Kimchi is spicy, fermented cabbage flavoured with garlic, ginger, and chillies which I learnt to love when I spent some time in Seoul. Most Koreans eat a little kimchi with each meal or at least once a day. It is tasty with so many things like Tofu Scramble, Brown Rice, and Veggie Bowls. And it is very healthy because of the living gut bacteria (probiotics) that boost the immune system, energize the body, reduce inflammation, and aid digestion. Kimchi is credited with helping most Koreans avoid obesity by its ability to satisfy even while being low in calorie and fat. It also contains Vitamins A, C, and Potassium. Take my recipe as a starting point and adapt to your personal preference. It has to be stored in the fridge because it is alive. Gochugaru can be bought at Asian Markets or online.
- 1 (650-850 g) Napa / Chinese Cabbage
- 2 TBSP salt
- 1 bunch scallions (green onions), chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 TBSP fresh ginger, minced
- 2-6 TBSP Gochugaru (Korean chilli flakes)
- 2 large carrots, julienne (optional)
- 1 TSP white miso paste for fish taste (optional)
- Wash the cabbage, then drain well and let it dry.
- Once dry, remove the bottom core, quarter and place it (with the carrots) in a large bowl.
- Add the salt and massage into the leaves until it starts to soften and wilt. It will release the water from the cabbage (osmose) and be enough to cover it. Let it soak for around 4 hours at room temperature.
- Wash off all the salt with cold water. Drain, wash, and drain again.
- Put the drained cabbage into a bowl and add scallions, garlic, ginger, and chilli flakes. Massage while wearing gloves as the chilli can irritate your hands.
- Put it into a sterilised, dry jar (boiled in hot water for a minute) and cover with a very thin towel and rubber band to allow air to escape. Leave space at the top for more juice to release.
- Let it sit in a dark and dry place at room temperature to ferment for at least two days (24-72 hours). The longer it ferments the stronger it becomes in flavour and probiotic content. If you like the taste, seal the jar and transfer in the fridge for three days where it will slowly continue to ferment.
- Kimchi keeps in the fridge for months if not years if the cabbage is submerged in the brine.
- Serve it in a small bowl as a side dish, drizzle with sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds and fresh scallions.
- This way of fermentation can also be applied to other foods (beets, zucchini, bell pepper).
- Use different spices (e.g. cumin seeds, curry).
- Add maple syrup or coconut blossom sugar if you want to create a sweet and sour taste.