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Easy Kimchi Recipe for Ultimate Gut Health

April 19, 2014

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Kimchi is one if those dishes that I'd always been a little wary of.  At first, it was fear of the unknown—I had never had kimchi, but I figured the strong fermented flavor wasn’t for me. Oh, how wrong I was! After I finally caved and gave kimchi a shot, I was instantly hooked. The tang, the spice, the crunch. I couldn't get enough!

If you’re unfamiliar with kimchi, let me explain. Kimchi is a traditional Korean fermented food. It usually consists of cabbage, daikon, or radish, all soaked in garlic and spices and allowed to ferment for anywhere from a few days to a few months, until it achieves a unique spicy, sour flavor. Not only is kimchi the perfect complement to just about any Asian-flavored dish, it's also very healthy, particularly for your gut. Kimchi, and fermented foods in general, are full of good bacteria that help to balance out the bacteria in your digestive tract. If you’ve been suffering from indigestion or other gut-related ailments, adding kimchi to your regular diet could help tremendously.

But with all of these health benefits, and even after discovering how much I loved the flavor, I was still wary of making kimchi. As a trained chef, I always try to figure out how to make all of my favorite dishes at home. Kimchi always scared me a bit because its unfamiliarity forced me out of my cooking comfort zone. But after adapting this recipe from The Kitchn, my kimchi fears are long gone, and yours should be too! It's easy to make, and tastes just as good, if not better, than store-bought!

Homemade Kimchi

Adapted from The Kitchn

Ingredients

  • 1 two-pound head Napa cabbage
  • 1/4 cup sea salt or kosher salt 
  • About 12 cups water 
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic 
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger 
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fish oil 
  • 3 tablespoons Korean red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup Korean radish or daikon, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • ½ cup carrots, cut into matchsticks 
  • 4 scallions, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

Instructions

  1. Cut the cabbage lengthwise into quarters and discard the ends. Cut each quarter crosswise into 2-inch-wide strips. Place the cabbage in a large bowl and add the salt. Toss until the cabbage is coated, and then pour in enough water to cover the cabbage (this will be about 12 cups). Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for at least 12 hours.
  2. Rinse the cabbage under cold water and squeeze out the excess liquid gently.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the garlic, ginger, sugar, and fish oil and mix to form a smooth paste. Mix in the Korean red pepper flakes (This amount can be adjusted depending on how spicy you want the end result to be, I recommend anywhere from 1 to 5 tablespoons).
  4. In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, radish, carrots, scallions, and the seasoning paste.
  5. Put on gloves, and then gently massage the spice into cabbage.
  6. Pack the kimchi tightly into mason jars; it should fill about two 1-quart jars. Seal the jars tightly.
  7. Let the jar stand at room temperature in a cool, dark place for at least 24 hours, but up to 5 days. The longer you let the kimchi sit, the better the flavor will be!
  8. Every 12 hours, open the jars of kimchi and press down on the vegetables until they are submerged in brine. This will allow the fermentation gases to escape. After 1 to 5 days, refrigerate the jar. Kimchi can be kept refrigerated for up to one month.

What’s your favorite way to serve kimchi? Share with us in the comment section below!