Kimchee is a pickled side dish that is traditionally served with main entrees. It’s a dish that is spicy, healthy and can pack some heat. Growing up, kimchee was like mustard or ketchup and this dish continues to be a condiment in our house today.
A favorite dish for eating kimchee is with a bowl of steamed rice, topped with slices of avocado and sprinkled with Aloha Shoyu. The recipe is fairly mild when it comes to heat, however, you can control the heat by adding more pepper to the mixture. Mom had her own techniques to making this dish and you can choose yours as well.
In Hawaii it is normal to find red chili pepper plants growing in just about every yard. You can use fresh chili peppers for this dish or you can use red pepper flakes. You can also dry your own red chili peppers or you can purchase dried peppers.
Chili pepper water is another item that is usually found in the refrigeration in most homes in Hawaii. If you’d like to increase the heat in this dish, you’ll need to prepare the chili pepper water ahead of time. But if you’re fine with mild heat, stick with the plain water in the jar.
Growing up in Hawaii, kimchee was a staple and mom always had the gallon jar filled with the cabbage mixture. Fair warning if this is your first attempt at making your own kimchee, the fermentation process that creates the perfect kimchee produces an aroma that pops when you first open the jar after completing the fermentation process.
Secondly since, the jar is compacted with fermented cabbage, when you remove the lid from the jar, the cabbage itself appears to grow straight out of the jar. My brothers used to joke that this dish had a life of its own, in a way it does.
You can also use this recipe for pickling radishes and turnips. You will find that the store bought kimchee has slices of turnips in their mixtures. Here’s a homemade version from our house to yours.
Chili Pepper Water
- 6-8 hot red chili peppers – add more or less to control the heat
- 1/2 tsp. white vinegar
- 1/4 tsp. fresh ginger
- 1 tsp. of Hawaiian (sea salt) salt
- 3-4 cups hot water
Combine the ingredients in a clean jar that can take the heat of the water. Pour 3-4 cups of hot water, not boiling. Let the mixture steep at room temperature overnight. You need to strain the water before you cover the cabbage with it. If you have leftover water after covering the cabbage, refrigerate it and use it for flavoring other dishes.
- 3 cups of Napa cabbage
- 3 tbsp. of salt
- 3 green onions
- 3 cloves of garlic
- Water enough to cover the cabbage
- 2 tsp. chili pepper chopped
- 1 tsp. chopped ginger
Wash the cabbage and cut it into 1 inch pieces bite sizes. Sprinkle the cabbage with 2 tbsp. of Hawaiian salt, mix, let the cabbage sit for 30 minutes. Cut the green onions, chop the garlic, red peppers and ginger into fine pieces.
Rinse the cabbage that has been sitting in the Hawaiian salt. Mix the cabbage and the rest of the ingredients, add 1 tsp. of salt and put everything into a gallon glass jar. Fill the jar with either the plain or the chili pepper water. You need just enough to cover the cabbage mixture and let it sit for several days in the refrigerator.