As some of you know, our twin girls are Korean. They have been embracing their ‘asian-ness’ quite a bit in the last year, in different ways. One of our girls has embraced Korean food with gusto, which has surprised us since she’s always been our ‘mac & cheese’ girl. She tried kimchi for the first time about a year ago. She said this about her first experience with kimchi:
“I hated the taste of it at first. But my body liked it, so I had to try it again. Then I started to like it.”
Isn’t that the way it is with many fermented foods? The same thing happened to me with kimchi, which was the first actual fermented vegetable mix that I ever tried… it was such an unfamiliar taste (and smell) that I didn’t like it. But my body did… it started to crave it, so I had to try again.
That was 15 years ago… and now I have finally made my own!
I really like this Nourishing Traditions recipe for kimchi. It’s simple, it has been ‘westernized’ a bit but the end result is very Korean tasting. It’s also fun to shop for the ingredients at the asian market with the girls.
My daughter loves to eat kimchi and plain rice. I love it with beef bulgogi (recipe coming soon) which is a Korean marinated bbq beef. Koreans eat kimchi at almost every meal, and what a great habit to get into!
Tips for making kimchi
- You can make kimchi without the optional fish sauce but please know that it is REALLY good with it. You can’t exactly taste the fish sauce in the kimchi but it really adds to the depth of the flavors. I’m sure it also helps with fermentation.
- It is also worth it to find the proper Korean chili pepper powder, Kochukaru which is sold in most asian markets. It is not as hot and spicy as it looks, although it does have a kick. Use half as much if you like less hotness. If you can’t find it, don’t despair just grind up the pepper flakes (which are hotter than the korean pepper so you use less).
- Eat kimchi with eggs, meat or even just rice… it’s a tasty way to get some beneficial bacteria!
Kimchi (Korean sauerkraut)
Rating: 2 forks (key) Only one daughter and I will eat this but we LOVE it.
Easy – makes slightly less than 2 quarts
Page in NT: 94
- 1 large head napa cabbage (the type of cabbage is important to get the traditional look of kimchi)
- 1 bunch of spring/green onions
- 1/2 cup grated carrots (optional)
- 1/2 cup daikon radish grated
- 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 Tablespoon freshly grated ginger
- 4 Tablespoons whey
- 1 Tablespoon sea salt (add only 2 teaspoons if you use the fish sauce)
- 1 Tablespoon non-MSG added fermented fish sauce (there’s a recipe in NT that I haven’t made yet, or you can purchase a bottle)
- 1/4 cup of Kochukaru (Korean chili pepper powder – look for this in your Asian market) —- OR —- 1/2 teaspoon dried chile flakes (red pepper flakes)
- Cut each napa cabbage leaf in half lengthwise and cut into 1 inch pieces (bite-sized). Cut the green/spring onions into thin disks and also use most of the green parts too.
- Combine all of the vegetables, the salt and the whey in a large non-reactive bowl. Squeeze the veggies with your hands until juices are released. I usually do this about 10 minutes and it really helps your stress levels.
- Add the garlic, ginger, fish sauce and chili pepper and combine them well into the vegetable mixture.
- Pack the kimchi into quart jars, making sure that there is some liquid above the kimchi. Let sit out on the counter unrefrigerated for 3 days.
- After 3 days, refrigerate the kimchi to slow the fermentation process. You can start using it immediately but it gets even better with age.
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