history: Kimchi’s history is rich in flavours and adaptation. Its origins can be traced back to 3000 years ago in Korea where salt was used as a method of preserving vegetables during the cold winters. Over the years it evolved with the introduction of chilli peppers and spices such as garlic and ginger, nowadays there are over 200 types of kimchi.
what is it? Spicy fermented vegetables
flavour: Flavour packed, pungent and a little sour
Kimchi is created by lacto-fermentation, which is fermentation by lactobacillus bacteria. The fermentation is carried out by various microorganisms present in the ingredients.
This kimchi recipe hits a MEGA 15 on the variety counter.
2 tbsp sea salt
1 chinese leaf cabbage (napa cabbage)
2 carrots, grated
1 bunch spring onions
100g fresh ginger
6 large garlic cloves
2 red chillies
1-3 tbsp Korean chilli flakes or cayenne pepper
2 tbsp tamari (optional)
Store it in the fridge where it will keep well for at least 4 months.
Ferments can be contaminated in a number of different ways, however not all forms of mould are harmful (no double dipping!).
A thin, white, crinkly film with no fuzz is often yeast. Specifically, kahm yeast. Kahm yeast can be skimmed from the surface and the ferment will still be safe to eat. Mould is raised and fuzzy, it can be black, white, green pink or blue. Should mould crop up, throw the whole ferment away.
Your own personal preference is a big factor here. Smell and taste it. If it smells pleasant to the nose and tastes sufficiently soured to your palate, it’s ready to transfer to the fridge.
Yes! It will ferment faster during warmer months and slower during cooler months. Be wary of fermenting your kimchi in a room that’s too hot, as that can make the cabbage mushy.
It’s possible your kimchi fermented in a room that was too hot. Higher temperatures can lead to the bacteria becoming a bit overactive, breaking down the structure of the vegetables. That doesn’t mean it’s unsafe to eat by any means, just not the most pleasant. Unfortunately, there’s no way to bring a mushy ferment back, so it’s best to start over and try again. Try fermenting in a cooler corner of your kitchen, in a well ventilated area, or even in a cool cupboard. Beyond that, using tannic vegetable leaves (like whole tea leaves) will cause your ferments to firm up as they mature. Feel free to line the top of your sauerkraut with some of those leaves instead of a reserved cabbage leaf to help form a seal and improve the texture of your ferment.
Many recipes for kimchi do use some types of preserved seafood, like dried anchovies or fish sauce. In our recipe, to keep it vegetarian and gluten free (in case there are any allergens in your household) we opted for the addition of tamari. But if you’d like it to taste a little richer, with a bit more funk, don’t shy away from supplementing the tamari with the same amount of your favourite fish sauce.
*Fermented foods may not be suitable for everyone, for example, if you are immunocompromised. Speak to your medical professional if you have any concerns.