My kitchen has taken on a rather distinctive odor, as one jar replaces another in my quest to create the perfect Kimchi for my cooking classes. Recently I served up a side dish of Kimchi to some willing students and we all agreed it was like taking a digestive enzyme. It’s something like Jimmy Cagney telling the audience, “my mother thanks you, my father thanks you…”, but in this case, my digestive system thanks me by working more efficiently.
Kimchi is the Korean name for a form of cultured vegetables usually made up of cabbage, carrots, green onions, garlic and ginger. When these foods are fermented the bacteria, yeasts or molds used in the process, predigest the food, meaning they break down the carbohydrates, fats and proteins to create Probiotics, which are friendly, life giving bacteria beneficial to the gastrointestinal system. Your body needs these super Probiotics in order to function properly.
Kimchi is high in fiber, yet low in calories, and it provides 80 percent of the daily requirement of vitamin C and carotene. Also rich in enzymes, vitamin A, thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), calcium and iron, and loaded with friendly bacterial cultures Lactobacilli. Plus it is very easy to make. All it requires is about 15 minutes of chopping and the next day spooning it all into a glass jar to sit on your counter for a good 5 days.
Here’s the recipe I’ve been using, but just know that I like my Kimchi spicy, so you may want to reduce or eliminate the hot peppers to suit your palate. Tasty and delicious, serve this alongside your salad and main dish to help break down those big clumps of food you forgot to chew properly because you were in too much of a hurry (again?) to sit quietly and chew each bite to liquid.
Yields 3 quarts
1 head Chinese or regular cabbage
1 large carrot
1 white radish, such as daikon
2 scallions, thinly sliced or 1 leek,
2 Tbs. sea salt
1/2 cup water
3” piece ginger, peeled, minced
2 clove garlic, chopped
2 to 4 hot red peppers, dried 2 inches long, split or 1 Tbs. chili powder (optional)
1. Slice the cabbage lengthwise into quarters. Remove the tough core and
slice into 2 inch long pieces.
2. Slice the carrot and radishes lengthwise and then into thin half moon pieces. Slice the green onions or cut the leek into half moons.
3. In a large bowl, toss cabbage, carrot and radishes with the scallions, and salt. Cover loosely and let stand overnight on counter.
4. The next morning drain the liquid from the vegetables into a bowl. In a blender puree the water, ginger, garlic and peppers until smooth. Add to the vegetables mixing well.
5. Pack the vegetables into a large sterilized jar or 3 quart jars. Pour reserved liquid into the jars. If more liquid is needed to cover vegetables, add more water.
6. Cover loosely with a lid and let sit at room temperature for 3 to 5 days to ferment. The liquid will bubble and the flavor will become sour.
7. When done refrigerate the Kim Chee for 3 to 4 days. The cabbage will become translucent and will be ready to serve.