Ever since we planted the first bok choi seeds, I’ve been thinking about how good it would be to make some bok choi kimchi (kimchi is a Korean-style sauerkraut). Finally, our bok choi is ready to harvest, and we are engaged in our much-anticipated bok choi kimchi experiment.

Bok choi, ready to harvest

Kevin and I are very fond of lactic fermented vegetables, which have become a regular part of our diet since we moved here. Lactic fermented foods contain lots of health-giving enzymes and vitamins. Lactic fermentation is a simple traditional way to preserve food without losing nutritional value. Actually, the process adds nutritional value to the food — like making yoghurt out of milk. They also taste delicious — less acidic and more mellow/complex than vinegar pickles.

In case you are interested, the recipe book, Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon, has some good recipes and guidance for making lactic pickles. It really helped us get started. If I’d known it was that easy to make your own fermented vegetable pickles, I’d have started doing it much sooner. Wild Fermentation, by Sandor Ellix Katz, might be another good book to look at. This book is on my wish list, as I think it might give us more interesting ideas and recipes to work with. Maybe we’ll get it next time we are putting in an order with Amazon.

We’ve made various different kinds of lactic pickles in our little kitchen here, but this is the first time we have produce from our own garden to ferment. It feels like a small milestone!

I’ve never tried to make kimchi out of bok choi before, so let’s hope it works ok. I’ll post the outcome in a few days!

Here’s the recipe:

Bok Choi Kimchi
7 heads of bok choi, cut into quarters lengthwise
1 1/2 tablespoons of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon of chile flakes
2 tablespoons of fresh ginger, finely chopped
5 cloves of garlic, minced
4 tablespoons of whey (You can get whey by putting some live natural yoghurt in a cloth, and collecting the liquid that drains out of it.)

Method: Mix all ingredients together in a big bowl. Pound and crush the bok choi to release some of the juices — without completely pulverising it. Leave the mixture to sit for a few minutes to draw out a bit more moisture. Now put the mixture into a large preserving jar, pressing it down to pack it in, and so that the liquid comes up to cover the vegetables. Leave about 3cm of space at the top of the jar, since the kimchi will expand a bit as it ferments. Close the lid firmly, and keep at room temperature for 3 days. Now it should be ready to eat.


You can now store the kimchi in the fridge or root cellar, where it will keep for several months. The taste is good immediately, but improves as the kimchi matures.

Slug Update

You might remember that we were having a problem with slugs devouring our bok choi plants. Somehow, with my nightly slug hunts and our beer traps, the slugs have been kept under control, and we will get to eat most of the bok choi. Farmlet reader, DR, has suggested using coffee as a slug and snail repellent. We are keen to try this trick. Also, BB suggested using khaki campbell ducks to eat the slugs. We like this idea too. Khaki campbell ducks are supposed to be wholly carniverous, so would not eat the seedlings. I’m still a bit worried that the ducks might kill seedlings by standing or sitting on them, though. Has anyone out there had experience with khaki campbell ducks in a vegetable patch?

5 Responses to “Kimchi”

  1. […] I guess it’s time for an update on the batch of bok choi kimchi that I wrote about a while back. I’m afraid the news is not good. That batch of kimchi looks fine, and it fermented well, but (alas!) it tastes disgustingly salty. I must have become muddled and added the salt twice or something. Yuck. The cows have eaten some of it. Kevin put it out with their salt and kelp rations. (Kikuyu grass, which makes up the bulk of our pasture, doesn’t do a very good job of pulling sodium out of the soil. Animals on a kikuyu-based diet need plenty of supplemental salt rations.) That kimchi tasted like one big monster salt ration to me, so I hope it does our animals some good. The other batches of kimchi that I’ve made recently have turned out fine, including one that contains more of the bok choi from the garden. So, despite one failure, we still have plenty of kimchi to eat. […]

  2. joe says:

    re: kimchi

    Your kimchi recipe is rather strange! my wifes korean and i tell you how she makes it.

    1 head of cabbage
    1 onion
    1 head of garlic
    chinese chives
    1 cup of korean dried chilli flakes or if you dont like it hot use less
    sugar maybe 1tbsp
    ginger 1 nob
    korean or thai fish sauce 1/4 to 1/2 cup

    cut cabbage into pieces sprinkle with about 1/2 cup to 1 cup of korean rock salt (its quite cheap from korean store) leave for an hour or two then rinse really thoroughly under cold running water dont squeeze the cabbage be gentle on it or your kimchi will go all soft. Break a bit of cabbage and tast it see if it still tastes really salty if so keep rinsing it. strain as much of the water off as possible leave to strain while you prepare sauce.

    mix a little bit of water into the dried chilli add sugar fish sauce garlic ginger mix it up into a paste then mix it all into your cabbage add a bit more fish sauce if needed to taste. store in a container and leave out for a day or two needs two during winter. then into the fridge should last a month or more. When it starts to mature it gets sour which is how koreans prefer it.

    good luck!

  3. Rebecca says:

    The recipe looks fantastic. Thanks! I really hope we can give it a try. The recipe we use at the moment (roughly similar to the one I’ve posted above) ends up nothing like the kimchi I used to eat in Korea (very inauthentic!), but it tastes ok to us, and all the ingredients are readily available near here. Too bad there is no Korean shop in Kaitaia. I’ll be sure to post a report when I try your recipe — or some modified version, depending on what ingredients we can get around here.

  4. Anonymous says:

    i’ll see if i can find you recipe for water kimchi,, you use a little fresh red chilli instead of dried chilli flakes, so should be easier for you to make without having to buy alot of stuff.

  5. Zlamushka says:


    I ve been very unsuccessful myself when making a batch at home. I would always end up with bubbly rotten cabbage ­čÖü bleh… But! amazingly enough i followed this super old-butt recipe from grandma┬┤s grandma and man was that delish. Spicy as hell and red as baboon┬┤s ass. I ve finished it just by nibblng on it with every meal (consisiting pretty much of kimchi and kimchi), so didnt have much time to experiment, but my absolute favorite is kimchi fried rice.
    I just posted my ultimate kimchi recipe today and cannot wait to try it again. What else should work apart from cabbage and radishes? spinach leaves? kohlrabi bulb? hm….

    Bak choi looks fantastic. You use whey for fermentation? Interesting….