I go in cycles making kim chi and will go for long periods of time without making any - buying it at the Korean grocery store. A Koren grocery store with excellent house-made kim-chi insures a steady stream of customers. A store with mediocre kim-chi makes me want to make my own.
I made a batch of kim chi last week and here is a photo of it in progress. The "perfect" kim chi is pleasantly salty, has a crunchy bite, a bright orange red color, and at the right moment, a slightly effervescent quality. Timing and technique can make a big difference.
Perhaps the most important technique is the preliminary salting of the cabbage. My rule of thumb is to salt the cabbage until you think you have added too much -- and then add some more. Besides napa cabage, my recipe also includes daikon, garlic chives, garlic, ginger, red pepper powder and yes - "jut". See my recipe here for a discussion of jut and the kim-chi technique I have developed.
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