[Photograph: Sara Remington]

Napa cabbage is the backbone to many a kimchi recipe, so it seems natural to begin a kimchi-making adventure with a leafy ferment. In Lauryn Chun's The Kimchi Cookbook, she presents a recipe for the house pickle from her company, Mother-in-Law's Kimchi. As she writes in the intro to the recipe, Chun's recipe is a variation on a fall harvest kimchi, typically eaten fresh, immediately after mixing. Chun prefers to ferment the mixture of chile flakes, salted shrimp, garlic, ginger, and cabbage for a few days before eating; this is how her product is sold. The moderate fermentation time allows the seasonings to mellow a bit and take on kimchi's signature effervescent quality.

Why I picked this recipe: With a strong backbone of chile flakes, salted shrimp, and garlic, this traditional napa cabbage kimchi seemed like the perfect recipe to start my fermented pantry.

What worked: Process-wise, this kimchi was easy to prepare, and the resulting ferment was a solid take on a fairly typical kimchi recipe.

What didn't: Perhaps it was the brand of chile I bought, but I found this kimchi super spicy. It takes great mixed into other dishes, but it's difficult to eat on its own. Next time I'll dial down the spice just a bit.

Suggested tweaks: If you wanted to make this recipe vegan, you could substitute mushroom broth (recipe coming later this week) for the shrimp and beef stock. Steeping a bit of kombu with the mushrooms would help make up for the lack of sea-flavor from the shrimp.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of The Kimchi Cookbook to give away this week.

About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer out of Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American, Berkeleyside NOSH, and blogs at cookingwolves.wordpress.com.


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