If you have never tried Korean Kimchi, you should. Not only is it delicious but the health benefits are great, too.
WHAT IS KIMCHI?
Kimchi is a spicy, fermented cabbage and vegetables that is traditionally served as a side dish or included as an ingredient in other dishes such as stir-fried rice, soups, and stews, or on sandwiches. The main ingredients are Napa cabbage, carrots, spring onions, garlic, ginger, radishes, fish sauce, and red chilies. If you cannot find the Korean red chili, you can substitute gochujang which is what I used for this recipe.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF KIMCHI
Many studies and much information has been given over the past decade concerning “gut health”. Gut health is the balance of bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract that aids in digestion.
One great way to balance the bacteria is through fermented foods. Fermentation creates probiotic bacteria which is needed for gut balance and proper digestion.
Other health benefits of kimchi and other fermented foods include
- helps fight inflammation
- boosts the immune system
- assists in weight loss
- high in vitamin K which helps your blood clot and prevents your bones from becoming brittle
- may reduce heart problems by reducing cholesterol
HOW TO MAKE KOREAN KIMCHI
Begin by washing the Napa Cabbage and cutting it into one-inch squares. Place the cabbage into a large bowl and sprinkle with 1/4 cup sea salt. You could also use kosher salt, but do not used iodized (table) salt. Massage the salt into the cabbage. Add just enough water to cover the cabbage. Cover the bowl and allow it to sit on the counter for about 6 hours. Drain the cabbage reserving the liquid that is released. Rinse the cabbage to remove excess salt.
In the meantime, prepare the vegetables you will be adding to the kimchi. The ingredients used are not “set in stone”. What I have used is just the basis for the vegetables. If you wish to add more of one ingredient or less of another, that’s perfectly fine. You could also add other firm vegetables that you like. Make it the way you like it.
Clean and cut the scallions into 2-inch pieces. Peel and thinly slice the radishes. The traditional Korean Kimchi uses daikon radishes. Those are not always easy to find so I used red radishes instead. I also like the bit of color it adds. Peel the carrots and cut them into 2-inch matchsticks. Place these ingredients into the bowl with the cabbage.
In the bowl of a food processor, add the ginger, garlic, onion or shallot, fish sauce, gochujang, and sugar. Pulse until it forms a paste and is thoroughly combined. Taste for seasonings and adjust it to your preferences. This recipe is not very “hot” because a few in my family that don’t like spicy foods. If you want it hotter just add more gochujang or you could even add red pepper flakes.
Add the sauce to the cabbage mixture and use your gloved hands to mix it until every piece of cabbage has sauce.
Press the cabbage mixture into a half-gallon jar. You could also use two quart jars. Press the cabbage mixture down until the liquid comes over the top of the vegetables. If there is not enough liquid, pour in enough of the reserved brine to cover the vegetables. Place a lid on the jar(s) and sit on the counter in a cool place, preferably 60-65 degrees, for 2-3 days.
At the end of the time, check to see if the kimchi has started fermenting. You should see tiny bubbles around the edge. You may need to tap the lid to start the bubbling. If no bubbles appear, allow it to sit for another 1-2 days. Once it has fermented to your desired taste, place it in the refrigerator. It will continue to ferment but much more slowly. The longer it ferments the more pungent and softer it will become.
- 1.5 pounds napa cabbage washed and chopped into 1" pieces
- 2 each carrots peeled and cut into matchsticks
- 4 each green onions cut into 2" pieces
- 4 each radishes, sliced thin may use daikon radishes
- 1/4 cup sea salt may use kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon garlic chopped
- 1 teaspoon ginger minced
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons gochujang or more, to taste
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- reserved brine as needed
- Chop Napa cabbage into one-inch pieces. Place into a large bowl.
- Sprinkle with salt and add enough water to cover the cabbage. Cover and let sit on the counter for 6-8 hours.
- Drain the cabbage reserving the brine. Return the cabbage to the bowl.
- Add the prepped carrots, onions, and radishes to the cabbage.
- In a food processor, add the gochujang, fish sauce, garlic, ginger, and sugar. Pulse until smooth.
- Add the sauce to the cabbage. With gloved hands, work the sauce into the cabbage.
- Firmly press the cabbage mixture into two 1-quart sized jars or one half-gallon jar. You want the liquid to cover the cabbage. If there isn't enough liquid, add the reserved brine until the cabbage is covered.
- Place a lid on the jar(s), set in a cool, dark place for 2-3 days. Check for small bubbles around the edge which shows the kimchi is fermenting. You may leave it longer for a more tart taste.
- Once it has fermented to your preference, place in the refrigerator. It will last for several months. NOTE: It will soften the longer it sits.
If you are trying to add more fermented items to your diet, you might also enjoy these Lacto-Fermented Carrots