Kimchi is a Korean national treasure. Without kimchi the country could not survive. I guess those are drastic words to write, however, every Korean woman would agree with these words. It is said that any woman who can make kimchi is an excellent cook, (your's truly included) which in turn makes an excellent wife in Korea.
So what is kimchi anyway?
It is a fermented probiotic food usually made from nappa cabbage and other vegetables which promote healing of the gut and balance the internal system, helping you stay healthy. Not only that, it is a Korean side dish served at breakfast, lunch and dinner every day, and I mean every day.
So how did I get into kimchi?
Being half German, I've always been into sauerkraut. That, together with my love for spicy food is what got me to explore the wonderful world of kimchi and helped me adapt it and create my own paleo friendly version without losing the traditional way of making it too much. Usually I use nappa cabbage but for this recipe I tried something new. My recipe is based on traditional ways of making it, yet I've adapted it to work better on my paleo diet due to the sugar content in traditional kimchi.
In this particular version, I've also used all organically home grown vegetables, so it' a little different, yet still gives you that kick and tastes and SMELLS authentic. I write the word smells in large font because it is important to know that kimchi is extremely smelly and not for the feint hearted. My work colleagues would agree since I stunk the office out with it last Friday. You will either love it or hate it. There is no in between unfortunately. It is an acquired taste that I have loved from the moment I made it myself. So lets get to my recipe already.
First of all I advise you to get a large bucket or tub to work with because it's messy and requires a lot of space in a large container where the cabbage will ferment before it's bottled into maisonry jars.
Here is my recipe...
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-two heads of standard cabbage
-two heads of nappa cabbage
-large bunch of kale
-one large asian raddish
-1 large bunch of spring onions
-bunch of watercress
-any other root vegetable is great (I added home grown kohlrabi too)
-2 cups of water
-1/2 cup of maple syrup
-1 cup of garlic
-1tablespoon of ginger
-1/2 cup of salty shrimp and its juices
-1 cup of onion
-2 tablespoons of tapioca flour
-1/2 cup of fish sauce
-2 cups of Asian hot pepper flakes
-4 tablespoons of sea salt
STEP 1:- CABBAGE
*cut your cabbages in half and take the middle stems out which is the hard parts inside, and chop the cabbages like you would chop for sauerkraut
*chop your kale the same way.
*put your chopped cabbage and kale in a large bucket or tub and add about 4 tablespoons of sea salt and mix it all together and squish down. (the salt will start fermenting your cabbage and the cabbage will release its own juices.
*mix the cabbage like this about every 20 minutes and keep doing this for about two hours while you prepare everything else in between. This will eventually be mixed with the porridge you will make, as well as the other vegetables.
STEP 2:- PORRIDGE
*add two cups of water with the flour and bring to the boil but stir a lot so the flour doesn't get gluggy
*once boiling, add your maple syrup to the mix off the stove and stir in
*let it cool while you continue with the rest
*remember to keep mixing your cabbage and salt in the tub in between (just a reminder everyone)
STEP 3:- VEGETABLES AND SEASONING TIME
*get another container to add the following ingredients into
*chop your Asian radish into little matchstick
*do the same with the carrots
*chop you spring onions and watercress
*add all these ingredients into a bowl and put aside
STEP 4:- SPICES TIME
*in a blender blend 1 cup of garlic,1 tablespoon of ginger and 1 cup of onion and make it into a puree
*add 1/2 cup of fish sauce into the puree
*get half a cup of salty shrimp, drain the juice into the puree and chop the salty shrimp up before adding it to the puree too (ASK YOUR ASIAN GROCER FOR SALTY SHRIMP. THEY ARE MICROSCOPIC SHRIMP YOU GET IN A JAR
*mix everything together before adding 2 cups of asian pepper flakes (less if you're not that great with spicy food) AGAIN ASK YOUR ASIAN GROCER FOR THE PEPPER FLAKES. THEY ARE BRIGHT RED
*once all this is mixed together, add this into the porridge mix you made earlier and mix it all up
*then add the red porridge mix in with your chopped vegetables and mix it all to create the kimchi vegetable paste
*another reminder to mix your cabbage mix
STEP 5:- LETS MIX EVERYTHING TOGETHER
*it's as simple as that now. you add your porridge and vegetable mix into the cabbage and kale mix and with or without gloves, use your hands to really mix it all up before bottling it in your maisonry jars.
*put the jars in a dark place for the next four days and forget about them, however, don't forget to have the jars sitting on trays because juice will leak as the kimchi ferments and produces gases and bubbles.
*this is the fun part of the recipe. Listen to the kimchi bubble and create gas as it ferments. It sounds like a gas leak and if you can hear that after two days, you've done it right