Kohlrabi literally means cabbage turnip in German. It’s a member of the cole family along with broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale and others. There are several varieties of kohlrabi, manifesting as either green-skinned or purple-skinned.
Kohlrabi can be eaten raw, cooked in various ways, or, as you’ll see here, made into a delicious kimchi! Traditional kimchi typically contains both cabbage and turnip, so we figured kohlrabi would make a dynamite simple kimchi on its own… Boy, were we right!
Red pepper powder (gochugaru) is available at Asian/Korean markets. The only ingredient should be red peppers (no salt or preservatives). I’m partial to the stuff that’s actually from Korea (as opposed most brands which are from China).
- 3 lbs. (750g), about 2 kohlrabi bulbs
- 4-6 scallions
- 3-5 inch "finger" of fresh ginger root
- 6-8 garlic cloves peeled
- 1/4 cup red pepper powder
- 1 Tbsp. (15 ml) fish sauce omit if vegan
- 1 Tbsp. (15 ml) soy sauce or tamari gluten-free or soy sauce
- filtered water
- sea salt
- Make a 6% salt:water brine by dissolving salt into room temperature or warm water (that's about 3-4 tablespoons of fine grain sea salt to one quart/liter of water) in a one-gallon glass or ceramic container. Stir until salt dissolves.
- Cut greens and stems from kohlrabi. Peel the fibrous outer layer until you reach mostly white flesh. (You can use greens like you would beet greens!) Compost the peels. I also saved a few of the stems (see pic) and threw them in for a bit of color and maybe flavor.
- Cut bulbs into quarters, then into thin (1/8" or thinner) slices using a mandoline, V-slicer, or knife.
- Add slices to the brine. Cover with a heavy plate to weigh down so that the contents stay under the brine. Soak for 4-6 hours.
- Drain (but do not rinse) the veggies through a colander, reserving about a cup of the brine.
Prepare spice paste
- Peel ginger (using a spoon) and roughly chop. Add to bowl of a food processor. If not using food processor, mince the ginger and add to a bowl.
- Peel and grate the garlic and roughly chop. Add to bowl of a food processor. If not using food processor, mince garlic and add to a bowl.
- Chop 2-3 of the scallions into 1/4" slices. Add to food processor. If not using food processor, slice into thinner (1/16") strips and add to bowl.
- Chop the remaining scallions into 1-inch pieces.
- Add pepper powder, and splash tamari and fish sauce to mixing bowl. Vegan variation: omit fish sauce and use 2 Tbsp. tamari. You could also use the soaking brine instead of these.
- Stir and mash contents (or pulse with food processor) together until a paste forms. Add more tamari, fish sauce, or reserved as needed or desired until you achieve a paste consistency. If in a food processor, when the paste begins to "roll" and look like a doughnut, it is ready.
Pack Jar or Crock
- Wear latex or plastic gloves to protect yourself from the heat of the peppers. (I bought dedicated "kimchi" rubber gloves for this purpose.) Mix paste thoroughly with your hands into the drained vegetables and the other half of the scallions. You can mix everything directly in the fermenting container, or in a separate large mixing bowl. Mix until the veggies are coated nicely with the paste.
- Pack the jar (a one-gallon size, or two quart-sized jars should suffice) with the vegetables.
- Cover with a plate, or some sterilized rocks, to weigh down so that the contents stay under the brine.
- If using smaller (quart) jars, find a small glass jar (filled with water) that closely fits inside the diameter of the jar. No need to insert a plate or lid if using smaller jars.
- Cover jar(s) with a cloth and rubber band to keep flies out.
- If after one day, the contents are not completely submerged, top it off with some of the reserved brine.
- Store in a warmest spot in your kitchen for at least 14 days. Note: Your house will smell like kimchi.
- Taste after 14 days. If still too crunchy, wait a few more days. When you like texture, move to refrigerator. Keeps in refrigerator several months.