Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I am thinking Korean

We made a trip to the local Korean grocer earlier this week. We have driven by many times, but have not stopped. Then when Ken from Living the Life in Saint Aignan posted about kimchi, I knew I had to stop and visit the friendly Korean lady.

She was amazed that we were interested in making our own kimchi. I explained to her that in the 70's, we had lived across the street from a Korean woman. She had met her husband, an American soldier, during the Korean war, fell in love and moved to America with him. She taught me a lot about Korean cooking and one of the favorite dishes I learned to make was Korean kimchi.

It is recorded in records that kimchi was first fermented in the period of 59 BC - 668 AD. Born in Korea around the 7th century, it was not until the 18th century before hot red pepper was added. I copied the following paragraph because I found it very interesting.

Well-fermented kimchi has anti-biotic functions as lactic acid bacteria produced in the process of fermentation that suppresses growth of harmful bacteria.
This bacteria not only gives a sourish flavor to matured kimchi but also prevents excessive fermentation by restraining growth of other bacteria in the intestines.
Not only that, substances in kimchi prevent hyperacidity resulting from excessive intake of meat and other acidic foods.
Most ingredients of kimchi are low in calories and sugar but contain high amounts of fibers, diverse vitamins (especially vitamins A and C), and minerals (such as calcium and iron).
Lactic acid in kimchi restrains the growth of harmful bacteria in intestines and help relieve intestinal disorders. In addition, the lactic acid is efficacious for preventing adult diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and even gastrointestinal cancers.
Not only that, the juice from vegetables and salt in kimchi help intestines remain clean.
Some substances in kimchi help promote the secretion of pepsin (protein-digestive enzyme) and maintain the presence of a certain number of bacteria.

The fiber in cabbage is not a nutrient, but it aids digestion, allows smooth movement of food through the intestines, and helps prevent constipation and intestine cancer. Red chili peppers and garlic help to lower blood cholesterol and aid in blood clotting. The nutrients and activities of the various micro-organisms produced during fermentation are also very beneficial to the human body.

Kimchi from my friend Lee

One head of Napa cabbage. Sprinkle cut up cabbage with Kosher salt for about 5 hours. Drain and rinse many times until the salt taste is almost gone.

Put in large bowl and add:

3 diagonal cut spring onions
We also added a large bunch of oriental chives
1 large mashed garlic clove
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
2-3 teaspoons hot red Korean pepper
2 teaspoons fish sauce

Mix well with the cabbage and pack tightly into a quart jar. Add water to the top and seal with lid.
Keep at room temperature for 2 days and then refrigerate.

The photo above shows my quart of kimchi. It is sitting in my laundry room wrapped in a towel. Care needs to be taken when the jar is opened for the first time. Much like sauerkraut, it will start bubbling over the top of the jar.

After my brother, a Captain in the Air Force, was shot down over North Vietnam in 1967, he was sent back to the states for 6 months and then sent to Korea. I remember his letters to me telling me how the Koreans bury jars of the kimchi and then dig them up to eat after it has fermented. He learned to love it. I wish he lived closer to me so that I could share this with him. Next time I visit him, I will take a jar along hoping it will not explode in the car.

We eat kimchi like most people would eat pickles or any condiment. It is typically eaten with meat, with rice and just about with every meal. Kimchi can also be made from cucumbers and often Daikon radish slices are added.

It has been much too long since we had this Korean treat. I am thinking I need to make some of the other recipes my friend Lee taught me.


  1. Susan, I enjoyed reading about your connection with Kimchi and all its benefits. It sounds like a great condiment that would be good with many dishes.

    Good luck at transporting a jar to your brother... if it should explode, it could be a long ride before that cabbage smell leaves your car!

  2. Wow, I've never made my own kimchi before. It's gorgeous. I'll have to look for a Korean grocery store now.

  3. George, that is why it is fermenting in my laundry room! And when it goes in the refrigerator, the jar will have to be put in a large ziploc bag. No need to explain further. The Trout reminded me that the favorite way for us to eat this is on a great hotdog.

  4. Interesting... Makes me wish we had a Korean Store here...

    I can look for the ingrediants in the international isle...;-)


  5. Susan you will be able to find the fish sauce in the oriental section of most grocers, but the red pepper, which is essential is more difficult to find. I had to be a 1 pound bag. I think it will last a lifetime, and it was very inexpensive. If you are really interested, I'd gladly send you some. Email me. That goes for anyone else needing some of this pepper.

  6. Hmmm how interesting, I've never tried this. It sure looks good in your jar...but not sure.

    Happy Wednesday guys!!

  7. Super post, Susan! Loved the info about kimchi. I've only had it once, in Miami, at a restaurant called Michael's Genuine- very innovative chef and an eclectic menu. Liked it a lot. Knew what it was as my husband served in Korea for a year.
    We had some good Chinese friends in the Air Force; she taught me some really easy and quick Chinese recipes. I make them frequently. Can't wait to hear about more goodies from your Korean friend.

  8. You make me almost want to try making kimchi, but I am not a cabbage fan. I looks so good.

    I tried making sauerkraut one time and it smelled so bad I never tried again.

    Thanks for visiting me today.

  9. I think I should find a Korean market. I think we would really enjoy making and eating kimchi.

  10. It's not easy to attempt this dish and you have done it so well, Susan! I cheat and have my mother do it for me! :) Look forward to get to know you through your blog. You have some wonderful stories & recipes to tell!