Delicious, versatile kimchi is easy to make at home and can be tailored to your liking.
Kimchi is a Korean dish of fermented vegetables, most often Napa cabbage. Don’t let the fermenting process deter you, it’s actually very easy to make and the fermentation process provides wonderful gut health benefits. Kimchi contains Lactobacilli bacteria, which are amazing for creating and maintaining a healthy gut microflora. Also a key bacteria in getting rid of a candida infection.
Kimchi is traditionally made with Napa cabbage, but you’re welcome to mix and match vegetables as you see fit. I love to use purple cabbage, especially when it’s in season at a great low price. Using both Napa cabbage and purple cabbage creates a really beautiful kimchi.
Here’s a recipe for making a small batch of kimchi. Once you’ve made a batch you’ll know what to adjust to make it just for you.
1 Medium head of Napa cabbage (about 2 pounds) or purple cabbage if you’d like
2½ tsp Canning/pickling salt
2 TBS Minced garlic
1 tsp Fresh ginger, about 1 inch of peeled grated ginger
1 tsp Sugar (for the bacteria to consume during fermentation)
1-3 TBS Korean red pepper flakes called gochugaru
½ Cup Daikon radish, peeled and cut matchstick style
1-2 Carrots, peeled and cut matchstick style
4 Scallions, Cut into 2-inch pieces
Wash cabbage and slice into 2 inch strips. Place in a large bowl and add salt. Massage salt into cabbage until the cabbage begins to soften. If you have dry skin or any cuts on your hands, you may want to wear a pair of kitchen gloves for this.
Once cabbage begins to soften add just enough water to cover all the cabbage and place a plate on top, weighing it down with something like a can of beans. This step kills the unhealthy bacteria and creates the right texture of cabbage. Let cabbage sit like this for an hour or two. This is a good time to wash and chop all your other vegetables and read up on the benefits of fermented foods.
Put cabbage in colander in the sink and rinse thoroughly 3 or 4 times while moving the cabbage around to get off as much salt as possible. Allow to continue to drain for 10 to 15 minutes.
While cabbage continues to drain, blend garlic, ginger, sugar and the Korean red pepper flakes into a paste.
Press cabbage up against the colander to drain off any excess water that hasn’t left and then add it to a large mixing bowl. Add in daikon radish, carrots and spice paste you just made. Hand mix all ingredients until the spices evenly coat all the vegetables. This is another step where kitchen gloves may be helpful.
Place kimchi into 2 to 3 wide mouth pint mason jars. Press the kimchi down until the brine comes to the top. Leave a minimum of 1 inch of space from the top of the kimchi mixture to the top of the jar for food safety purposes. This prevents pathogenic microbes from growing in your kimchi. Put lids on the jars and allow to ferment for 2 to 5 days minimum out of direct sunlight.
Enjoy as a condiment, addition to a dish or all on its own. Make notes of what you would like to change for the next time to make it your very own.
For more on what probiotics (healthy bacteria) are and what they can offer your health, read Oliver Barnett’s piece Probiotics.