Korean food is among one of my favorites. I am drawn into its hearty, distinct and often spicy taste. One of the most interesting characteristics about Korean food is that they are often fermented. No Korean meal is completed without Kimchi. Kimchi is a fermented vegetable dish with a variety of seasonings, and tastes spicy and sour. It was listed by Health magazine as one of the healthiest food in the world. It is packed with vitamin A, B, and C, minerals, and most of all, lactobacilli (healthy bacteria, which helps with digestion). Kimchi is mostly made with Napa cabbage. Study also shows that fermented cabbage can help to prevent the growth of cancer.
Now, we know enough benefits of eating Kimchi. How do you make it? Below I am going to provide two recipes, the first is how to prepare Kimchi at home, and the second is how to make Kimchi Stew with Tofu. If you do not want to wait for a week for the homemade Kimchi to get ready, you can also find ready-made Kimchi in most Asian stores.
What you'll need:
1 Napa cabbage (around 900 g or 2 lbs)
3 tbsp of sea salt
1 1/2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 tbsp grated garlic
4 spring onions, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
2-5 tbsp Korean chili flakes (Asian store)
1/4 cup of rice vinegar
1/2 tsp fish sauce
How it's made:
1. Remove outer leaves of the cabbage, cut it lengthwise into quarters and remove the cores. Cut each quarter crosswise into 2-inch-wide strips.
2. Place the cabbage and salt in a large bowl. Using your hands to massage the salt into the cabbage until it starts to soften a bit. Put a plate on top with something heavy, like a jar of water or can of tomatoes to weigh down. Set aside for at least 3 hours or overnight.
3. Rinse the cabbage under cold water thoroughly to remove the salt and drain in a colander for 20 minutes or use hands to squeeze out excess water.
4. Mix the garlic, ginger, honey, vinegar and fish sauce together in a small bowl until well combined. Add 2 tablespoon of Korean chili for mild taste and up to 5 tablespoons for spicy taste.
5. Add the seasoning mix, spring onions and cabbage in the big bowl. Use hands or salad servers to combine the mixture well. I normally wear instant rubber gloves to protect my hands.
6. Place the kimchi into a glass jar and seal the jar with the lid. Place a plate under the jar to keep catch any overflow of the brine. Leave the jar in room temperature for 3-4 days.
7. Check the kimchi daily by pressing down on the cabbages with a clean spoon or fork to keep them below the brine. Then put in the jar in the fridge for another 2-3 days before eating. Once the jar is opened, the best is to consume it within two weeks. If the jar is not opened, you can keep it in the fridge for 4-5 weeks (maybe even longer, I don't know, because I normally finish them within a week).
Kimchi Stew with Tofu
What you'll need:
200 g Kimchi, homemade or ready-made from a package, reserve a 1/2 cup of Kimchi juice
1/2 small onions, thinly sliced
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
1 or 2 tbsp Korean chili flakes, depending on your taste
2 tsp Korean Chili paste
200 g silky tofu, cut into large cubes
1 tsp sesame oil
Salt, to taste
How it's made:
1. Heat a pot in medium heat until hot, and then add the onions and kimchi. Sauté until the mixture is fragrant.
2. Add Kimchi juice, chili flakes, chili paste into the pot. Then pour some cold water over to just cover the mixture. Gently stir to make sure the mixture is well combined.
3. Cover the pot and turn up the heat. When the pot is boiling, turn down the heat to medium low and let it simmer for further 10-15 mins.
4. Add tofu cubes and cook for further 5 mins. In between, gently stir to make sure tofu is cooked in the mixture. Be careful not to break the tofu too much. Then switch off the heat and add sesame oil and salt to taste. Finally add spring onions on the top and serve.