Ladies and gentleman, Its Majesty, The Kimchi!
Of course, I had no idea what Kimchi was before I found Maangchi’s YouTube channel. Long before I went vegan, I made lots of her recipes and they all were flawless! Later on, when I omitted animal products, there were still lot’s of recipes to chose from Maangchi’s arsenal of Korean dishes.
Apart from presenting original Korean cuisine in an interesting, simple and everyday way, Maangchi’s personality and positive attitude is more than contagious! No matter how grumpy you are, you gotta start laughing when she starts imitating sounds of rice straining and vegetable cutting on her board, all in her cute Korean accent!
Also, she is full of great advice how to economically cook various foods, include more veggies in your dishes and how to make a beautiful presentation on your hot and delicious plate.
Yup, we love Maangchi!
So, one day, and it was just a matter of short time, I found out about Kimchi. I watched that petit woman tossing around big bowls of cabbage, frighted about the amount of hot chilli flakes she had thrown into it and laughed when she said, „People freaked out! Why, what, why do we need a porridge?“ No need to say, this sentence became our internal „go to sentence“ when someone freaks for no reason. But, we’ll get to the porridge part later.
I’m a Croatian girl and you know how Europeans love to pickle their cabbage. Pickled cabbage, on the other hand, is surely the wrong expression, because it’s nothing of pickled but an art of making it sour. So I think that German word for Sauerkraut is the most suitable for what I mean.
Anyway. Since I grew up with barrels of Sauerkraut, the different idea of fermented cabbage was more than welcomed.
As I’ve heard and tested in my kitchen, Kimchi is really a gift, not only from savvy Koreans but from heaven itself. You know that I don’t usually talk in nutritional tables but Kimchi certainly deserves one here.
Kimchi is very low in calories (45 per cup), stuffed with fibres, vitamins like A, B1, B2 and C, amino acids, probiotics and minerals like Calcium and Iron. And antioxidants, too, to prevent ageing!
Kimchi is good for regulating your digestion, cholesterol and blood glucose level. It is great for boosting your immunity and your health and wellbeing in general!
Did you know that Korea, after Japan, has the lowest percentage of obesity! And they eat Kimchi in anything and everything! So what better reason for digging into more Korean recipes and trying them for yourself.
So how do you make Kimchi? Simple. There are few simple things you need: cabbage, salt, water, vegetables, tbsp of flour or two, soy sauce and something really hot like red hot chilli flakes. In times when I didn’t have chilli flakes, I used red hot paprika which is something Croats (or Balkan people, for sure) always have or red hot curry paste. Whatever makes it hot, it goes!
Since Kimchi ferments in time, the taste and scent will become stronger. I like it most when it’s fresh, or up to few days old. After that, cabbage gets softer and taste more intense. Some people like that, some don’t. Maangchi says that Kimchi can’t go bad. Koreans are used to ripe, well fermented Kimchi but if you aren’t, make a smaller batch to see what you like the most for yourself.
Kimchi is best when kept in the fridge. I usually make enough for 10 days and then I make more because, as I said, I like it crispier. Peeps that can read Croatian can see how I made Kimchi with regular cabbage.
For this recipe, I used vegetables that I had on hand. You can use whatever you have too, check Maangchi’s original recipe! Also, for vegan version fish sauce is omitted but it doesn’t change things much.
And how to eat Kimchi? Well, with a nice bowl of hot, plain rice, that’s what I say!
January is often a month of “restrictions and detox” or “running away from the flue”. Either way, Kimchi fits in perfectly. Beautiful veggies are always welcomed, so do check my Creamy Beet&Bean Soup or The Simplest Garlic Broccoli Pasta, if you’re feeling minimalistic! 😉
Kimchi! Korean fermented cabbage. Super healthy, full of fibres, vitamins, antioxidants and other healthy stuff! Spicy, juicy, versatile, you gotta try it if you already didn't!
- 500 g /1 pound Nappa Cabbage
- 1 onion
- 3 carrots, julienned
- 1 cup cellery root, julienned
- zucchini, daikon, spring onions, other veggies you have on hand
- 500 ml /2 cups water
- 2 tbsp rice flour (or plain)
- 1 tbsp sugar or other sweetener. Or omit it, if you like.
- few tbsp hot pepper flakes or hot red paprika or 2 tbsp hot red curry paste (taste it, that's the best way to know!)
- 5 - 6 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp minced ginger
- 120 ml / 1/2 cup soy sauce
Remove any bad leaves from cabbage and cut the core stem off if it's too big. Gently cut the cabbage lengthwise into 4 equal parts. Immerse cabbage in the water to wash. Drain.
Divide leaves gently, not to break them. They have to be attached to the core (and if they do break, nothing bad will happen 😉 Sprinkle some salt on every leaf. Leave it aside for 30 till you prepare the rest of the veggies.
Cook the porridge: dissolve flour in water, add sugar and cook on low/medium heat till it's all nice and creamy. Set aside to cool down.
Julienne all the veggies. If you're not handy julienning veggies into match sized pieces, just cut them the smallest you can. Or, pulse them in your blender for a few times to get a little pieces.
Cabbage should be turned over every 30 mins. You can wait that long or just let it stay as long as it takes you to prepare veggies.
Rinse the cabbage gently and drain excess water.
Put veggies, spices and the porridge in a big bowl. Stir well to combine nicely. PUT THE GLOVES ON so you don't get red-handed 😉 Take one piece of cabbage, gently separate leaves and spread veggie porridge on them.
Put the cabbage into the container, press well and close tightly with the lid.
Keep Kimchi in the fridge for up to a month. Eat it right away or wait a day or two till it starts to ferment. Every time you open it, press the cabbage with a spoon gently. Kimchi can be eaten by itself, as a side dish, or in varieties of dishes as an ingredient. But the best and simplest way to enjoy it is to put some juicy Kimchi over a hot bowl of plain rice!
*You can use regular cabbage. Those leaves are firmer so I recommend to cut the cabbage into smaller pieces (or pulse it for a few times in your blender). The taste will be very similar but the best result is with Nappa cabbage.
Be sure to pin this hottie for later!