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 1/4 c salt (with a bit extra for a brine)
- 1/2 c red pepper flakes (NOT crushed red pepper powder)*
- 2 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tbsp minced ginger
- about 5 green onions
- 1 tbsp fish sauce (totally optional)
- about 1/8 c sugar
- Chop the cabbage into pieces a bit larger than bite size. By the end, they will have shrunk. Use the whole thing. Place it all in a large bowl, with enough room to toss it.
- Dissolve some salt in a bowl of warm water. Pour over the cabbage and toss so that everything gets wet. Let sit at room temperature for about four hours.
- After your cabbage has reduced, wash it well.
- Mix the red pepper flakes with about 1/4 c warm water. It should be pasty, not runny. Add the paste to the cabbage. (sidenote: You can also buy the paste in an Asian market. It’s called gochujang)
- 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 I think your hands are clean, hours later it still could burn my eyes.
- 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, but close them up well and leave them out at room temperature for 24 hours to ferment.
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?
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…