Sunday, 19 May 2013

Falling in love with "Kimchi"

I started making my own kimchi about one year ago because of using better quality ingredients and cheaper. It was normally used as a side pickle. Since my Irish husband discovered how to enjoy kimchi, he has developed some great recipes using it and now is a big fan. He made a Kimchi pasta! It was just sensational and so easy to make. What you need is kimchi and bacon or a tin of tuna is good and dried pasta. 

People in Australia are now just discovering kimchi. Recently, I read article about Kimchi in the epicure of 'the Age' newspaper. Jill Dupleix described it is tangy, spicy Korean pickled staple adds crunch and punch to a meal. Some of the well known Aussie chefs make their own kimchi.

When I have my lunch in my office, food is one of my best topic to share with my colleagues. I noticed that most of my colleague are not familiar of Korean cuisine. There are not many people are familiar with kimchi, but when you get to know kimchi like my husband did, you will fall in love with. 

So what is it? It is fermented vegetable pickle that's crunchy, spicy and completely addictive. Usually made with cabbage (baechu - wombok in Korean), the vegetables are first brined, then rubbed with chili paste, garlic, ginger and fish sauce and aged in a jar or container for days, weeks or months until intensely flavoured, earthy and pungent. As longer in fermentation, it gets softer, sweeter and sour. There are many variety of Kimchi. Daikon cucumber, spring onion can be turn to kimchi. It doesn't have to be spicy. White kimchi is great option with spicy food and winter soup. What I think 'Kimchi' is like good aged cheese that you want to eat more and more! It is the beauty of fermented food.

Kimchi is very versatile and lift up a otherwise boring meal. My mother used to cook fried rice, tofu stew, soup, dumpling, stir fry and pancake using kimchi. Korean serve kimchi as compliment with most meals. It lifts up the taste with a salty, sour, spicy and crunchiness.

Kimchi has fantastic nutrition and health value. According to the Wikipedia, it is made of various vegetables and contains a high concentration of dietary fibre, while being low in calories. one serving also provides over 50% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin C and carotene. Most types of kimchi contain onions, garlic and chili peppers, all of which are salutary. Kimchi is rich in vitamin A, thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), calcium and iron, and contains a number of lactic acid bacteria  Health magazine named kimchi in its list of top five " World's Healthiest Foods" for being rich in vitamins, aiding digestion, and even possibly reducing cancer growth.

Here is the kimchi recipe. Pickle it today and enjoy it later.

1 head Wombok chinese cabbage
1 cup sea salt

for marinade,
1/2 cup coarse sea salt
5 tbsp water

for the seasoning
2 oyster (optional)
1/2 Daikon, chinese radish about 500g, peeled and thinly sliced
25g Korean chives
25g minari, watercress or rocket
5 garlic cloves, crushed,
15g fresh ginger, crushed
1/2 onion, sliced fined
1/2 Asian pear, or 1 kiwi fruit
1 chestnut, sliced (optional)
3 spring onions(scallions), sliced
50g cup Korean chilli powder
1/2 cup thai fish sauce
1 tsp sugar 
1 red chilli, sliced

1. Cut the cabbage small pieces and soak it in 2 tsp of salt water for around 2 hours.
2. Drain the cabbage and sprinkle with the sea salt for the marinade, making sure to coat the leaves. Leave to stand for 4 hours or until brined.

3. Cut the radish slices into fine strips. Cut the chives and rocket into 3cm length. Crush the garlic, ginger, onion and Asian pear( kiwi fruit). Combining the seasoning ingredients with 1/2 cup water.

4. Rised the softened cabbage leaves in cold running water. Place in a large bowl and coat with the seasoning mixture.

5. Place the cabbages leaves in an airtight container. Leave to stand at room temperature for 5 hours, then leave in the refrigerator for 24 hours.


Kimchi can be stored for up to 5 months in the refrigerator. The flavour may, by then, be then, pungent for the vegetable pickle to be eaten raw, but at this stage it can be used to be flavour cooked dishes. If the kimchi is to be stored for a long period, used a covered container and wash it well with sterilising fluid.