As I’ve matured, I’ve learned that I love fermented foods. I especially love fermented cabbage in the forms of saurkraut and kimchi. I made this batch when my little sister was visiting, which was amusing because she literally runs away from it. Admittedly, I too ran as a child when our mom chowed down. We thought it smelled bad but then I saw the light when my mom made a friend of mine try some. She had a jar of vegetarian kimchi (some regional recipes for kimchi include a fish based seasoning) and I figured I should be a good friend and try it too. I changed my mind about it then but, being a teenager at the time, didn’t admit it until much later in life! Back then, I thought the idea of fermenting food was weird…and then I learned how delicious fermented things are. The fact that nutrients actually increase through the fermentation process is a wonderful bonus.
If you’ve wanted to try making (or eating) fermented foods, kimchi is a good one to start with. This is the first food I learned to ferment.
My kimchi recipe
*If you don’t want to have orange hands for the next few days, then you’ll want to wear gloves!
- Rub salt firmly into the leaves of 4 large cabbages (nappa or bok choy are best because they’re softer but any cabbage will work), some carrot strips, and spring onions
- Soak the vegetables in cold salted water
- Create the paste: Mix together crushed and finely diced ginger (and some tiny strips), freshly minced garlic, hot pepper paste, some dried chilli flakes for extra heat, a dash of vinegar, a dash of oil, and sesame seeds. Make more than you think you’ll need. I made twice the amount and it was perfect. Mix it all until the concoction is closer to a paste than a liquid.
- After sterilizing the jars, smash and rub the paste into each piece of vegetable before placing it in the jar. Pack everything in very tightly and make sure that the top vegetables are covered in liquid/sauce/paste so they do not dry out or mold.
- Place the lid on very lightly so that bubbles can escape.
- Let it sit for 4-5 days on the counter (this is based on around 60 F temperatures, it will be far quicker in warmer weather) before placing it in the fridge. I like to sit the jars on a tray or plate in case some juice bubbles over the sides.
- I like to take a spoon and gently push the kimchi down every day or so, allowing the deeper bubbles to escape and ensuring that everything is still covered in liquid.
Serve kimchi as a side dish, use it to fry up rice or noodles, add it to bibimbap or seaweed rolls, or even add it to a sourdough sandwich with sprouted lentils. Any way that you eat it will be delicious.