Easy Kimchi

Kimchi is a popular Korean side made from fermented vegetables and spices.  It's flavorful, spicy and crunchy.  It can be eaten on its own or incorporated into other dishes.  (Kimchi fried rice coming soon!) 

I realize this may not be an authentic kimchi so let's just call it my version.  It's easy to make and vegetarian.  Recently, I picked up Sandor Katz's book The Art of Fermentation and highly recommend it if you're looking for another cookbook to add to your collection.  

Fermenting foods doesn't just help preserve them but adds health benefits, too.  They are full of healthy bacteria and probiotics.  Specifically, they're really great for you digestive or 'gut' health. If you want to know more about this, with specific citations to medical studies, check out chapter 2 of Katz's book.  

Some more fermented foods you probably eat on a regular basis: kefir, cheese, sauerkraut, pickles, beer, wine., miso, soy sauce, vinegar, coffee, yogurt, kombucha...

Easy Kimchi

1 head cabbage, chopped (nappa, savoy or green)

1/4 cup course kosher salt 

2 tablespoons grated ginger

3 tablespoons grated garlic

3 tablespoons ground cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon tamari soy sauce

2 carrots, cut into matchsticks

8 scallions, cut into 1 inch pieces

Toss chopped cabbage with salt.  Punch and squeeze it until it releases water.  Set it aside for 1 hour.  

(I reccomend wearing gloves for these next steps.)  Use a mortar and pestle to grind ginger, garlic, cayenne powder and soy sauce into a paste.  Toss with cabbage, cabbage liquid, carrots and scallions.  Make sure everything is covered with the paste.  Use your hands to massage paste into the veggies.  

Now, let's pack it into it's fermentation vessel.  This could be a crock, a deep bowl or a jar with a wide opening.  I used a clean, wide mouthed jar because that's what I had.  You just have to be able to fit your hand in, to the bottom with a fistful of kimchi vegetables.  

Take a handful of the vegetables.  Squeeze out what liquids you can, place it in the bottom of the jar, pushing it down as much as you can.  Continue until all the vegetables are in the vessel. Punch and push down as you go.  You need to remove all the air pockets that maybe lurking in there. Place a small plate over the vegetables and weigh it down.  This weight is going to keep the vegetables submerged under the liquid you're about the pour in.  

Pour the kimchi liquid into the jar, over the weighed down vegetables.  Cover the whole thing and place somewhere at room temperature.  Leave it to ferment for 3-5 days.  Taste it everyday to judge when you feel it's done.  It will be crunchy, spicy and acidic. 

After it's fermented it can go into the fridge.