Kimchi: Why This Delicious Korean Staple is Also a Health Wonderfood (Includes a Kimchi Recipe!)
The next time you take a family picture, point the camera and have everyone say, “Kimchi!” Koreans use the word kimchi when they take pictures the same way Americans say “cheese!” This sour, spicy Korean dish is one of the five healthiest foods in the world, according to Health magazine.
Have you heard of kimchi, the Korean fermented food thatHealth magazine named one of the “top five healthiest foods in the world?”
If not, then you are missing out on health benefits like: lowered cholesterol, improved digestion, essential vitamins and minerals, and live probiotics.
What Is KIMCHI?
Kimchi has been a staple of Korean cuisine for centuries and is served with every meal. With this delicious and nutritious food on the menu, it’s no wonder that Koreans, who traditionally eat a diet based on vegetables, grains, and fermented foods, are some of the healthiest people on the planet.
Koreans do eat small amounts of protein including meat and seafood, but their consumption of fermented kimchi is what sets their diet apart.
Traditional kimchi is made from cabbage, garlic, red pepper, and salt. Some people like to add other flavors, using scallions or ginger. Another option is to include shredded apple for a touch of sweetness.
Regardless of ingredients, the vegetables are chopped into bite-sized pieces or are shredded. They are then mixed together with seasonings and fermented (in the olden days they were buried underground in earthenware pots, where they fermented at a constant 55-degree temperature.)
The result is a nutrient-dense superfood that is healthier than almost anything else you can possibly eat.
Kimchi for Life
Koreans have known for many centuries what other cultures are just now discovering: fermented foods are the key to a healthy digestive system and immunity.
New studies shed light on kimchi’s effectiveness in fighting viral infections and point to kimchi as a potential cancer fighter.
Other evidence shows that the fermentation process multiplies the availability of the vitamins, minerals and all other nutrients in kimchi and indicates that the probiotics in kimchi are crucial to our well being.
Here at Body Ecology, we are excited about the attention kimchi is getting in the media because it increases awareness about fermented foods and beverages in general.
Body Ecology has always emphasized the importance of a vital inner ecosystem, with plenty of good bacteria (microflora) in your intestines to boost immunity. Fermented foods and beverages, like kimchi, provide the necessary microflora that work to keep you healthy and strong.
Get all the immune-boosting benefits of fermented cabbage and other vegetables in kimchi, a delicious Korean staple. You can EASILY make your own kimchi at home with Body Ecology’s Culture Starter
Try this great Kimchi Recipe to see for yourself how good fermented vegetables can be!
- 2 heads of Napa cabbage (or another Chinese cabbage variety), shredded in a food processor
- 5-10 scallions or spring onions (similar to scallions, only stronger and hotter in flavor), finely chopped
- 2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 teaspoon crushed, fresh ginger or powdered ginger
- 2 jalapeños, minced fine
- 2 tablespoons crushed fresh red chili pepper
- Half an onion (optional)
- Culture Starter
- ½ teaspoon Celtic Fine Grind Seasalt
- 2 tablespoons of honey or 1-3 scoops of EcoBloom as food for the microflora (see below)
- Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, except culture starter, sea salt, EcoBloom or honey.
- Remove several cups of this mixture and put into a blender.
- Add enough filtered water with the mixture in your blender to make a “brine” the consistency of a thick juice. Add starter, salt and EcoBloom or honey. Blend well and then add brine back into first mixture. Stir well.
- Pack mixture down into 1½ quart glass or stainless steel container with an airtight lid. Use your fist, a wooden dowel, or a potato masher to pack veggies tightly.
- Fill container almost full, but leave about 2 inches of room at the top for veggies to expand.
- Roll up several cabbage leaves into a tight “log” and place them on top to fill the remaining 2 inch space. Clamp jar closed or screw on air tight lid.
- Let veggies sit at about a 70-degree room temperature for at least three days. A week is even better. Refrigerate to slow down fermentation. Enjoy!
To use Body Ecology’s Culture Starter:
- Dissolve one or two packages of Culture Starter in 1½ cup warm (90°) water. Add some form of sugar to feed the starter (try Rapadura, Sucanat, honey, Agave, or EcoBloom).
- Let starter/sugar mixture sit for about 20 minutes or longer while the L. Plantarum and other bacteria begin to wake up. Add this starter culture to the brine (step 3 in the instructions, above).
A Note About Sugar, Salt and Spice
Are you wondering why honey or some type of sweetener would be used in this recipe? The reason is that healthy microflora actually need food to grow, just like us. Microflora like sweets, like sugars, and they “eat” the sugar up in the fermentation process, leaving us with all the healthy benefits of fermented foods. To learn more about feeding healthy microflora with prebiotics, read: How to Make Your Gut Most Inviting to Healthy Probiotics. Many kimchi recipes have large amounts of chili powder, salt and other spices that can inhibit the growth of healthy microflora in the initial stages of fermentation. At Body Ecology, we believe that the most potent method of fermenting foods is to use a starter culture. As for salt…we do love high quality sea salt – like the highly recommended Celtic Sea Salt — but only a small amount. You can add more after the veggies are fermented and before eating them (if desired). The end product will be teeming with the beneficial microflora that aids our health and vitality.
Suggestion: Instead of chili powder used in many traditional kim chi recipes use fresh jalapenos and chili peppers to give your kimchi that “kick”.
- Raymond, Joan, World’s Healthiest Foods, Health Magazine http://www.health.com/health/package/0,23653,1150042,00.html
- Victory, Joy, Is Sauerkraut the Next Chicken Soup? ABCNews.com , 8 Nov 2005. http://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=1289433