Make-Ahead Kimchi Paste

If you’re like me, you LOVE kimchi, but sometimes don’t love having to make it. I find that preparing the paste is the most time-consuming part of the process. Spending some time to make the paste ahead of time which you will eventually slather all over some lucky future vegetables is worth the effort.

I use wide-mouth jars to keep the paste– it makes it easy to scoop out when you need it with a gloved hand.

Make-ahead kimchi paste lasts a very long time (at least 3 months) when tightly sealed in the refrigerator. Note that we are not fermenting the paste; simply preparing it for when we are ready to make our next batch of kimchi.

Zen and the Art of Peeling Garlic

Ever since attending a ten-day Vipassana meditation a few years ago, I have shifted how I experience what I used to consider tedious tasks. I used to view them as something to avoid, complain about, or to rush through. In kimchi-making, this tedium manifests as the garlic peeling. I now view this part of the process as a working meditation, since there appear to be no shortcuts I have found to truly speed up the process of removing the paper from the cloves.

Sure, you could shortcut the whole thing by buying pre-peeled garlic, but as an allium, garlic has many volatile compounds which evaporate quickly upon handling. There is organic domestic (to the united States) garlic that is sealed into small packets, but it uses a lot of plastic, and is highly perishable and expensive. You can find bulk amounts (3 or 5 lbs.) of less expensive peeled garlic, but there’s a 99% probability that it comes from China. I embrace the realities of the global economy (most of our “stuff” these days is made somewhere in Asia), but when it comes to sourcing food ingredients, I prefer to buy domestically and as locally as possible.

Need kimchi ideas? How about traditional kimchi, radish kimchi, and more? Most recipes on our website call for about a half-pint (8 ounces by volume) of paste.

This is a vegan variety; if you want to make it more traditional (“fishy”), add a few canned anchovies to the paste before blending. Or, add a few splashes of preservative-free fish sauce, or make your own fermented fish sauce! You can also splash fish sauce at the time of making kimchi (directly into the vessel) if you want to keep the paste vegan.

Kimchi gochugaru powder, truly from Korea. Costs $25-$30/lb. in the U.S.

What brand of gochugaru (Korean red pepper powder) to use? I try to find one made in Korea, although most brands grow their peppers in, you’ll never guess, China! This brand is grown and made in Korea.

I have found truly Korean-grown gochugaru. It cost about $25-$30/lb./500g. This brand is seasonally available (we found this in late September) at HMart, an Asian grocery chain in the U.S. You can also order it online here. More info about this product (in Korean) here.

 

Make-Ahead Kimchi Paste

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cuisine Korean
Makes 2 pints Paste (enough to make 3 gallons/12 liters of kimchi)

Equipment

  • Food processor

Ingredients

  • 400 g (14 oz.) or about 3 bunches scallions
  • 120 g peeled garlic (about 1 1/2 bulbs)
  • 80 g fresh ginger, about a 4-5 inch/10-15cm piece size
  • 60 ml (2 fl. oz.) tamari or soy sauce
  • 150 g (1 ½ cup/350 ml) by volume medium or coarse red pepper powder (gochugaru)

Optional Ingredients

  • 30 ml (2 Tbsp.) fish sauce or 2 or 3 canned anchovies

Instructions
 

  • Peel then roughly chop the garlic.
  • Scrub ginger to remove dirt. If organic, you can leave skin on. Otherwise, peel ginger with a spoon. Roughly chop ginger.
  • Cut root ends from scallions (about 1 inch from end), and slice them (white and green parts) into 1/2 inch (1 cm) pieces.
  • Add scallions, ginger, and garlic to a blender or the work bowl of a food processor. If using a "mini" food processor (3 or 4 cup capacity), you may need to make the paste in several batches.
  • Add pepper powder and tamari/soy sauce, and anchovies or fish sauce if using.
  • Start the food processor, and mix altogether until a thick paste forms and it "rolls" together when the machine is running. (You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times). You may also need to add a little extra tamari to adjust the texture.
  • Transfer the paste into an airtight wide-mouth mason jar. Cover tightly and store in refrigerator until you're ready to paste up some veggies.
  • Paste lasts in the refrigerator up to 3 months.

 

5 thoughts on “Make-Ahead Kimchi Paste

  1. David Griffith Reply

    Waaaay to much garlic! Completely inedible. Made everything in fridge taste and smell of garlic. Possibly they used super weak garlic.

    • Austin Post authorReply

      Ooops, shoot! You’re right! They were too high before. We adjusted the garlic and ginger amounts in the recipe to reflect a more balanced paste.

      You could save the paste by simply adding another 2 bunches or so of green onions, more powder, and tamari, to adjust the flavor and cut it down.

      Thanks for the feedback!

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