Last December I was busy making and selling daifuku (mochi filled with adzuki bean paste) for Christmas. Making 120 pieces of mochis a day is not what I have in mind. But at least I know not to make a huge batch in one day. Then, the other day, when my brother saw four bottles of kimchi on our kitchen countertop, he teased me, “So you’re selling kimchi now instead of mochi?”
“Uhm, yes, why not?”
Well, the last syllable rhymes but he forgot to mention the gnocchi that I was making last the two months. But anyway, I’ve been making kimchi these past three months doing different variations every time I make them, starting with Napa cabbage as the main ingredient and building up ingredients from Korean radish to carrots, while garlic and ginger are always added for extra zing and character. Making kimchi is more of an experiment than following a recipe to heart. I'm still not yet done with my other variations. And don't be surprised if you see a bitter gourd kimchi.
I also added some pureed apple, pear and onion to the mixture (an idea from Dr. Ben Kim.) for extra sweetness. Most kimchis in Korea are made by cutting the Napa cabbage in half lengthwise and filled with the spicy mixture in between the layers of salted leaves, but I prefer to cut them into smaller pieces and toss with the other ingredients. The first time I made kimchi, I was only using a moderate-size bowl. The second time, I’m using a bigger bowl and finally I’ve been using two large bowls because I don’t have a bowl bigger than the one I have. Other kimchis have additional ingredients such as rice flour mixed with water to aid in the fermentation process and some people add tiny salted fish to add flavor to it. Well, kimchi could be insipid sometimes but adding fish sauce or soy sauce should also be used moderately.
Kimchi is a lacto-fermented product that is a good source of probiotics. The procedure of adding salt at the very beginning deactivates the bacteria so it can be stored for a longer period of time. While the salt acts as natural preservative, the lactic acid is produced during the maturing process which suppresses the growth of harmful bacteria.
Koreans are known for their flawless and beautiful skin and that is one of the many benefits of eating kimchi. The health benefits are numerous but I mentioned the benefit of having beautiful skin because people would be encouraged to eat it, just like mom. :) She doesn’t want to eat it but the moment I mentioned that, she actually asked for it. Although she only asked for it once. When I did a post about kefir, I mentioned that it greatly benefits the digestive system, and kimchi and other fermented food does the same thing. They are beneficial for restoring the intestinal flora by promoting and multiplying the growth of good bacteria. While minerals cannot be produced in the body, you can synthesize vitamins in your small intestine by eating fermented foods.
Napa Cabbage Kimchi
Makes enough kimchi to fill about 6 bottles of 500 gram jars
2 whole Napa cabbage (about 2 pounds)
½ cup coarse sea salt
2 large carrots
3 –inch piece fresh ginger root
½ garlic bulb
8 green onions (Philippine size)
½ Fuji apple
2 fragrant pears
1 small onion
½ cup water
½ cup whey
½ cup Korean red chili powder
½ cup warm water
2 tbsp naturally fermented soy sauce
To prepare the cabbage, cut it in half and remove the core in the middle. Cut each half into 2-inch pieces crosswise. If the cabbage is huge, I cut the lower sturdy part into four. Rinse the cabbage thoroughly. Place the cabbage in a large bowl and sprinkle with salt. Toss to combine. Then add the warm water just enough to cover the cabbage. Let it sit for four hours.
To prepare the other ingredients, peel and grate the carrots, ginger and garlic. Wash, trim and cut the green onions into 1-inch pieces. Peel the roughly chop the apple, pears and onion, then place in a blender with the water and whey, and blend until pureed.
To prepare the kimchi, drain the cabbage and gently squeeze to remove the excess water and transfer to a bowl. Add the grated carrots, ginger, garlic, chopped green onion and the apple, pear and onion puree. In a small bowl, combine the chili powder and water until it forms to a paste. Add to the cabbage mixture. Then add the soy sauce. Now, put on a pair of gloves and toss all the ingredients together. While I’m tossing the mixture, I also lean the cabbage to release some of their juice. When done, divide the kimchi into 6 individual clean glass jars pressing it down to remove the air bubbles. Cover and leave the bottles at room temperature for 1 to 3 days.
Gluten-Free; Vegetarian; Dairy-Free (if whey is not used)
Fill the bottles only three-fourths of the jar. The contents will expand as the kimchi ferments.
If you prefer kimchi that is less sour, ferment them for only 1 day. They will continue fermenting even if you store them in the refrigerator.
I check on the kimchi the following day up to day three by pressing cabbage leaves with a spoon so they are covered with the liquid mixture.
You can use water if whey is not available.
Here are other variations of Kimchi from other food bloggers I know.
- How to make Korean Kimchi - Keep Learning Keep Smiling
- Almost Kimchi with a Thai Twist - Acquired Taste
- How to make Kimchi - My Fabulous Recipes
- Kimchi - Cherry on a Cake
Love and light,