Opinion—Kimchi: my flavor of the month


Maggie Duly/NW

MAKING KIMCHI—Kimchi is easy to make, nutritious and full of beneficial bacteria which can help your gut. Try making it; your health might thank you!

Maggie Duly, Social Media Editor

You never really think you’ll miss the dining hall food when you move out of the dorms, or at least I didn’t think I would. But here I am, eating ramen or a can of corn for dinner some nights because after a long day of being a college student I’m too tired to cook a real meal. I try to make a point of buying groceries that will force me to make real meals with actual nutrients in them, but it doesn’t always go as planned. 

Recently, I’ve been obsessed with this one recipe that may or may not be very nutritious. I call it college ramen but I try to make it chic. Yeah, okay, the base of this dish is everyone’s favorite: Maruchan Ramen. What really brings this dish home is the toppings. Kimchi is a staple food in Korean cuisine and it is the real star of my daily dinner. It’s a traditional side dish of fermented vegetables, most often napa cabbage. It is also a great source of “good bacteria” known as probiotics. The bacteria found in yogurt and other fermented dairy products are also found in kimchi. 

Since I’m obsessed with my kimchi ramen, I decided to take a break from the store bought kind and make my own spicy kimchi. What’s really cool about this side is it only requires a few ingredients and you can design it for your liking.

Fermenting is a tricky process and I’m no expert. For starters you will need filtered water because the chlorine and chloramine chemicals often found in tap water makes it impossible for the good bacteria to grow. I researched multiple recipes and tricks and came up with what I think would be the easiest way to make homemade kimchi.

Ingredients list: 

1 small/medium napa cabbage 

1 cup matchstick carrots 

1 cup Korean radish (cut into matchstick size)

Fish sauce

2-6 tablespoons Korean chili paste Gochujang

1 tablespoon fresh ginger

4 garlic cloves

1 shallots

¼ cup sea salt 

2 teaspoons sugar 

Filtered water

Begin by rinsing your napa cabbage, chop it into bite size pieces and place in a large bowl. Save two whole outer leaves for later. Salt the cabbage and mix it around. Then cover it with filtered water and place a plate on top and press down to ensure the cabbage is submerged. Let sit in your refrigerator for 4-6 hours. 

Chop the radish into matchstick size pieces. Do the same thing with the carrots or you can buy them that way at the store. Feel free to add any other veggies at this point. 

Drain the cabbage, but save the water it was soaking in for later. Rinse the cabbage through a few times and press all the water out. 

Combine the radishes and carrots into the drained cabbage.

Make the sauce. Combine garlic cloves, the shallot, fish sauce, sugar (I used brown sugar and honey), ginger and the chili paste in a food processor. I wanted mine to be spicy so I used 5 tablespoons of the chili paste. I used a Nutribullet to blend my sauce.

Drizzle the sauce over the vegetables and mix it around so there is an even coating. The sauce will be spicy, so use gloves or tongs. 

Now it’s time to repurpose your old glass jars. Fill the jars with the mixture and press down on the cabbage to ensure there is at least 2 inches of room at the top for the fermentation to occur.

Fill the jars with the cabbage water you set aside until the mixture is submerged. Press down one more time with the spare cabbage leaves to make sure the mixture is fully submerged.

Screw the lids on, but not tightly. Place the jars on a plate with a lip or in a bowl to catch any overflowing juice that might occur during the process. Now wait 3-5 days for fermentation to occur.

As I said I’m no expert so if you want to try this at home do a little research on kimchi and fermentation. I do know that it is an excellent source of probiotics and it’s super tasty. I’ll be back in 3-5 days with an update on how mine turned out.

MIX IT UP—The ingredients for kimchi are easy to come by but they’re sure to spice up your life. (Maggie Duly/NW)