Kimchi is a traditional Korean dish made with fermented, salted vegetables. The traditional recipe contains Chinese cabbage and seasonings like sugar, onions, salt, ginger, garlic, and chili peppers or chili paste.
People developed methods of food preservation — pickling and fermentation, in order to have food available during the months that the gardens weren’t thriving. This process of fermentation involves using enzymes that create chemical changes in food.
Health Benefits of Kimchi
All of the elements in Kimchi are beneficial for our body, especially our intestines that feed our digestive tract, bloodstream, and brains. Kimchi adds flavors to any type of food; meat, potatoes, noodles, rice, bread, tortillas, and it can be used as a side dish or appetizer.
The probiotics within kimchi help to keep the intestinal flora in an optimal state of health and help balance the good and bad bacteria in the gut.
- 2 lbs cabbage
- 8 oz Korean or daikon Raddish (peeled and cut into matchsticks)
- 1 large carrot (peeled and cut into matchstick)
- onion (cut into chunks)
- 4 medium scallions (trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces)
- 2 tbsp fish sauce or salted shrimp paste (optional)
- 1-5 tbsp red chili flakes (1 for mild flavor)
- 1 tsp granulated sugar
- 1 tsp fresh ginger (grated and peeled)
- 5-6 cloves garlic (grated)
- ¼ cup iodine-free sea salt or kosher salt
- water (filtered or distilled )
- Cut the cabbage, through the stem, lengthwise right into quarters. Cut the cores from each of the pieces. Make sure you cut each quarter crosswise to strips and are about 2-inch in width.
- In a large bowl add the cabbage and sprinkle salt all over it. You can use your hands to mix the salt properly with the cabbage until it starts to soften.
- Add water just enough to cover the cabbage. You have to weigh down the cabbage with something heavy like a plate on top of the cabbage. Leave for 1-2 hours.
- First rinse the cabbage and then drain it, at least three times, thoroughly in cold water. While you prepare the spice paste, leave it aside to drain in a colander for about 15-20 minutes.
- You can use the same bowl you used for salting, but make sure you rinse and dry the bowl first. Now add water, fish sauce (or shrimp paste), the sugar, garlic, ginger, and stir until you have a smooth paste. When the paste is ready add the red pepper/chili flakes and stir.
- Now grab the cabbage and gently squeeze out any water. You can now add the cabbage to the spice paste and then put to the mixture the other vegetables (scallions, radish, onion, etc.) and stir well the mixture.
- With your hands, gently coat the paste over the vegetables. It is a good idea to use gloves, in order to protect your hands from smells and stings.
- Pack the kimchi in a 1-quart jar. Press the cabbage with your hands down until the liquid that comes out of the kimchi rises to cover the vegetables. An inch at least leave space on top and then seal the jar.
- Leave the jar for 1-5 days at cool room temperature, protected from direct sunlight. Leave a plate under to catch the overflow. It is normal during fermentation to see out of the lid bubbles inside the jar and brine.
- At least once per day, check the kimchi opening by the jar and pressing down on the vegetables with a spoon so that the vegetables remain submerged under the brine and check the taste from time to time. Transfer the jar to the refrigerator, when the kimchi tastes ripe enough to your liking. It is best in a week or two.
Nutritional information should be considered an estimate only; please always consult with a nutritionist, a registered dietician or your physician for any specific health-related questions.
It is always better for your health to use clean ingredients if possible organic – with no pesticides, antibiotics and hormones.