Kimchi is one of the hottest food trends today and it’s easy to see why. With a complex flavour, a variety of uses and an all-star nutritional scorecard, kimchi seems to have it all. The last time I had kimchi I was living in Japan and I loved it - but for one reason or another I haven't had it since I came back.... that would be around 20 years now! So I felt that I should get involved with this seriously healthy food trend.
A good kimchi recipe balances texture, flavour and heat. Unlike homemade sauerkraut, where uniformity is the goal, a good kimchi is a dish of variety: chunks of radish and garlic, chilli-flecked cabbage leaves and brilliant heat. Indeed, one of the first mistakes newcomers to kimchi make is to simply shred all the ingredients together and pound them away as they would any fermented vegetable dish, but the flavour and textural variety of kimchi rests on different cuts: chunks (not shreds) of cabbage, whole pickled strips of carrot and radish and hunks of good garlic. I typically serve kimchi in condiment-sized (1/4 cup) portions.
Benefits of Kimchi
Like all fermented foods, kimchi is extraordinarily rich in beneficial bacteria – those bacteria that line the gut and help to build our immune system, manufacture and assimilate vitamins. Kimchi is also a rich source of vitamin C and other antioxidants due not only to the ingredients in most kimchi recipes, but also due to the fermentation process itself which typically increases the antioxidants found in foods.
Kimchi, and other fermented foods, may also play a role in the mitigation of risks for metabolic syndrome. Several Korean studies found that those people who consumed the most kimchi (thereby adhering to their traditional diets) were the least likely to suffer from metabolic syndrome – a condition that is on the rise world-wide, but particularly in industrialized nations.
The Right Equipment for Your KimchiWhen you begin fermenting foods, like kimchi, mason jars offer a good option; however, they are not ideal. Fermentation is an anaerobic process. That means the vegetables you ferment should not be exposed to air during fermentation as this can cause contamination by stray microbes and moulds.
If you plan to ferment foods regularly, invest in a fermentation device equipped with a weight and an airlock (like this one) or a fermentation crock such as the Harsch, Polish or German sauerkraut crocks which you can purchase online (see sources).
These devices are intended for fermentation and their structure as well as the addition of weights (which keep vegetables submerged in the anaerobic environment of brine) and airlocks (which allow carbon dioxide to escape without allowing new air in) help to ensure that fermentation is more reliable in your kitchen and that your fermented foods are less likely to be contaminated by other microorganisms.
Kimchi’s flavour is complex and varies widely depending on the recipe. The main flavor notes you’ll find in kimchi include sour, spicy, and umami. The flavour will also vary depending on the vegetables, length of fermentation and the amount of salt or sugar used.
Probiotic rich Kimchi.
Author: Emma Olliff Nutrition
Makes: 300-400g / 3-4 cups
Your guide to living whole and well. Emma Olliff is a Registered Nutritional Therapist, wellness expert, food lover, and advocate for healthy living!