For as long as I can remember, my mom has always had two different refrigerators. One for “regular” food and the other refrigerator was specifically for kimchi and other pungent Korean ingredients and food. Because kimchi is a fermented food, mixed in with a healthy dose of garlic, we don’t want the smell to seep into other foods and also the benefits of a kimchi refrigerator is that it has a consistent temperature that is similar to the temperature of a claypot that is under ground (which is the traditional way in which kimchi is fermented).
Kimchi is not only super tasty but there are so many health benefits! Read on to find out what they are and why they’ve been a staple in my diet ever since I was a kid.
What exactly is kimchi?
There are literally hundreds of different kinds of kimchi but the most popular is made with a Napa cabbage. Kimchi is a salted, seasoned, and fermented cabbage side dish that is always present in all traditional Korean meals.
What are some of the health benefits of kimchi?
Napa cabbage, that is the main ingredient in kimchi, is high in Vitamin C. About 100 g of fresh napa provides 45% of the daily intake needed! Vitamin C is awesome for your health because it helps protect your body against immune system deficiencies, it can prevent cardiovascular disease and is a source of preventing eye disease as well.
P.S. Instead of having orange juice when you catch a cold – maybe you just need a healthy dose of kimchi 😛
Also because of the fermentation process, kimchi is an excellent source of probiotics. I do take additional probiotic supplements for that extra Lactobacillus good bacteria support, but I love knowing that the food I already eat contains a healthy amount. Other foods that are rich in probiotics are sauerkraut, natto, kefir, kombucha, and yogurt to name a few!
Now to actually make kimchi – I thought this would be such a time consuming process. I always saw my mom making it growing up, so I figured it was an all day activity – but surprisingly it is SUPER simple. I’m so happy that I took the time to sit down with her and make this batch because I know it’s so easy now and I can make it if I ever don’t have any that I take from her kitchen 🙂
Authentic Homemade Korean Kimchi Recipe
- 1 Medium Napa Cabbage
- 4 oz daikon radish or half of a large radish - julienne cut
- 2 radishes used for garnish - julienne cut optional use
- 3 oz white onion or ¼ of a large onion - julienne x2 (half is for blending, half is for mixing)
- 1 tsp ginger - rough chop
- 6 cloves of garlic - rough chop
- 2 Red Jalapeno peppers optional
- 2 tsp red dried chilli powder
- ½ tsp sugar or Splenda
- 1 tbsp cooked sweet rice or sweet rice powder
- 1 tbsp water for blending
- ½ cup chives
- 2 tbsp salt
- To make a 24 oz jar of kimchi -
- Soak the cabbage for around two hours hours in 2 tbsp of salt (with one cup of water). Note that the longer you soak the cabbage the more salty your kimchi will turn out, so it's important to not soak it for too long!
- Rinse off the salt water with fresh cold water
- Blend together the following: 1/2 radish, onion, ginger, garlic, peppers, red chili powder, sugar, sweet rice (Make sure that the sweet rice is cooked)
- Combine this mixture with the the cabbage
- Add in the chopped chives as a garnish
- To ferment, put the kimchi in an airtight container and store at room temperature for 24 hours
- After this time has passed, the kimchi can be stored in the refrigerator
Remember that the fermentation process is key to the whole thing, so that’s why you need to leave the kimchi at room temperature for at least 24 hours. During this time that’s when the fibers break down and form our friends, Lactobacillus – which are simply put, good bacteria for your gut!
I would love to know if you make this or are considering it! It makes me so happy to see others being more accustomed to the health benefits of Korean food