(To make two quart Mason jars)
1 medium-sized head of napa cabbage (about 1.5 pounds)
1 medium bok choy (about 1 pound)
1/4 cup kosher or sea salt
2/3 cup of kohlrabi, daikon, or other radish peeled and cut into matchsticks
5 scallions, cut into one-inch pieces
6 cloves fresh garlic, grated
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ginger, peeled and grated
3 Tablespoons fish sauce
3 Tablespoons red pepper flakes (use up to 5 if you like it extra spicy, less for mild)
1 tsp sugar (optional, but helps to hasten fermentation and you don’t taste it in the final product)
Wash the napa cabbage and bok choy and cut both crosswise at two-inch intervals. Don’t worry about having long pieces of the softer leaf, and don’t include the root ends. Core is okay to cube and leave in, although some remove it. I like mine chunky. Put the napa and bok choy into a large bowl and add the salt (salt without iodine or anti-caking ingredients is best) then massage the cabbage for a few minutes until it begins to soften. Add enough water (distilled or other non-chlorinated water is best for encouraging fermentation) to cover the cabbage and weight it down with a plate and a jar or can of something heavy on top. Let brine for two hours.
Drain the cabbage and rinse it two or three times, then place in a colander to drain for twenty minutes.
While the cabbage is draining, place the garlic, ginger, fish sauce, red pepper flakes, and sugar into a small bowl and using the back of a spoon make a paste of all ingredients.
Place the cabbage and remaining chopped vegetables into a large bowl. Add the paste and rub it into the vegetables. (Use gloves, if you like.) Then pack the Mason jars tightly with the vegetables and press down, leaving about an inch-and-a-half of head space. Close the lid (not too tightly) and place on a plate on your kitchen counter for up to a week. Taste every day and press the mixture down to release fermentation bubbles. Refrigerate when it is as sour as you like it and bear in mind that it may be just right for you after only 24 hours.
Some will also include carrots, thinly sliced. I’m not a big fan of carrots in my kimchi, but if you like them, by all means add them–and anything else you might fancy (Asian pear, horseradish, etc). Carrots do make for a colorful batch. You can also use regular cabbage, but I think the Asian cabbages provide a much nicer combination of soft leaf and crunchy stem.
If you want vegetarian kimchi, you can eliminate the fish sauce and use seaweed or miso to give it umami.