cabbage and make sure it falls between the leaves. Dissolve the remaining 75 grams of sea salt into 250 millilitres lukewarm water, and sprinkle evenly over the cabbage
3. Let the cabbage sit for two to three hours. Every half an hour or so roll and move the cabbage to ensure even salting. The salt will draw water out of the cabbage and the liquid will eventually cover cabbage. After two to three hours the cabbage will be more limp but still have crunch
4. Rinse the cabbage well and set to drain on a colander. Throw away the salt water and clean the large bowl to reuse for the paste and stuffing the cabbage
5. In a small saucepan, dissolve the glutinous rice flour in 1.2 litres of water and add the kelp sheets. Bring the mixture to a boil, decrease the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for five minutes stirring constantly. The mixture will become a thin paste. After five minutes turn off the heat and let the mixture cool a little
6. In the large bowl add the gochu garu, chilli flakes, tamari and ginger. Remove the kelp sheets from the glutinous rice paste and pour over into the large bowl. Mix well. You will have a deep red paste. Add the daikon radish and apple and mix well
7. Wearing rubber gloves, take one quarter of cabbage at a time and starting with the outer leaves and working in, push and rub the stuffing between the leaves. Ensure each leaf is generously coated. Once you have coated all the leaves of all the cabbage mix again to make sure all the cabbage is well and evenly coated
8. Press the leaves of each quarter together and fold the tops over to create a bundle. Place the bundles into suitable sterilised jars with screw top or clip lids. Press down firmly on the bundles to pack well and remove any trapped air bubbles. Use any loose individual leaves to wipe up the remaining stuffing at the bottom and sides of the bowl. Spread the leaves to cover the to of the kimchi. Pack well. Add any remaining stuffing mixture to the jars on top of the kimchi and pack/ press well. The cabbage must be immersed in liquid. Add more salt water if needed. Leave at least three centimetres air space clear at the top of each jar
9. Cover the lids with breathable material (e.g. muslin and an elastic band) and allow to stand at room temperature (18-22 C) overnight. Let the kimchi stand at room temperature for two to three more days before transferring to the fridge to slow the fermentation
10. The kimchi will keep well, in the fridge, for over three months or usually quite a lot longer.