Kimchi, that spicy, smelly, fermented vegetable dish the Koreans adore and eat with every meal, is oh-so-healthy and delicious — if you’ve acquired a taste for it.
According to the Journal of Medicinal Food (2014), the health promoting properties of kimchi are: “anticancer, antiobesity, anticonstipation, colorectal health promotion, probiotic properties, cholesterol reduction, fibrolytic effect, antioxidative and antiaging properties, brain health promotion, immune promotion, and skin health promotion.”
Kimchi is a great source of probiotics (live, healthful bacteria). And the lively bacteria in kimchi continue to do good work in your digestive system. On the other hand, the probiotics in many supplements may not be alive. In addition, kimchi, especially if you make it yourself, is a lot less expensive than probiotic supplements.
Never tasted kimchi? No problem! Here’s a recipe for kimchi newbies that mixes pungent store-bought kimchi with slightly sweet sautéed cabbage.
Note: This recipe does not include measurements. Just mix it up however you like! If you’re a kimchi novice, start with less kimchi. If you love kimchi, use more.
Fresh ginger, diced
Cabbage (green), cut into long ribbons about 1/3 inch wide
Store-bought kimchi, cut into small pieces
Red onions, diced
Fresh cilantro, chopped
Heat a large heavy sauté pan over medium high heat, and when somewhat hot, add avocado oil to cover the bottom of the pan. When the oil is hot (starts to shimmer), add the diced ginger and sauté for about 10 seconds. Then add the sliced cabbage and stir constantly for 1 – 2 minutes, or until the cabbage is lightly wilted. Remove from heat.
Assemble the dish:
- Put the sautéed cabbage on a plate.
- Top with kimchi.
- Pour a little of the liquid from the jar of kimchi over the kimchi. (Note: When you pour off this liquid, be sure there’s still enough liquid in the jar to keep the kimchi covered/submerged. This keeps the good bacteria in a relatively anaerobic environment so they can do their work, and in doing so they keep the kimchi from spoiling.)
- Scatter diced red onions and fresh cilantro on top.
- Serve as a first course or side dish.
KIMCHI – USEFUL INFO
Cook with kimchi?
The Koreans do, but traditionally they use kimchi that they no longer consider good enough to eat. Note: Heating (or freezing) any probiotic-rich food kills most of the probiotics.
How long can I store kimchi?
This Kimchi Q & A from Sintogourmet.com answers many questions, including how long you can store kimchi.
And what about mold that you may sometimes find on top of the kimchi in a jar that’s been stored for a while? Some say you can skim off the mold and eat the kimchi below. I could not find an authoritative source about mold and kimchi, but I can’t see why this information about surface mold on sauerkraut, from Wild Fermentation (Sandor Katz’s website), would not be applicable.
Safety note: If the mold is not just on the surface, throw your kimchi away! And if the kimchi smells bad (not the usual smell), don’t taste it, throw it away. And make a fresh batch!
How to open a jar of kimchi
The first kimchi I bought at the store, went into the garbage disposal. I thought it was not safe to eat because it bubbled over when I opened it. Later I learned that the good-for-you bacteria (probiotics) in kimchi produce gas, and sometimes when you open the jar, especially for the first time or after a long time, the gas in the kimchi causes the liquid to bubble over or release a fine spray.
To keep the kimchi liquid from spilling over onto the kitchen counter or spraying into your face:
- Put a plate under the jar of kimchi so that if it bubbles over, the liquid goes onto the plate, not the counter.
- Place a paper towel over the lid when lifting the lid for the first time so that the spray, if any, will hit the paper towel and not your face.
Make kimchi at home! It’s easy!
- Here are many different kimchi recipes from Maangchi, a Korean expert with a large online following. The easiest of her recipes is the one for Cubed Radish Kimchi, which can be made in just one hour. I plan to try it soon!
- Nappa cabbage kimchi, illustrated, step-by-step, from Mother In Law’s Kimchi. It doesn’t look difficult either! I plan to try this recipe too!
- Do-it-yourself kimchi kit – This kit from Mother In Law’s Kimchi is a little pricy (and currently out of stock), but Entrepreneur.com listed it as one of the top 10 Foodie Gifts. Sounds like a great way to get started if you’ve never made kimchi before!
- Highly praised kimchi cookbook: 60 Traditional and Modern Ways to Make and Eat Kimchi from the Mother In Law’s Kimchi.
- And…if you are really interested in fermentation — not just making kimchi — be sure to check out Sandor Katz’s authoritative book, The Art of Fermentation, and his website, Wild Fermentation.
OTHER INGREDIENTS IN RECIPE, KIMCHI WITH SAUTÉED CABBAGE – USEFUL INFO
Avocado oil – Avocado oil is high in healthy monounsaturated fat, the same healthy fat that’s in olive oil. But unlike olive oil, avocado oil has a smoke point of 500 degrees F so you can use it for high heat cooking, such as sautéing — without destroying the oil and creating nasty by-products like trans fats and peroxides.
Ginger – Ginger has many health benefits, including aiding digestion and reducing bloating and gas. So when eating a “gassy vegetable” like cabbage, you may want to include ginger in the meal! To learn about the health benefits of ginger, check out Herb of the Month: Ginger on Dr. Oz’s blog.
Red onions – To get the most anti-cancer fighting properties from onions, choose small yellow or red ones and eat them raw or just slightly cooked. And if they are too pungent to eat raw, here’s a trick to reduce their bite: Put the onions in a container and add water to cover the onions. Put the lid on the container and then shake it for about 20 seconds. Drain out the water. The remaining onions will be more mild. Unfortunately, this process will rinse off some of the nutritional value (from the sulfur).
SPECIAL INVITATION TO RESTON-AREA READERS OF THIS BLOG
I can’t wait to make two batches of kimchi — Maangchi’s Cubed Radish Kimchi and Mother In Law’s Nappa Cabbage Kimchi — and you are invited to join me! So if you are in the Reston area and want to come over to make of a batch kimchi, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Enjoy and be healthy!