Fermented Foods: KimChi

by Wendy

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Nurture yourself, feed your internal fire.

Deep winter is an ideal time to stoke the internal furnace of your digestion.  Keeping the digestive fires going insures strong robust digestion which directly translates to feeling strong, robust, and stoked.  Fermented foods are a fabulous way to maintain the digestive process.  It helps us to utilize deeply the available nutrients within our food.  KimChi is a traditional fermented food with roots of origin in Korea.

KimChi is not something that I grew up with.  It has been a fabulous new adventure as an adult.  I did grow up with sauerkraut, although my family did not make it, we did eat it.  As a child, I loved the sharp bite, the tang of sauerkraut teasing my tongue, and ate it by the bowlful whenever we had it in the fridge.

Fermented foods were a part of my childhood.  Yogurt, pickles, sauerkraut, pickled beets, etc. were always a source of sheer delight for me.  KimChi naturally resonated with my body when I was introduced to it a few years ago by my beautiful friend and family member, Donna.  I love Donna.  And I love Donna’s KimChi, and I love that she was gracious enough to share the recipe with me.  It is moderately spicy, choc full of garlic and glorious fermented vegetable goodness.  I eat it nearly every day.

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Fermented foods are deeply nourishing for our bodies.  They are a traditional link to our ancestor’s diets.  Ferments were relied upon before refrigeration was common in order to preserve the harvest, and daily dairy abundance.  They are overflowing with probiotics, digestive enzymes, and have prepared the food to be fully utilized by our bodies.  Our bodies have evolved over time to receive deep nutrition from the fermentation process, and it is an essential part of our diet that may be missing for some in these modern times.

Adding ferments back into a regular part of your diet is simply nourishing for your digestive system and helps bring health and wellbeing back into your body.  Regularly incorporating fermented foods into your daily rituals is as easy as eating high quality  yogurt, keifer, komboucha, artisan cheese and bread, sauerkraut, kimchi, and other lacto-fermented veggies.  They are easy to make at home, or readily available at your local farmer’s markets.  More and more grocery chains and co-ops are offering these options, but understand that everything you buy that is prepackaged has been pasturized, at least in Minnesota, and most other states, eliminating many beneficial strains of good bacteria, enzymes and probiotics.  These offerings are better than nothing, but creating your own, or finding a loving source that offers these life giving foods to nurture both body and soul will elevate your experience.

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Everyday KimChi

Makes about one gallon

10 lbs. napa cabbage

Wash and cut cabbage into bite size pieces, approx. 1 inch.  In a sink filled with cold water, rinse and clean cut cabbage.  Drain.  Transfer clean, drained cut cabbage from sink into a large mixing bowl, layering with 1 cup of salt as you go.  Allow cabbage and salt to stand for 1 1/2 hours, mixing and turning every 30 minutes.

Prepare porridge while cabbage and salt are resting.

1/2 cup sweet rice flour

3 cups water

In a medium sauce pan mix sweet rice flour with water.  Whisk well.  Over medium high heat, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for five minutes, until thickened and cooked.  Remove from heat, add 1/4 cup of evaporated cane juice, and cool.

In blender or food processor, process for 1 minute:

1 T.  fresh ginger, peeled

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup fish sauce

1 cup garlic, cloves chopped

Combine cooled porridge with sauce to make a paste.

Add Asian Hot Pepper Powder for desired hotness.*

1 cup= mild

2 cups= spicy

2 1/2 cups= very spicy

*you can find Asian Hot Pepper Powder at an Asian Market, or an online vendor.

Cut up and add to paste:

1 leek

7-10 green onions

2 carrots

Korean radish (Daikon Radish)

And any other veggies you would like to add to the ferment.  I like adding cauliflower, it adds more body to the finished kimchi and helps to stretch out my cabbage if I have a little less than ten pounds.

Rinse soaked and salted cabbage 3-5 times under cold water to remove excess salt.  The easiest way to do this I have found, is to drain the soaking liquid off the cabbage, and place in a large mixing bowl.  Fill bowl with cold water, using your hands swish the cabbage around, drain and repeat.

In a one gallon glass jar, or crock stir prepared cabbage and vegetable paste mixture together, mix well.  Pack down into vessel allowing liquid to rise up and immerse mixture.  Cover loosely with a solid lid (I use a plate to cover my crock, or use the lid from the gallon glass jar without screwing it down tight).

Allow to ferment in a cool space, out of direct sunlight for 24-48 hours or until bubbly and fabulous.  Store in fridge.

Eat joyfully everyday.