What is Kim Chee?
Kimchi or Kim Chee is a traditional fermented Korean delicacy which is made from vegetables including cabbage and a wide range of spices and seasonings. It is the national dish of Korea and has been a staple of their food since ages.
What's it good for?
You can go to this page and read the health benefits:
When I first made kim chee, I found this recipe and used it as a jumping off point. (I had to laugh – this cook is even more loose about instructions than I am: “For amounts you can just go by feelings…”) My family loves this. It’s spicy and crunchy and salty – a great side dish to go with meat and fish when you don’t have time to make a salad.
•1 head cabbage
•3 small bunches bok choy
•3 green onions, sliced
•about 1 cup daikon, shredded (I use my veggie peeler)
•about 1 cup carrots, thinly sliced or shredded
•1.5 tablespoons Hawaiian salt or rock salt
•8-10 cloves garlic
•1″ piece fresh ginger
•1-2 tablespoons red pepper flakes (2 tablespoons makes a fairly spicy kim chee; use more or less to taste)
Chop cabbage, bok choy, and green onions coarsely and put in large bowl. Mix in daikon, carrot, and salt. Work the ingredients, pressing and smashing with the end of a rolling pin or back of a wooden spoon. This step will help the cabbage release its juices. The bulk of the greens will reduce by about half as you work it. Set greens aside; mince the garlic and ginger and stir into the cabbage along with the pepper flakes. Transfer mixture to a half gallon jar, pushing the greens down until they’re covered by juices. It will not look like you have much juice, but when you smash the ingredients down into the jar, you’ll be surprised. If the solid ingredients are not entirely covered by juices, top it off with a bit of filtered water. Cover jar with a loose cloth. Let sit at room temperature for a day, then cover and refrigerate.
This is what I did last night:
1 head napa cabbage
1 head bok choy
3 onions sliced
1 carrot shredded
1.5 Tablespoons course kosher salt
2 cloves of elephant garlic
1/2 cup ginger bug
1 teaspoon red pepper powder
3 dried guajillo chilies - I dump most of the seeds out and don't use them in the kim chee.
Chop everything in large pieces. Put in in a large glass or stainless steel bowl. Stir it up every half hour or so mashing everything with the spoon, the idea is to make it wilt and create juice. I let it sit all night in the bowl covered with plastic wrap, stirring occasionally when I walk by it. The next morning I put it in a large glass jar and pressed down to cover all the veggies in juice. Some people leave it alone at this point. I don't, I stir it every day. You can put a lid and an airloc on it at this point but I usually cover it loosely with plastic wrap leaving a space for it to breath. Leave it out for about 5 days until you see it bubble and all the veggies have turned a bit translucent. Pack into smaller jars and refrigerate. It's ready to eat at that point but it will stay in the fridge for up to a year (or so I am told anyway, ours would never last that long).
Other ingredients I have added the past:
raw ginger in place of the ginger bug
a Tablespoon of rice wine vinegar
6 cloves regular garlic in place of the elephant garlic
Day 3 of the Kim Chee.
When I opened it today I could hear it working. Notice the vegetables are becoming more clear. There is more liquid and it smells a bit raw. You can see that the red pepper powder has dissolved into the liquid. Keep stirring daily.
Traditionally the Koreans would put this in a dark covered jar and bury it for a month then dig it up and eat it.... yum!
Day 7 of the Kim Chee
You can see how transparent the vegetables have become. I put it in quart jars and put them in the fridge today.
Note: I started another batch of Kim Chee and it did not come to this state of fermentation as quickly as this batch did. The only thing I can think of that would cause this was the ginger bug I used. On the next batch I used fresh ginger instead. I remember reading to give your Kim Chee a kick start you can use a ferment in process such as the ginger bug or even a bit of whey left over from making yogurt.
So, while I am in the fermenting mood I went ahead and started a jar of Sauerkraut. It's an even simpler recipe.
1 med. head cabbage cut/shredded fine
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
Cut cabbage, sprinkle salt and begin kneading the mixture with your hands until it becomes moist.
I was pleasantly surprised that after I kneaded and pushed I had managed to get the whole head of cabbage into one quart jar.
I did put an airloc on it because sauerkraut tends to make the house smell a bit weird (who tooted?). We will check on its progress as we go but it will have to sit for about 30 days before it finishes it's process.
Photos by Kirsten Hughes Photography