Fermented foods have tons of health benefits but the main one is that they help restore healthy bacteria in our gut. Good bacteria or also known as probiotics helps with digestion and absorption of nutrients.
A bit of history...
Humans started fermenting in the Prehistoric times. Back then, they had no idea what was happening as the fermentation process happened naturally. It's only in 1856, when French chemist Louis Pasteur began his research in the mechanics of fermentation and later proved that it was initiated by living organisms.
In simple words...
Fermented foods go through a process called Lacto Fermentation that encourages healthy bacteria Lactobacillus to flourish and converts the sugar and starch in the food into Lactic Acid.
Lactic Acid acts as a natural preservative and creates beneficial enzymes, B vitamins, Omega 3 fatty acids and other strains of probiotics.
What is Kimchi
Kimchi is a traditional dish every Korean eat at almost every meal. It's a delicious mix of fermented cabbage and vegetable in a salty, hot and spicy brine. It's super stinky with its own distinctive smell and is very pungent. It can even tastes fizzy and bubbly but the flavors are just incredible. Just think of sauerkraut but much better! The first time I tried it couple of years ago, I couldn't stop eating it. It's fantastic on its own with just a bowl of plain rice but if you are adventurous, cooking with kimchi will intensify its flavour into something incredibly tasty!
On top on that, eating kimchi has numerous health benefits:
* Rich in fibre and Vitamins A, C, B1, B2, calcium and iron
* Immunity boost
* Lower cholesterol
* Helps digestion
how to make kimchi
There are different variations of kimchi and also tons of different ways to make it. So It took me some trials and errors before finding the perfect way to make it. The traditional recipe uses a starchy base made out of rice flour and other recipes will have a shrimp paste or sugar. Even the vegetable preparation can differ from from recipe to another, so this is just my way of making it. What you need now is some patience and good knife skills!
1 Napa cabbage
2 or 3 carrots
1 bunch of spring onions
5 Table spoons of Gochugaru (i usually add some more after I taste and depending on how big the cabbage was)
2 to 3 Table spoons of Gochuchang
1 onion, minced
3 or 4 garlic cloves, minced
Ginger, a thumb size, minced
2 Table spoons of fish sauce (optional)
Napa cabbage is the star in kimchi making and will need lots of care and attention to kick start the fermentation process.
Step 1: I cut my napa cabbage into bite size but you can cut it however you like (some only cut cabbage in half) and wash the cabbage thoroughly in salt water. I wash mine in the sink with water then I add couple of table spoons of sea salt and let the cabbage soak for about 10-20 mins. This salty brine wash helps kill off harmful bacteria.
After 20 mins, you should now have freshly cut and washed cabbage leaves.
Step 2: I'm using the dry salt method to draw out the liquid and moisture from the cabbage. In a bowl, alternate a layer of cabbage and coarse sea salt. Let the cabbage sit in the salt for at least 2 hours and keep moving the cabbage around every 30 minutes.
After 2 hours, your cabbage should have reduced in size and each leave should feel limpy.
Discard the salt water and wash the cabbage in water 3 times.
Step 3: While your cabbage is resting in the salt, you should get on with the other veggies. I like adding Japanese radish (daikon) as it gives a delicious crunch. You can add any vegetables you like. In this recipe, I used spring onions and carrots too.
Step 4: Now let's make the paste. You can use a food processor. I personally use a grater to mince the onion, garlic and ginger in a bowl. Then add the remaining ingredients: the gochujang paste, gochugaru powder and fish sauce and mix it all until your get a deep dark red coloured paste.
Step 5: Et voila! All you have got to do now is wear gloves and get mixing! Half way through I did add more chilli powder for extra colour. Transfer your kimchi into a tight glass jar, pressing down each time and make sure the vegetables are submerged in the liquid/paste. Don't fill up to the top as the fermented kimchi will create bubbles. Let it ferment at room temperature between 24h to 48h depending on how you like it. The longer you will leave it to ferment, the more sour and fizzy it will get. Once ready, leave in the fridge for up to 6 months. (if it lasts that long)
You can create some delicious recipes in less than 5 minutes especially if you run out of time. That's why I always have a jar of kimchi in the fridge.
Here are some of my favourite ways to enjoy kimchi:
Kimchi Pancake (Kimchijeon)
The base is very simple for 1 person:
About a cup of kimchi (chopped)
Half an onion diced
3 TB of plain flour
Mix it all and fry. You can add any other veggies you like in the mixture.
All you need is leftover rice seasoned with a bit sesame oil and sesame seeds and sushi nori.
Kimchi Rice Stir Fry
In a pan, heat up about a cup of kimchi then add any vegetables you like. Add your rice with some gochujang paste and mix it all together on a medium heat and loosen up with a bit of water.