RECIPE: Kimchi

People & Culture

Kimchi, Korea

So here we are, just about the middle of January of 2019. This is usually when the well-intended diet resolutions – made right after the glittering Times Square ball drops – start to slowly dissipate. But don’t worry. Rather than trying to fully omit the “bad” foods from your diet (everything in moderation, I always say), how about doing away with the guilt and ensuring you eat enough of the right foods, such as kimchi.

If you’re a follower of health trends, you know last year there’d been a lot said about probiotic foods. These are fermented foods that encourage growth of the good and healthy bacteria in your gut. Foods such as yogurt, kefir, tempeh, sauerkraut, and others, including kimchi. Kimchi is a side dish originating from Korea, and is made mainly of cabbage. It’s different from its German cousin, sauerkraut, in that it offers a few more ingredients and a different flavouring. In fact, depending on your taste, kimchi can be downright addictive.

You can enjoy kimchi as a side dish with just about anything. Even adding just a tablespoon of this vitamin- and mineral-packed food as a pickle to your plate of pasta for instance, is known to help promote digestive health, lower cholesterol, aid with weight loss, and offer many other health benefits.

With this easy-to-make recipe for kimchi, you can adjust the spice level and know you’re getting fresh ingredients with no artificial additives sometimes found in the store bought varieties.

Eat well when you can, don’t sweat the odd indulgence, and savour the possibilities of what a new year may bring.

View of downtown cityscape and Seoul tower in Seoul, South Korea
View of Seoul’s downtown cityscape and Seoul Tower

Servings: Makes 4 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium Napa cabbage, cut into 2-inch strips
  • 1/4-1/2 cup kosher or non-iodized salt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons ginger, minced
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce or salted shrimp paste, or 3 tablespoons water
  • 1-4 tablespoons Korean red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • 1 large daikon radish, peeled and cut into 1-inch matchsticks
  • 2 bunches green onions, chopped in 1-inch pieces

Directions:

  1. Place cabbage strips in a large bowl and sprinkle with salt. Massage the salt into all pieces until cabbage starts to soften. Place a heavy plate on top of the mixture, adding a weight on top of the plate, if needed. Allow cabbage to sit for 1-2 hours until wilted and water has been released.
  2. Discard water and rinse the cabbage 2-3 times until salt is removed. Drain in a colander for 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, make the spice paste.
  3. For the spice paste, combine garlic, ginger, and sugar, along with fish sauce (or shrimp paste or water) in a large bowl. Stir until it becomes a smooth paste. Add the pepper flakes to the mixture. (For a mild flavour, start with 1 tablespoon and add to taste.)
  4. Add cabbage to the spice paste and thorough mix it through. Add the radish and green onion, combining all ingredients really well.
  5. Once combined, place mixture in an airtight jar, pressing down and packing tightly so that the mixture is submerged in its own liquid. Close lid tightly on jar and allow to sit at room temperature for 2-5 days. Place jar on a plate, as the mixture may bubble over while fermenting.
  6. Each day of fermentation, remove the lid to release gases, pressing down on the mixture with a back of a spoon to keep it submerged. You can taste a sample each day to decide if the level of fermentation is to your liking.
  7. After 2-5 days of fermentation, store kimchi in refrigerator. You can eat it right away, but would taste best after two weeks to let the flavours infuse. Kimchi can stay refrigerated for a few months, provided it’s always immersed in its liquids.