Kames Chi ☆

My older brother’s name was James, but he preferred to be called Jim. In spite of that, I always called him James, as did the entire family until his high school graduation, when he enlisted in the Army Air Corps. in 1946. Thence forward, everone but me called him Jim.

The Korean version of sauerkraut is called kimchi. It is a malodorous, bubbly, fermented concoction made with a special aromatic fermented chile called gochujang. My recipe here is made in the kimchi style, with significant omissions and substitutions. Thus, although based on Kim Chi, my recipe is given a name in the more proper form of address, Kames Chi. For you sauerkraut lovers who might not like kimchi, this presents a delightful alternative.

  • 1 Napa cabbage, in 2-inch strips
  • ¼ cup (real!) salt
  • 2 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp ginger, grated
  • 1 tbsp <sugar>
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 2 tsp anchovy fish sauce
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 large daikon radish, julienne
  • 1 medium turnip, julienne
  • 1 medium carrot, julienne
  • 2 bunches green onions, in 1” pieces

Place the shredded cabbage into a large flat-bottomed stainless steel pot and sprinkle with the salt. Mix thoroughly by hand, preferably using gloves. Place another heavy pot or pan on top with weights and allow cabbage to sit for about 2 hours, until it is wilted and much of its water has been released.

Drain, rinse the cabbage 2 or 3 times in the sink until the salt is removed, and transfer it to a colander to drain for about 15 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine cabbage with the remaining ingredients and mix well, again by hand. Once combined, transfer the mixture to jars (one or more, depending on size). Cram it in, press it down, and pack it tightly enough that it is covered in its own liquid. Put lids on the jars.

Allow the jars to remain at room temperature for at least 3 days. Place them on plates or sheet pans in case they bubble over during the fermentation.

Each day, remove the lids to release gases,press down on the mixture to keep it submerged, and sample the contents. Do this until the taste is satisfactory.

After passing the taste test, transfer the jars into refrigeration. The preparation can be refrigerated for a few months. If you prefer to age it longer, add a little vinegar to the jars.

Makes about a quart.