Thursday, January 8, 2009

Meet my new friend, Kim Chi

Doesn't it sound like a girl's name? Meet my new friend Kim, Kim Chi. I'm not sure if it's really kimchi or kim chi or kim chee, but any way, it's a pretty odd food if you didn't grow up with it. Although I am not of Korean descent, my mom spent every once in a while making kimchi. I distinctly remember the *smell* more than anything. It stunk and how! That may be enough to make you turn and run. But, for those of you adventurous enough, try this out!

There are plenty of different recipes out there, the more complicated ones are for you cooking freaks. I prefer to keep things simple and this recipe below was easy enough for me to make and didn't involve too many ingredients. I pulled this recipe from a book called Nourishing Traditions, one of my favorite cookbooks! If you want a cookbook that offers real_food recipes, this is definitely one to consider. It could turn your whole food world upside down.

But, before the recipe, here are the reasons why kimchi is so good for you:

  • If you make it yourself, kimchi is a real food (be careful with store-bought versions with MSG or other not-so-good-for-you food additives) and can be customized to your needs (for those of you with allergies, mild to blazing your butt off hot, etc.)

  • Fermented kimchi adds Lactobacilli bacteria and digestive enzymes to help your digestive tract do its work properly.

  • Those of you who have a "gassier" time eating cabbage may have an easier time eating kimchi because of the fermentation.

  • Cabbage is rich in calcium, magnesium, chlorophyll, folic acid, vitamin C, selenium, sulfur, and chlorine.

  • Cabbage is loaded with indoles, dithiolethiones, isothiocynates, and sulforaphanes, which are all cancer-fighting nutrients.

  • Spicy, hot foods have been shown to burn more calories than non-spicy foods.

  • It is one of the lowest calorie foods you can eat PLUS fiber.

  • Use kimchi as an appetizer, which will help fill you up so you eat less for your main meal.

  • It's veggies that you can use to add to your Veggie Total of the Day!

NOTE: people who have hypothyroidism should consume cabbage in moderation as it may interfere with the proper function of the thyroid!

1 Head napa cabbage, cored & shredded
1 Bunch green onions, chopped
1 C carrots, grated
1/2C Daikon radish, grated (optional, but I like!)
1 Tablespoon freshly grated ginger
3 Cloves garlic, peeled & minced
1/2 Teaspoon dried chili flakes (this is MILD, you can add more but be warned!)
1 Tablespoon sea salt (I like RealSalt)
4 Tablespoons homemade whey** (see below, if not available, use an additional 1 Tablespoon sea salt)

Place everything in a big bowl, mix, and pound with meat hammer to release juices (I just used my washed hands to squish the big pieces). Place in a quart-sized sealable container and mix well. You should see juices starting to come out of the vegetables within the first half hour and the mixture should start shrinking in size. Whatever container you are using, make sure that the kimchi is at least 1" below the lid and that all pieces are touching the liquid. Leave on your kitchen counter for three days, then promptly move the container into the fridge.

Enjoy a little bit each day, as an appetizer or side dish to your main meal. Aside from the cabbage and the salt, the rest of the ingredients are highly customizable, so experiment. If you strongly dislike the smell but like the benefits, say to yourself "food as medicine", chew, and swallow! A little kimchi a day can keep the doctor away.

** Homemade whey means homemade whey from scratch, not whey powder bought from the store. I will post the NT's recipe for whey some time into the near future. Lacto-fermentation was how people preserved food old-school style, before refrigeration and technology. If you don't have homemade whey, use the extra salt instead. Either way, it will turn out great!

Photo courtesy of foodista on flickr.

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