Kimchee for the Faint Hearted

Kim Chee has so much more to offer, like variety, a chilli option, use up leftover veggies before they ‘go off’, and an infinite variety  of combinations.
My wife insists that mine always sits up on top of the breakfast bar shelf because it looks so pretty with red and yellow capsicums, chilli slices, orange and purple carrots, red radish, white radish (Daikon), green cabbage, white cabbage, green spring onions , thin slices of kumera (sweet potato) and whatever else I can rustle up.
I must admit, it looks as appetising as it tastes.  A final reminder for success….you must ensure that the vegetables are ALWAYS below the surface of the liquid. .  Squish it down with a narrow sauce bottle to achieve this, then fold up a cabbage leaf on top as ‘packing’. Here’s the recipe.




Kimchee for the Faint Hearted


· 1 cup (250 ml) sea salt flakes

· 1 head Korean/ Chinese cabbage, sliced into 1 cm slices

· 1½ tbsp salt

· ½ Daikon radish (moo), sliced into ½ cm slices (about 2 cups, or 500ml)

· 2 tbsp rice flour

· 5 garlic cloves chopped up (or, even better, squeezed through a garlic press.)

· 2 cm piece ginger, finely grated.

· ½ Brown Onion, diced

· 4 Anchovies (Optional)

· 2 tbsp sugar

· 3–4 spring onions, sliced



Standing time 3 days

You will need to begin this recipe 3 days ahead because the initial ferment takes that long.

Combine the salt with 3 cups of water and stir until the salt dissolves. Pour the salt water over the cabbage leaves in a large bowl and let it stand for at least 3 hours, or until the cabbage is wilted. Wash the cabbage thoroughly three times and drain well. Set aside.

Mix the 1½ tbsp salt with the radish in a bowl, leave for 15 minutes, then drain off moisture and set aside.

Place 1 cup water and 2 tbsp rice flour in a small pot. Put it on a low heat burner and stir continuously. Don’t stop! Bring the paste to the boil, stirring continuously. This should take about a minute or two. If it gets too ‘gluggy’, add a little more water to achieve a thick paste. Turn off the heat, place the rice paste into a bowl and let cool.

Smash up the sugar, garlic, ginger and onion (& Anchovies, if used) in a blender.

Mix all the ingredients (smashed up spices, rice paste, diced onion and Daikon radish) with the cabbage in a large bowl, adding the chopped spring onions towards the end.

Pack the kimchi into a clean sterilised glass jar (Sterilise jars by rinsing them with boiling water.) and let it ferment for 2–3 days at room temperature. After three days, place the kimchi in the fridge until it’s fermented to your liking. It may take one or two more days but keep trying it until the taste suits you, but it can be eaten at any time, including inside the three days.

The brew will become a little ‘watery’, so make sure the veggies are pushed down below the water line for maximum longevity.

Info: Salting the cabbage and radish kills off surface bacteria, fungi and yeasts so that only the lacto bacillus that causes the fermentation which is inside the leaves survives. This is really good for pernickety, colic-y digestive systems as it settles everything inside down to a dull simmer, so to speak. Initially, the brew will taste a little salty, but this fades as it gets used up in fermentation until at about the five to six day mark, it’s gone altogether. The juice is REALLY great soup stock!

Ron Shannon

I was raised on a wheat and sheep farm in the WA wheatbelt and watched my father, an excellent motor mechanic, utterly destroy some of the most fertile soil in the district over the course of thirty years by not understanding that you cannot continue to take, take, take without putting something back. He couldn’t see it. He’d just slather on more superphosphate. He didn’t notice the four lovely, freshwater lakes on our property, which contained four types of edible fish, coonacs, gilgies and giant freshwater clams, each clam a feed for a grown man, rapidly turning into salt marsh because of fertiliser run off. He destroyed them in three years. We also had an engine driven electricity supply whose noise drove me nuts at night when trying to sleep. I resolved to have a silent one when I grew up. And I did, twice! I enjoyed gardening, even as a little kid, growing lettuce, radishes and tomatoes. These were rare treats, as decent fresh produce was just not available locally. You HAD to grow your own, raise chooks for the eggs, slaughter sheep, pigs and cattle for your meat. On special occasions, we had roasted chook! I learned early that everything had to be sustainable and locally available. In the mid eighties, I attended, with my wife, a Bill Mollison public lecture about Permaculture. We were not too impressed by the man, but his message resonated with us. We had just had built a lovely modern home in one of the better riverside suburbs in Perth, but we were not happy there. Having both been raised as ‘country kids’, we decided to sell up and move to the Perth Hills, a place filled with ‘small-holdings’, and bought a five acre property on which we grew sandalwood trees and practised Permaculture principles in setting up to be ‘sustainable’. I put in lots of water tanks, even though we had available dangerously, ‘chemicalised’, mains water on site, and ended up with 88,000 litres worth of rainwater storage so that I could set up a small, professional-level, aquaculture system and have decent drinking water. We also had one of the first solar power systems, with battery. Ross Mars was doing a lot of Permaculture courses and we became his representative permaculture property with our swales, sustainable aquaculture and permaculture gardens, not to mention our myriad wild life, especially birds. We had fourteen species of honey eaters on our place, along with blue wrens, two types of ‘robin redbreast’ and all the usual cast of corvids, cockatoos, parrots, etc. We were also Ross’s source of sandalwood and quandong seedlings. We had our chooks in three separate yards that we could close off to them so as to provide an annual rotation of garden crops through each yard, then let the chooks clean up, fertilise and till next year’s garden plot. Those chooks were actually horrid little dinosaurs. They would catch and fight over mice, and they would corner any goannas that were foolish enough to enter their domain and attack them until they either were killed (and eaten!) or managed to get away. Yes, we did feed them properly!! Our cattle dog was afraid of them. He’d seen what happened to a few goannas. At age seventy five, the five acres had become just too much work for us, so we sold it and moved to our self-built new home in Northam in 2020. Still have our own rainwater and power supplies, though!

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