Difficulty: Easy - for beginners
Napa cabbage - approximately one pound
4 cups of cold water
3 tablespoons of sea salt
1 tablespoon of fresh garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon of fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 tablespoon of fresh green onions (scallions), finely chopped
1 teaspoon of dried red chili pepper flakes (more if you like things spicy, less if you don't)
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of sugar
Separate and wash cabbage leaves. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sea or kosher salt evenly on cabbage leaves. Place salted cabbage leaves in a large bowl, add 4 cups of cold water, cover with plastic wrap, and place in refrigerator overnight. Be sure that water covers all cabbage leaves - place a plate or other heavy object on top of leaves to ensure that they stay covered with water.
The next day, pour off water and thoroughly rinse cabbage leaves. You can shake them gently in the sink to remove excess moisture.
Place cabbage leaves back into large bowl and add garlic, green onion or scallions, ginger, dried red chili flakes, sugar, and 1 tablespoon of salt. Use your hands to rub seasoning evenly into all cabbage leaves. Be sure to use gloves to do this, otherwise, your hands will burn from the chili flakes. If you are pressed for time, mix seasoning ingredients with about a cup of warm water before adding them to cabbage to allow for easier distribution on cabbage leaves.
Transfer seasoned cabbage leaves into a large glass bottle. Be sure to use firm pressure with your hands to push down on cabbage leaves as they stack up inside the bottle. Transfer any liquid that accumulated during the mixing process into the bottle as well - it will become kim chi brine. Some liquid will also come out of the cabbage leaves as you press down on them as they are stacked in the bottle.
Leave about 2 inches of room at the top of the bottle before capping it tightly with a lid. Allow bottle of kim chi to sit at room temperature for 2-3 days.
Your kim chi is now ready to eat. Use scissors or a knife and cutting board to cut cabbage leaves into 2 inch pieces before serving as a side dish to a bowl of rice, soup, and perhaps a piece of fish. Refrigerate remaining kim chi and take out small portions right before meals. The refrigerated kim chi will continue to ferment slowly in the refrigerator over time, becoming more sour and flavorful with each passing day. So long as you use clean utensils to take out small portions, it will keep for up to a month in your refrigerator.