Totally Inauthentic Smokin’ Jalapeño Kimchi: Tasty. Gringa. Paleo & Vegan

Totally Inauthentic Smokin’ Jalapeño Kimchi: Tasty. Gringa. Paleo & Vegan


This post has been waiting in the wings for a few weeks now.  I’m sure many of you have faced the dreaded flu of this year… we faced two, back to back, and I am in recovery mode.  Recovering that is, from weeks of little sleep for looking after my family.  Nobody does it like mom though.  Right?  Here I am with a sore throat, which is the least of my worries after the streams of silly sickness we just finished.  So, here is that post… slightly edited because when I wrote it I couldn’t properly shower myself let alone string a sentence together.  Also, since the original draft of this post I have eaten 3/4 of the jar and turned some of it into Michelle Tam’s Kimchi Apple Sauce (YUM).  Also, after eating it with nearly every meal for a couple weeks my husband finally decided to give it a try and LOVED it.  WHAT?!?  WIN!  He really likes it with meatballs and both of us love it with coconut sweet potato fries.  Gaaaahhhhh….

The Kimchi Chronicles

Morocco. 2006.  I was sitting on the roof of a hotel in Agadir with friends, a lovely hotel owner and his Korean wife.  She came to Morocco as a young woman and stayed in his hotel.  Slowly but surely she wooed him.  To her heart & to her food.  She wooed me too that night to Korean food.  What a spread!  The kimchi is what I remember though.  I had never had it before and I LOVED it.  It has taken me years to connect the dots on certain things.  Spice, yes, I knew I loved spice from the first taste.  I am an odd duck though… I enjoyed my first whiskey, my first red wine and my first beer (craft).  I thought I just liked alcohol but as it turns out I like ferments.  Except my own sauerkraut.  I got a week into making purple cabbage sauerkraut and I couldn’t handle the stink.  Apparently that particular bacteria becomes more overrun with acidic bacteria and it all evens out after about a month but our house was small and… no.  Have you tried making it?  Do you have an outdoor shed or something?  Kimchi on the other hand, with it’s ginger, garlic and onion, kills off the particular bacteria that would otherwise have its way with the cabbage.  And even after a few days it is pungently delicious.  

I originally used Veganista’s recipe to make my very first kimchi and it was fantastic. I desired a bit more color and enjoy variety soo decided to shake it up.  This “recipe” is very loosely based on Michelle Tam’s (Nom Nom Paleo) Kimchi recipe from her new AMAZING cookbook “READY OR NOT!” Which I went straight out and bought after a long cookbook drought.  Yay Portlanders!  I haven’t bought a cookbook in a while, which I believe is directly related to having kids in nappies.  Diapers, for you true Americans.  On the subject of cookbooks though I have also pre-ordered Danielle Walker’s new one!!  Eat What You Love. I’m pretty freaking excited.  I really appreciate these ladies taking control of their health and paying attention to the way food affects their bodies.  I feel a little less alone in the food crazy department.  (update! I have it in hand and though I haven’t had much time I perused it this evening and plan to make some of her Christmassy cookies soon. Woot.)

KIMCHI! Kimchi is one of the quintessential ferments.  I mean, most people actually know about kimchi even if they haven’t tasted it so that is miles ahead of most other cultured foods. I had planned on making a closer version to Michelle Tam’s but then we had TWO bouts of flu sandwiching our Thanksgiving.  No joke.  One of the close to cold variety and the other of the nasty stomach virus variety… spread out over a week.  We dropped like monkeys off a bed.  One at a time.  Kids in school.  What do they do lick each other’s faces?  I dunno.  It’s nasty though.  By the time I felt well enough to throw this together half the veg was dead and I had a pile of jalapeños to deal with as well.  That and I am curious and almost never follow a recipe.  I never even wrote down a recipe until about a decade ago when a friend asked me to write them down in a book for her before I moved country once again.

I sliced up the fresh jalapeños and scorched the ones that didn’t look so hot in the oven to lend a smokey flavor.  But here we go… I’m starting into the recipe so I might as well start!


  • 1 Napa Cabbage, quartered and chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped into 1″ pieces
  • 2-3″ piece of ginger
  • 3 Tbsp Kosher Salt, divided
  • 5-6 jalapeños, divided (about 1 cup sliced)
  • 4-5 carrots, peeled and rinsed
  • 1 bunch radishes (about 1 cup sliced)
  • 1 red or green pepper, quartered and sliced (red retains its color better)
  • 1 large green apple, diced
  • 1 Tbsp Coconut Aminos
  • 1/4 cup water (to puree apple, ginger & onion)
  • 2-3 Tsp smoked paprika
  • Gallon jar with or without airlock or a 2 quart jar (I use a giant pickle jar for this)
  • fermenting weight(s)


  1. Sanitize a large 68oz jar or two roughly 2 liter jars and fermenting weights in the oven at 170º for 5 minutes.
  2. Wash and quarter your cabbage lengthwise, then chop to desired length.  Thicker is more authentic (about 1 inch), but I chopped mine to about a half inch.  Place in a large bowl, toss with 2 Tablespoons kosher salt and set aside for at least 30 minutes for it to begin to ferment.
  3. Slice and then divide your jalapeños, and broil half in the oven, reserving the other half.
  4. Slice the peppers in quarters and then quarter inch slices, set aside.
  5. Slice the radishes in rounds and set aside.
  6. Peel and slice the carrots in rounds or sticks and set aside. (I like thin sticks)
  7. Half the red onion and slice thinly.
  8. Chop the tops off the green onions/scallions and cut off the whites. Reserve the whites for the paste and chop the greens in one inch sections.
  9. Roughly chop the apple so the blender can handle it.
  10. Chop the Ginger a bit and combine with the apple, scallion whites, smoked paprika and 1 Tbsp kosher salt in the blender with the water and coconut aminos.  Blend until smooth.  
  11. Rinse the cabbage, drain and then add all the ingredients to the large bowl and toss together.
  12. Carefully scoop the mixture into the sanitized jars and beat down with a wooden spoon or french rolling pin until you have at least 2″ space at the top.  There is an actual tool for this but as I try my best to be minimalist I use what I have.  Now don’t freak out!  You don’t need brine for this one as it ferments better in it’s own juices and the salt.  Really.  Set the fermenting weights or a ziplock full of water (sealed) and close the lid.  
  13. Leave for a week or so.  Enjoy with EVERYTHING. 

When I’ve made kimchi I use it like I use sriracha.  I know that’s weird but I love it.  “I can’t feel my face when I’m with you!! But I love it!” 

What do YOU like to eat with your kimchi?

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