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How to Make Korean 'Kimchi'

by LH Lee

Kimchi was typically stored in clay jars underground. Today, they can be stored in refrigerated glass jars.

Kimchi image by Angelika Bentin from Fotolia.com

“Kimchi” is a staple Korean side dish known for its pungent, spicy and tangy flavor. There are many varieties of kimichi made from different vegetables, like cucumbers and radishes, but typically cabbage is the most popular form. Kimchi has gained popularity outside of Korea due to its enormous health benefits from the raw ingredients. The garlic, onion and spicy peppers have an abundant amount of Vitamin A, B and C and the cabbage is an excellent source of fiber. However, it is best known for its “good bacteria” known as lactobacilli, found in fermented foods, which helps with digestion and prevents yeast infections.

Separate and wash the cabbage leaves. Sprinkle 2 tablespoon of sea salt evenly on each cabbage leaf and place them in a large bowel. Pour the cold water and refrigerate over night.

Pour out the water and rinse each cabbage leaf. Set the cabbage aside in a large bowel.

Mince the garlic and ginger finely. Thinly slice the scallions. Add the dried red pepper, sugar, garlic, ginger, scallion and remaining 1 tablespoon of sea salt into a large bowl.

Pour the mixture over the cabbage and rub the seasoning evenly into each cabbage leaves by hand.

Transfer the seasoned cabbage into a large glass jar. Press firmly and stack each cabbage leaf evenly. The less space there is in between each leaf, the more evenly the kimchi will ferment. Make sure to leave at least two inches of room at the top.

Add the remaining liquid from the seasoned mixture into the jar. Close the jar tightly with the lid.

Store the glass jar in a cool, dry, dark area at a room temperature no higher than 68 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 days.

Tip

  • Add radishes or carrots for a crunchy component in the kimchi. Peel and cut them into 1 inch cubes. Add Asian pear for a slightly sweet component. The longer the kimchi stays in the refrigerator, the longer it will ferment. The longer the fermentation process, the more sour and tangy the kimchi will taste. Only take out a small portion with each meal in order to maintain the fermentation process. Kimchi can lasts for months in the refrigerator. Replace sugary condiments, like ketchup, on a hotdog with spicy kimchi.

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About the Author

LH Lee spent two years backpacking from 2007 to 2009. Since her return in 2009, she has contributed various travel articles to Off Track Planet and Matador. Lee holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in screenwriting from the School of Visual Arts and is a recipient of The Media Workshop from UCLA.