Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Can-Do Kimchi

What comes to mind when you hear the words “fermented foods”? Do you picture some exotic, oddly colored brew that you’d have to be a little screwy to even think about putting in your mouth? The truth is that a lot of our favorite, tried-and-true foods have undergone the fermentation process. Want to see some fermented foods and drinks that we regularly consume? Just take a quick look around – cheese, bread, chocolate, yogurt, wine. Not so exotic, eh?

Our ancestors were pretty smart cookies. They had to find ways of preserving food, both for journeys, and for storing through bounties into leaner times.  While the exact details of the first fermentation experiments remain a mystery, what we do know is that all over the globe, and throughout human history, people have been letting food “spoil” in order to keep it “fresh”. What we also know is that these “spoiled” foods are chock-full of the good bacteria that we need in order to have healthy and optimally functioning bodies. This is especially critical in modern times, with rampant antibiotic use, not just in medical practice, but also in our food supply. It’s true that antibiotics are handy for killing off bacteria that can cause us great harm. But they are also notorious for being the battering ram that simultaneously lays waste to the good bacteria our bodies need for the proper functioning of the digestive and immune systems. If the gut is depleted of these protector bacteria, we are left open to all kinds of disease. So, it’s critical that we regularly replenish the good bacteria.

And that’s where fermented foods come in to save the day. But sadly, our modern day methods of large-scale food production, coupled with an almost obsessive vigilance about keeping food free of germs, has left us with little in the way of truly fermented foods. That’s why I prefer to make my own at home. And it’s much easier to do than you might imagine.  Here is a recipe for one of my favorite side dishes, kimchi. Kimchi, Korea’s national dish, is quite possibly the best fermented food you can eat. Made up entirely of healthful vegetables and fruits, Kimchi provides a low-fat, highly-nutritious way to give yourself a healthy dose of protective gut bacteria. And, it’s so easy to make and delicious to eat, you just might find yourself asking, “Oh, kimchi, where have you been all my life?”

Tamera’s Easy Kimchi

1 large organic napa cabbage, cut into bite size pieces
8 cups water
1/2 cup sea salt

Mix the salt and water, and soak the cabbage in it for 1 1/2 hours. After soaking is complete, rinse the cabbage well to remove salt.  Once rinsed and dried, mix softened cabbage into sauce (recipe below).

1/2 apple, peeled
1/2 pear, peeled
1/2 sweet onion
3/4 head of garlic, peeled
2-inch piece of ginger, skin removed
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 cup crushed red pepper

Chop all ingredients and mix in blender until smooth.

5 radishes, chopped julienne
6 green onions, chopped julienne

Combine radishes and onions with blended sauce in a bowl, then stir in the softened cabbage. Allow kimchi to sit for 12 hours at room temperature and refrigerate thereafter.

And there you have it, folks. Make a batch of this health-insurance-in-a-bowl, put it in your fridge and have some with your meal every day. 


  1. This is Great Tamera!!! We all that good bacteria, especially in present day like you said!

    1. Yes! Without the good bacteria, we wouldn't be alive very long. :)

  2. is the fruit truly necessary or can it be left out?

    1. Without the fruit, the kimchi won't taste the same or ferment the same. But, I always say, without experimentation, we'll never discover new things. So, if you decide to make the kimchi and substitute something else for the fruit or leave it out altogether, let me know how it turns out. I'm always willing to learn new things. :)