Come January, many of us wish we'd eaten and drunk less and generally wish we felt a bit lighter on our feet come impending returns to work. When I need something full of flavour, yet healthy, I end up reaching for KIMCHI!
Kimchi is a fermented product originating from Korea. It generally comprises (in its basic form) of cabbage, chilli, garlic and fermented fish. You may all have stopped reading by now with the previous ingredients list making you feel sick without having even touched a drop of booze, but remember Koffka's [slightly incorrectly translated] words: "the whole is more than the sum of its parts". Kimchi has a deep flavour owing to its aging and fermentation, and a great savouryness from the garlic rounded off with a warm zippyness from the chilli. Kimchi is touted as having great health benefits, being high in fibre and Vitamin C and being low in calories. Due to the lactic acid bacterial activity, many believe Kimchi also has the power to combat illness, disease and even cancer! If that doesn't motivate you to make Kimchi, nothing will!
1. Place the salt in a pan with half the water, warm until the salt has dissolved and take off the heat, add the remaining water and leave to cool. This is a salt brine to keep a crispness in the cabbage while it ferments.
2. Cut your cabbage into thick strips, it will break up into nice 1x1 inch-ish pieces. Peel and julienne the Mooli (I do thin strips on a mandoline as it is easier). Place the cabbage and Mooli in the salt brine and weigh down with a plate. Leave for 2/3 hours.
3. Taste a piece of cabbage from the brine, it will be salty and crispy, if not return to the brine for another hour or so. Rinse the cabbage under cold running water for 3-4 minutes, this will remove any excess salt. Strain the cabbage and allow to drip dry for 10 or so minutes.
4. Next you will need to make your marinade, clean and chop the spring onions into 1cm long pieces and set aside. In a blender/food processor put your peeled garlic, ginger and chillies in and pulse until chopped up slightly, add the fish sauce and blend until as smooth as possible.
5. Add the cabbage to a clean bowl and pour over the marinade, add the spring onions and mix with clean hands until each leaf is coated well. Don't spill the marinade or your flat will smell of fermented fish for ages (believe me I know)!
6. Once well mixed, place the kimchi into your clean sterile containers, cover and leave out of the fridge for at least 2-3 days if not a week. After a couple of days you should notice the Kimchi starting to bubble and may have to loosen the lid on your container to release excess gas. This is a good thing and means your Kimchi is starting to ferment!
It can be eaten now as 'fresh' Kimchi, or transferred to the fridge to slow the fermentation allowing you to enjoy your Kimchi for weeks yet to come. The Koreans generally believe the older the better! A.