Kimchi is one of the healthiest foods I know of. Chock full of nutrients, it’s also one of the tastiest (if you like spicy food). Put simply, kimchi is fermented cabbage. That fermentation process gives us some outstanding bacteria that help with digestion and all sorts of things. Koreans eat it with everything; so can you. Plus, it’s explicitly on the 4 Hour Body list.
You can buy kimchi in the store if you know where to find one, but it’s not hard to make. It’s not time consuming either, although a lot of time passes between start and finish. Here’s how you can make your own.
- 1 medium to large napa cabbage (about the size of a football)
- about 1/8 c salt
- 1/2 c red pepper flakes (NOT crushed red pepper powder)*
- 2 Tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp minced ginger
- about 5 green onions
- 1 Tbsp fish sauce (totally optional)
- about 1/8 c sugar (to feed the ferment, you won’t actually get sugar in your final product)
- Chop the cabbage into pieces a bit larger than bite size, and to be traditional wash it three times. Use the whole thing (except for maybe the knobby bit at the bottom). Place it all in a large bowl or bin, with enough room to toss it.
- Add your salt to the cabbage and mix really well. You should start to feel the cabbage getting wet.
- Mix the red pepper flakes with about 1/4 c warm water. It should be pasty, not runny. Add the paste to the cabbage.
- Add the garlic, ginger, green onions, and sugar. The sugar helps the fermentation process. Your kimchi should not taste sweet in the end, so use some judgment on exactly how much sugar you use. If you’re using fish sauce, add it now too.
- Toss the mixture. Hands work best, but be careful. If you’ve got plastic gloves, use them. I learned the hard way that even if you think your hands are clean, hours later you can still burn your eyes accidentally.
- After it’s all mixed, bottle it up. I have a huge pickle jar I use, but several smaller ones will suffice. You should get a pretty substantial amount of kimchi out of this recipe. Leave some space in the top of the bottles, close the bottle but leave it slightly open to vent. Let it sit out at room temperature for 24-48 hours. If your bottle is REALLY full, put them on a baking sheet to catch any spillage as sometimes the mixture seems to expand at first as it ferments.
You can start eating your kimchi right away, but it definitely tastes better after at least a week of sitting in your fridge. I would also recommend buying some at a Korean market if you’ve never had it before. It helps to know what it should taste like to determine how much of certain ingredients you want to add.
My first kimchi was too gingery and sweet. My second was amazing. My third was too dry. Eventually you get the hang of it, and it’s worth the effort. Besides – how many white kids know how to make a Korean staple? Even my Korean friends say it’s awesome.
Have you had kimchi before? How did you like it? Come on back and let me know how you like the recipe!
*It’s called gochugaru. You may find it in an Asian market, but if you have any Korean friends or know of a Korean restaurant, ask where you can get it. Trust me, using crushed red pepper is not the same…