Spicy Korean Kimchi
Makes: 1 quart
Total Time: 20 minutes active, 3 hours total prep, 3-5 days fermentation
- 1 medium head Napa cabbage
- 1/4 cup unrefined sea salt
- 2 quarts spring, distilled, or filtered water
- 1 tablespoon garlic, (5 to 6 cloves), grated
- 1 teaspoon ginger, grated
- 1 teaspoon honey, raw unfiltered
- 2 tablespoons shrimp paste, (or 3 tbsp for bolder flavor)
- 3 tablespoons Korean red pepper flakes, (gochugara)
- 4 scallions, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- Cut off the bottom stem of the cabbage, about 2 inches up. Beginning at the stem end, slice into the cabbage enough to get your hands in. Dig your hands into the core and pull the rest of the cabbage apart. This will yield you nicely rustic, torn pieces. Cut the cabbage into 2 inch strips.
- Place the cabbage and salt in a large bowl, and use your hands to massage the salt into the cabbage, until it softens. Add water to cover the cabbage.
- Place a plate or lid on top and weight it down with something heavy, such as a can for 2 hours.
- Rinse the cabbage 3 times under cold, running water and let drain in a colander for 20 minutes.
- While the cabbage is draining, combine the garlic, ginger, honey, and shrimp paste in a small bowl and mix until it forms a smooth paste. Add the gochugaru and mix.
- Squeeze any remaining water from the cabbage and add it back to its salting bowl, along with the paste and scallions.
- Mix thoroughly with your hands (they will get stained, but it’s a badge of culinary honor! You could also wear gloves.)
- Pack the kimchi into a jar, pressing down the cabbage so that the liquid covers the top—add a tiny bit of water if needed. Leave an inch of space above the liquid level. Cover with lid and let stand on the counter for 1-5 days. There will be some bubbling and possibly some spill-out of brine so place the jar on a plate or towel to catch any overflow.
- After 1 day, begin to check the kimchi every day by opening, pressing down with your finger to keep the cabbage submerged, and tasting a bit. When it is fermented to your liking, transfer to the refrigerator. It will continue to improve after another week or two in the fridge, but you may enjoy immediately.
Since kimchi is fermented, it contains a wealth of healthy bacteria and probiotics. These lactobacilli are an effective digestive aid and also assist in fighting off bad bacteria in the gut. Integrating healthy bacteria into your gut is one of the most important ways to boost your immune system which can do everything from ward off illnesses, aid weight loss, and prevent allergies.
Kimchi has a significant dose of vitamin A, important for eyesight and skin health. You will also find isocyanate and sulfide, which are supportive aids in ridding the liver of heavy metals. They are also known to assist in the prevention of stomach cancer. In addition to being rich in antioxidants, this fermented vegetable also prevents cell oxidation— making you look younger from the inside out!