Making kimchi at home has been a long time “to make” on my list, yet I had never made it until it became evident to me by my doctor that I needed to eat more probiotics to improve my tummy health. Kimchi is a lacto-fermented cabbage with Korean spices. It is great in many foods, and so good for you. It has been around for hundreds of years, and families each have their own recipe using different ingredients.
Here is my story…
I went to the eye doctor for a check up. I have been having the sensation that I have always have something in my eyes. She discovered I have very dry eyes. My tears evaporate in three seconds when normal is ten seconds. She went on to ask if I have rosacea. Rosacea in case you don’t know, is a skin redness on the cheeks and nose. I have it on my cheeks, and have for years. Apparently it gets worse after thirty, awesome. She went on to tell me rosacea can cause dry eyes!
We then started talking about my options because dry eyes is not something you want getting worse as you get older, it is best to nip the issue asap. Basically we talked about clearing the rosacea to clear the dry eye issue. That makes sense to me. Then we talked about rosacea being a direct reflection of tummy issues. Skin can reflect problems in the tummy, I have read a lot about that, but never really done anything about it ever.
It was time to do something about it because it is affecting more than the appearance of my skin now. She gave me two options. Option one was to take an antibiotic to kill the bad (and good) bacteria in my belly to see if it would clear up my skin. Option two was to take a ton of probiotics to start balancing the flora in my belly. And following the pill probiotics, start eating more fermented foods that help the healthy bacteria in my tummy stay balanced. I opted for option two, I am more of a natural approach kind of gal.
Moral of my long non food related story is I needed to add a certain type of food to benefit my health. So I am making homemade kimchi to incorporate it into my diet more often. You can certainly buy kimchi from Asian grocery stores, and I have found it at my favorite Korean restaurants as well. But for now I will make batches once a month and make sure to eat it weekly to increase the good balancing gut flora. I’ll report back in a couple of months to let you know how it is going. We are sure this going to take a while, but I am also sure it will work! Food as thy medicine!
Homemade kimchi here we go! Have you ever eaten kimchi?
I followed the basic instructions and recipe from The Kitchn.
How to Make Kimchi at Home
Makes 1 quart
1- 2-pound head napa cabbage
1/4 cup fine sea salt
1 tablespoon garlic, grated, about 5 cloves
1 teaspoon ginger, grated
1 teaspoon sugar, I use organic cane sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce, or 3 tablespoons water if not using any fish products
3 tablespoons gochujang or gochugaru, I used gochujang.
1 cup daikon radish, peeled and cut into matchsticks
4 scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces
Salt: Use salt that is iodine free and free of anti-caking agents. I use fine sea salt for everything.
Water: Chlorinated water can prevent fermentation, use spring, distilled, or filtered water.
Seafood flavoring and vegetarian options: Seafood gives kimchi the umami flavor. Different regions use different fish products. I use fish sauce. You could also use salted shrimp paste, or oysters. Use 2 tablespoons of one or a combination of several. The Kitchn recommends kelp powder for vegetarian kimchi. Use 3/4 teaspoon mixed with 3 tablespoons water. I have never used this.
1. Cut the cabbage lengthwise into quarters, remove the cores. Cut each quarter crosswise into 1-2 inch wide strips. Place the cabbage and salt in a large bowl. Using your hands (gloves optional), massage the salt into the cabbage until it starts to soften, then add water to cover the cabbage. Put a plate on top and weigh it down with something heavy, like a jar or can of beans. Set aside for 2 hours.
2. Rinse the cabbage under cold water 3 times and drain in a colander for 15-20 minutes. Rinse and dry the bowl you used for salting, and set it aside.
3. Combine the garlic, ginger, sugar, and seafood flavor (or 3 tablespoons water) in a small bowl and mix to form a smooth paste. Mix in the gochujang, using 1 tablespoon for mild and up to 5 tablespoons for spicy. I use 3 tablespoons, medium spicy.
4. Gently squeeze any water from the cabbage and return it to the bowl with the radish, scallions, and paste. Using your hands, gently work the paste into the vegetables until mixed well.
5. Pack the kimchi into the jar, pressing down on it until the brine rises to cover the vegetables. Leave at least 1-inch of space at the top. Use a clean damp paper towel to clean the rim, and top of jar area. Seal the jar with a lid.
6. Allow the jar sit at room temperature in a dry dark area for 1-5 days on a plate. You may see bubbles inside the jar and brine may seep out of the lid.
7. Check on the kimchi once a day. Press down on the vegetables with a spoon to keep them under the brine. Taste a little at this point, too! When the kimchi tastes ripe enough for your liking, transfer the jar to the refrigerator. You may eat it right away, but it is tastier after a couple of weeks. It will keep in the fridge for several months.
Kimchi is tasty on its own, especially a few bites a day to add probiotics to your diet. Kimchi fried rice, add it to your soup, eggs, or as a side dish are a few ways to add it to your diet as well.
I am not a dietitian or professional, these opinions are my own and from what I have read.