Ingredients You Should Be Using: Kimchi

Posted on: June 18th 2017

When you’re eating healthy, it can be easy to eat the same things over and over again (heck, I even encourage it in Derby Fuel). Usually, we have our favourites – those dishes that are easy to make and that we know we’ll enjoy. Having a few solid staples is an important part of planning and executing a good meal plan.

That said, there are SO many awesome foods out there! It’s definitely worth mixing it up from time to time. On that note, welcome to our new series on Ingredients You Should Be Using!

Today’s Ingredient: Kimchi

What is it?

Kimchi is a red, fermented cabbage dish made with a mix of vinegar, garlic, chili peppers, salt and other spices. The ingredients are fermented and canned for use in a variety of dishes.

Why is it good for me?

I’m sure you’ve heard the benefits of fermented food by now – they contain healthy bacteria (lactobacilli) that aid in your digestion, and probiotics that help to fight off infection. Generally, any fermented food (including yogurt and sauerkraut) are really good for your gut health. Kimchi is also high in Vitamin A (18% of your daily intake in one 100g serving). Vitamin A is an antioxidant that helps to fight free radicals in your system. The selenium and allicin found in the garlic in kimchi helps to decrease LDL (the bad kind of cholesterol in the body) and Selenium also helps to keep skin and hair healthy.

It’s also a pretty low-calorie food, only 40 calories per 150g. On top of that the capsaicin in the chili peppers helps to boost your metabolism, so you use up extra energy stores in the body.

Downside – lots of salt. If you have high blood pressure, keep an eye on your intake.

How do you make it? (recipe from The Kitchn)

You can choose to buy kimchi at the store if you’re pressed for time, but you can also make your own pretty easily.

Ingredients: 1 medium head (2 pounds) Napa cabbage, 1/4 C sea salt or kosher salt, Filtered Water, 1 tbsp. grated garlic (5 to 6 cloves), 1 tsp grated ginger, 1 tsp sugar, 1 to 5 tbsp. Korean red pepper flakes*, 8 oz. Korean radish (daikon), peeled and cut into matchsticks, 4 scallions cut into 1-inch pieces, 2 to 3 tbsp. seafood flavor (fish sauce, shrimp paste, cut up nori sheet, kelp powder – add some extra water) (if you choose not to add seafood taste, make sure to add extra water to the recipe)

* Korean red pepper flakes are called gochugaru and can be purchased at your local Asian market

Directions: Cut the cabbage in half lengthwise, then into quarters and remove the cores. Cut each quarter into roughly 2″ strips. Put the sliced cabbage into a big bowl, pour in the salt and massage until the cabbage starts to soften. Add enough water that it covers the cabbage, and then put a weighted down plate (use a jar or can) over top. Let stand 1-2 hours.

While you’re waiting, make the paste combining the garlic, ginger, sugar, and seafood flavor (or 3 tbsp. extra water) in a small bowl and mix to form a paste. Gradually add the chili flakes until the desired level of spice is achieved. Rinse the cabbage 3 times, and drain in a colander for 15-20 minutes. While it’s draining, rinse and dry out the big mixing bowl. Squeeze the remaining water out of the cabbage, and put it back in the big bowl with the other vegetable and the paste. Mix well (and wear gloves so the chili doesn’t sting or stain your hands). Once it’s mixed, pack the kimchi into a 1-quart mason jar, adding brine until it covers the vegetables.

Leave at least an inch of space at the top of the jar. Seal the jar and let it stand at room temperature for 1-5 days (keep a bowl under the jar to catch any overflow) (alternately, you can water-bath seal the jar if you’re a regular canner). If you’re not sealing the jar, check your kimchi daily and transfer it to the fridge once it tastes ripe enough for you. Like most canned stuff, it tastes better after a week or so in the fridge. The jar should be good for at least a month.

What can you make with it?

Now that you’ve got some delicious kimchi, what do you even do with it? So many things! Here are some ideas:

  • Add it to your morning scrambled eggs for some extra zip
  • Put it on top of any meat dish – steak, burgers, chicken, etc.
  • Mix some into noodles, rice dishes, and stir-frys
  • Pop some in a grilled cheese sandwich
  • Puree the kimchi and use it for sauces, even whip it into your devilled eggs

…and my favourite summer kimchi option – add it to your tacos, quesadillas, and burritos! Marinade your meat as usual, but when you’re sautéing veggies to add to your dish, toss into some kimchi and heat until the cabbage is softer and the mixture is heated through. Combine the meat, sautéed veggies, some sliced avocado and shredded cheese in a tortilla and get ready for some spicy goodness!

Are you a kimchi fanatic? Tell us how you eat it!

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