Farmer’s Wife Kimchi

During our short two years at Beale AFB, I was lucky enough to befriend my farmer and his wife. The term “my farmer” might sound a little funny to those of you who have never participated with a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). If you have, you already know that having a relationship with a single farm and the staff that work there is very, very special. For those of you who don’t know, a CSA is way to receive a weekly delivery of vegetables fresh from the farm. You don’t usually choose what’s coming but you trust your farmer to successfully grow a wide variety of crops that will appeal to your family. Sometimes, you get to try new veggies that you’ve never heard of before. You might actually live close enough to pick up your veggies right at the farm, like we did with Jim’s Produce. Our relationship with Jim and Amanda is one I will always treasure, and not just for the great vegetables.

The other day, Amanda shared the most gorgeous pictures of homemade kimchi on her Facebook page. So I asked if she was willing to share the recipe. And she was!

Kimchi: savory ambrosia
by Amanda Johnson

Korean Red Pepper and Salted Shrimp.

Korean Red Pepper and Salted Shrimp.

My husband Jim had a friend named Rodney, who, sadly, left the planet far too early. Rodney’s mom is Korean, and is a generous, sweet soul. She found out that we enjoyed kimchi, so one day she brought us a jar. This was a truly substantial jar. Picture a big, food service size jar of dill pickles. She said, as she hoisted it over to Jim’s arms, “If you like it, I will bring you a big jar!”

Contrary to popular lore, kimchi does not require being buried in the ground in order to do its magic. (I find this to be the kind of comment that smacks of misunderstanding and a decided lack of cultural relativism, but I will not dwell on that here.)

It does require about five days to ferment, and this should be done in vessel that let gasses escape and at the same time, keeps foreign particulates out. A fermenting crock will do nicely, or a glass jar fitted with an air lock. (These are often available at stores that have a good selection of canning, pickling, or home brewing supplies.) You will need a clean 2-quart or 2-liter glass jar or fermenting crock.

Aside from this special equipment and a few specialty items from the Korean grocery store, you are on your way to a magical land of savory goodness.

Note on ingredients: We substituted bok choy for napa cabbage with good effect. We also added carrot because we had some. We used fresh spring garlic along with dried. Adjust spices and vegetables to your taste. Experiment. I think to some extent, making kimchi is about method over ingredients.

Raw ingredients for Farmer's Wife Kimchi.

Raw ingredients for Farmer’s Wife Kimchi.

Recipe for kimchi

1 napa cabbage (2#)
16 oz. daikon radish (we do not peel, but up to you) shredded or cut into 2-inch matchsticks
4 medium scallions, ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces (use all)
⅓ cup Korean red pepper powder (kochukaru-look for re-sealable bag at Korean market)
¼ cup fish sauce
¼ cup peeled and minced fresh ginger (about 2 oz.)
1 tablespoon minced garlic cloves (6-8 medium cloves)
1½ tablespoons sea salt
2 teaspoons Korean salted shrimp (saeujeot, these are small shrimp sold in jars in the refrigerated case at the Korean market)
1½ teaspoons of granulated sugar (I use raw washed brown sugar)

Mix ingredients together, tossing with your hands. Place in fermenting vessel. Allow to ferment to four to five days. Store refrigerated in an airtight container (don’t screw down the lid too tightly).

Freshly mixed ingredients ready for the crock.

Freshly mixed ingredients ready for the crock.

Fermenting Crock.

Fermenting Crock.

Finished Kimchi, ready for the refrigerator.

Finished Kimchi, ready for the refrigerator.


  • Prepare a bowl of brown rice. Add a sliced hard-boiled egg, hot sauce, a smear of peanut butter, and kimchi.
  • Serve with any meat and rice.
  • Finely diced, it is divine atop a deviled egg.

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