My favourite Kimchi

This is one of my favourite fermenting recipes from my book, Eat Yourself Healthy.

An iconic condiment in Korean culture, this ancient flavour bomb is said to be one of the secrets behind the Koreans' long and healthy lives. In fact, a study published in the Lancet journal has forecasted that South Korean women will be the first in the world to have an average life expectancy above ninety years by 2030!

Kimchi is known as a 'wild ferment’ as it uses the microbes naturally found on plants and in the air (versus a culture-based ferment like kefir).

I love kimchi with eggs (my favourite), salads or feta on crackers – the options are endless.

It takes a little longer to prepare than other ferments (such as kefir or yoghurt), so I tend to spend an afternoon every few months preparing my kimchi in bulk. Try it out for yourself and let me know what you think in the comments!

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EQUIPMENT: 500ml glass jar with lid

INGREDIENTS (Serves 8, 40g portions)

Base:

200g Chinese cabbage (or cabbage of choice)

25g sea salt (don't worry, you won't be eating this!)

Toppers:

1 carrot (50g), grated

1 spring onion, diced

50g daikon radish, chopped into matchsticks

1 garlic clove, finely sliced

1 tsp ginger, grated

1 tsp gochugaru powder (available online or at Asian grocers) OR 1/2 tsp chilli powder and 1/2 tsp paprika

1 tbsp tamari (or soy sauce)

METHOD

  1. Rinse the cabbage leaves under running water (to get rid of any residual soil) before chopping to the desired thickness.

  2. Put the cabbage and salt in a bowl. Firmly massage the salt into the cabbage.

  3. Pour 500ml of water, filtered or de-chlorinated, over the cabbage and submerge it by sitting a plate on top. Let it soak for 2 hours.

  4. Drain the soaked cabbage, and rinse three times to get rid of the excess salt. Squeeze out any excess water in the cabbage and place back in a bowl.

  5. Add all the topper ingredients and mix well, before transferring the mixture into a 500ml jar and, using your fist, punching down so there’s a layer of juice separating the raw kimchi and the air above.

  6. Place your glass weight or mini jar on top of the raw kimchi, making sure to submerge all the vegetables.

  7. Screw the lid on and leave at room temperature (ideally, 18–22°C), out of direct sunlight. Each day, check on your kimchi and release any gas that has built up by untwisting the lid a little to let it out.

  8. After 3 days (more in colder climates, less in warmer climates) your kimchi is ready for its first taste. If you’re missing that acidic bite, leave for an extra day or two.

  9. Once it’s reached your preferred flavour, pop it in the fridge with the lid sealed tight to trap in the gas, creating the fizziness of traditional kimchi. Leave it for 2 weeks to allow the flavours to develop - and enjoy!

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