One of my recent cooking experiments was making Kim Chi. I had multiple motivations for undertaking this particular culinary adventure.
- Fermented foods are healthy and delicious additions to the human diet.
- Fermented foods can help restore the proper balance to a person’s gut flora. This is particularly important if antibiotics have been used recently.
- I was attempting to recreate a food I had many years ago. When I lived in San Jose, my favorite Chinese restaurant was Kirin. They used to serve a small dish of Kim Chi on every table in the same manner that Mexican restaurants serve chips and salsa. I loved this stuff and have not been able to find anything even close.
- I thought it would be fun to mess around in the kitchen and ferment something. This is play for me.
- 1 large Napa Cabbage
- 1 gallon water
- ½ cup coarse salt
- 1 small head of garlic peeled and finely minced
- ¼ cup fish sauce
- 1/3 cup chili paste or ½ cup Korean chili powder
- 1 bunch green onions cut into 1-inch pieces (use the dark green part too, except for the tough ends)
- 1 cup Daiken radish, peeled and grated
- 1 teaspoon sugar and honey
- Slice the cabbage lengthwise in half, then slice each half lengthwise into three sections. Cut away the tough stem chunks.
- Dissolve the salt in the water in a very large container. Submerge the cabbage under the water. Put a plate or lid on top to make sure they stay underwater. Let stand for 2 hours.
- Mix the other ingredients in a very large metal or glass bowl.
- Drain the cabbage, rinse it and squeeze dry.
- Mix the cabbage with the other ingredients.
Note: I found that this mixture was very delicious. You could stop here and serve it as a cabbage salad. I think that this is what that restaurant in San Jose was doing.
- Pack the Kim Chi in a clean glass jar large enough to hold it all. Cover it tightly and let stand for 1-2 days in a cool place.
- Check the Kim Chi after 1-2 days. If it’s bubbling a bit, it’s ready and should be refrigerated. If not, let it stand another day, when it should be ready.
Once it’s fermenting, serve or store in the refrigerator. If desired, add a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds over the Kim Chi for serving. Many advise to eat the Kim Chi within 3 weeks. After that, it can get too fermented for most people’s taste.
This recipe is definitely a keeper. I’ll be doing both the fresh and the fermented versions.