Five Step Process
Required Tools: Sharp knives, cutting boards, enormous colanders, giant steel mixing bowls, large wooden spoons, experienced hands.
Step One: Cutting
It is known that the quality and consistency of cuts greatly affect the texture and flavor of the finished kimchi. For cabbage based kimchi, we start by peeling each leaf off and hand cutting individually. This guarantees the optimal stalk-to-leaf ratio. Daikon kimchi requires a thorough scrubbing and removal of all bruises and imperfections. Width and shape of cut for daikon is determined by the season and condition of the vegetable. Daikon cuts must have at least two sides intact with skin to maintain texture.
Step Two: SALTING
The cut vegetables from step one must be salted. Root vegetables are salted directly while leaf vegetables are submerged in salted water. Depending on season the time it requires to be perfectly salted will vary. This process takes a minimum of 2 - 3 hours. Gently we check the progress 1 hour at a time to check how fast the vegetables lose moisture and become soft.
Step THREE: WASHING
In small batches the cut vegetables are rinsed in cool fresh running water. Gently by hand the vegetables are rubbed to release any deep embedded salt. After rinsing all the vegetables the first time through this process repeats up to 4 more times. After being washed the now pristine vegetables are placed in large colanders to dry and shed any excess water for the next 2 hours.
Step FOUR: MiXING
When the cut vegetables are half-way through drying we begin making the kimchi paste. The paste is always made at this point in time to ensure that it remains fresh and does not begin to ferment before being added to the vegetables. We add all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and gently mix by hand. No machines or mixers are allowed - this prevents aeration and bruising.
Step FIVE: Packing
If timed correctly the paste will be ready the moment the vegetables are dry. Gently in small batches we mix the paste into the vegetables layer by layer. The coated vegetables are packed into airtight containers to begin the fermentation process. Fermentation begins within hours and is left to mature for the next 21 days. We monitor the temperature and oxygen levels to achieve the best balance of flavor, texture and nutrition.