Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Making of Kimchi, a Photo Essay

Well, I made the kimchi. I used the recipe I found in the great traditional foods cookbook, Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon. and had one modification in that I used 2 teaspoons of red chili paste instead of the red pepper flakes--next time I'll use the flakes. Oh, I couldn't find Napa cabbage either, so I used bok choy instead. There are all sorts of vegetables and even fruits that can be made into kimchi, so I felt OK about that substitution.

What is kimchi? A mainstay of Korean cookery, it is a fermented, intensely flavored cabbage condiment. It is made in a similar way as sauer kraut, but is full of ginger and garlic and has a tangy, spicy taste. Because it's fermented, it is full of probiotics and helps with digestion. Why am I making it? Because I don't want to spend around $8 a jar for the very good kind of kimchi that I've gotten at Whole Foods...

Look what my husband got me for my birthday.

It's a crock! And, I mean that in only the best way possible. In this very countrified 1980's crock, I can make as much kimchi as I want.

See the pretty decal on the side?

It was this, for 5 bucks at Goodwill, or a Harsch fermenting crock for over 100 dollars...Say what?!

Beautiful, isn't it? Oh well, I can easily forgive my crock the cutesy little flowers at the top. I will defile it with stinky cabbage and that's just going to have to be OK.

Let's look at what I used to make kimchi.

Here's the whole group of ingredients: Bok choy, green cabbage, carrots, daikon radish, scallions, ginger, garlic, kosher sea salt, red chili paste.

Look how great all of these veggies look. Doesn't this all look so healthy?

To make kimchi, you have to salt the cabbage and other vegetables, which inhibits the growth of bad bacteria that would rot the vegetables. What will happen instead is lactic acid fermentation which preserves the veggies and has all sorts of healthful benefits to me, my gut and the billions of micro flora that are always having a party in my intestinal tract. (yours too, by the way...) Par-tay!!

You shred the veggies, salt them and then add the flavorings--garlic, ginger and the chili paste. Mush it, mash it and the salt will begin to draw out the juices from the vegetables.

I got tired of mashing at this point and recruited my husband--even though he thinks kimchi is completely heinous. Love is expressed in many ways, isn't it?

Here, we're pretty much done. See all of the juices that have been drawn out? The vegetables will remain submerged under all of that and will ferment in a few days time.

Here's the kimchi in the crock and...well, it looks, uh, kind of...well, perhaps not so palatable. I will admit that.


It's a good thing that kimchi is not about looking, it's about tasting. And, I tasted it on Monday and again on Tuesday and it is already delicious. Crispy, yet softened up some, juicy, gingery, garlicky, and spicy. Yum.

I've made kefir, yogurt, kombucha tea and now kimchi. My journey into whole, fermented or cultured traditional foods is expanding. I think I'm going to try to make cheese next. Ricotta is supposed to be easy. I'll let you know.

NOTE: I forgot to add this picture that shows my creative daughter's idea for what to do with discarded carrot tops. That girl has an eye.


DoulaMomma said...

wow! your veggies do look lovely - I, myself, am on the way to exchange the enormous amount of cilantro my husband bought instead of flat leaf parsley, as I have to cook spaghetti & meatballs for my family & four others (meal co-op - so psyched - good food shows up 4 days per week - I cook the 5th day)!

Laura said...

My husband has made that mistake too! Maybe they shouldn't put them so close together.

Meal co-op?! That sounds brilliant. Can you please tell me more?

Anonymous said...

Here's a useful, detailed site to get you started on cheese making:
One nice thing is the author uses just buttermilk or yogurt for the cheese culture, so for starting you don't need to order special cheese cultures.
Ricotta is definitely easy; it isn't cultured, just heated with an acid. Yogurt and kefir serve you well as introduction to technique, too.

Laura said...

Thanks for the tip Anonymous--I'll go check out that site.

savonara said...

I just recieved a good old 80's crock that looks like a sister to yours! I was planning to use it for sauerkraut but I feel inspired by your kimchi adventure, even though I too have a husband that thinks it is pretty gross...

Laura said...

Hi savonara.

My kimchi rocks! It is delicious and I'm amazed at how easy it was to make. What's with the husbands thinking it gross?

Do you have Nourishing Traditions? It was a good recipe. I skipped the whey and that was fine.

There's a lot of life left in those 80's crocks. Have fun with yours!

Thanks for visiting.

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