Easy, Zesty Kimchi
This is a traditional Korean dish of fermented cabbage and spices, wonderful as a condiment or side dish, adding crunch and spice. Include in stir-fries, sandwiches, fried rice or in the morning with eggs for breakfast! You can use it any place you would use sauerkraut or pickles—on burgers, sausages or hot dogs—for a great punch of zesty flavor! The possibilities for variations to this recipe are endless—try adding various fresh peppers, Jeruselum artichokes, seaweeds or even tomatillos, jalapeños and cilantro (minus the ginger and radish) for a “salsa verde” version.
Crunching on kimchi not only gives you the probiotic power of a fermented food, it also features many functional food stars: garlic, chilies and ginger, which all have immune-enhancing properties. The headliner of course is cabbage—the king of the cruciferous vegetables, the family that kale and broccoli hail from. The cruciferous vegetables are well-known for their anti-cancer and detoxing properties. Cabbage is also one of the highest food sources of glutamine, an amino acid that is the preferred fuel for our small intestine, where we absorb the nutrients from food. Glutamine helps to heal intestinal permeability, one of the causes of food sensitivities. To sum it up, kimchi has a multitude of properties that make it a vital food for improving digestive health and it is delicious to boot!
Easy, Zesty Kimchi
- 1 lb/500 g napa cabbage
- 4 Tbsp sea salt
- 4 cups water
- 4 red radishes or a daikon radish
- 2 carrots
- 1 leek or 3 scallions
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 4 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated
- 3 hot red chilies (any kind) or ½ tsp dried chili flakes or 2 tsp hot sauce (without preservatives)
- Wide-mouth glass jars
Instructions: Day one…
- Prepare a brine by dissolving 4 tablespoons of salt in 4 cups of water.
- Chop the cabbage coarsely and wash/rinse well.
- Slice radish and carrots.
- Toss vegetables in a large bowl (preferably not metal) and pour the brine over. Mix well.
- Press the vegetables down with a plate that will allow them to stay submerged in the brine.
- Rest a large weight on top of the plate (e.g. a heavy mug/bowl or glass measure cup filled with water).
- Cover the whole bowl with a large tea towel or cloth.
- Let sit overnight.
The next day…
- Drain the liquid off the vegetables, reserving the brine.
- Prepare a paste with the spices: chop the leek or onion and garlic, grate the ginger and de-seed the chilies and chop them as well.
- Mix the vegetables with this spice paste in your large bowl, combining thoroughly.
- Next, pack this mix snugly into glass jars, pressing down well until the brine rises to the top. You will want the vegetables thoroughly submerged in brine so add more from the reserved liquid from the original draining.
- Cover the tops tightly with a cloth (I use clean wash cloths or napkins and elastics) and keep at room temperature for about three days to one week, trying it every day after the third day. It will become more sour and softer each day. You will know it is fermented when it tastes ripe and it has the sour taste and soft or crunchy texture you prefer. Now transfer to the fridge and enjoy!