Edo Sushi Hyde Park 12-28-08  1
Creative Commons License photo credit: stevendepolo

Recently, here at home, we had a humongous Chinese cabbage in the fridge that needed to be used. If you’ve read Balanced Existence for any period of time you’d know I love to experiment and try new things. Experimentation is a wonderful way to open up our world and to learn. So I decided to put this huge cabbage to good use and make a spicy Korean pickled and fermented cabbage dish called Kim Chee.

If you don’t know much about Kim Chee it is so big in Korea they sent it into space with Korean astronauts. It amazes me how many traditional cultures make a big use of cabbage in their diet. Further, many cultures have traditionally allowed cabbage to ferment. This fermentation process produces healthy bacteria for your gut much like a modern day probiotic. We humans literally enjoy a symbiotic relationship with bacteria. They are very important for us to be able to absorb the nutrition in the food we eat, they help with the intestine movement that moves digestive matter and waste through the body and help keep our immune system functioning optimally.

Today, there is such a huge problem with fungus and yeast (yeast is a type of fungus and the one that cause my migraines and other health problems until I eliminated it) thanks in part to antibiotics, alcohol, over consumption of starchy carbohydrates such as grains and sugar. Fungus competes with bacteria in our bodies. Antibiotics are actually poisons produced by fungus to kill bacteria. As with anything balance is where health can be found. An imbalance between fungus and bacteria means they will no longer keep each other in check and many seemingly unrelated health problems is generally the result.

How to Make Kim Chee
For my Kim Chee I used one very large Chinese cabbage, good quality unprocessed sea salt, ginger, garlic, onion and ground cayenne pepper.

To begin I cut up the cabbage into pieces about 1.5 inches wide. Just think bite sized. These pieces of cabbage are then put into a big bowl with 4 cups of salt water. To make the salt water I used 1 tablespoon of salt to 1 cup of water. The cabbage is then allowed to sit in the salt water, turning occasionally for approximately 6 hours. Afterward pour the brine off but do not wash the cabbage. It should be salty but not unpleasantly so.

At this point I was surprised at just how good raw slightly pickled cabbage actually tastes. It was pretty good to eat right then and there. Once the water was drained off I added what amounted to roughly 5 tablespoons of finely shredded fresh ginger root. Together with a whole thinly sliced head of garlic, some thinly sliced onion and two tablespoons of cayenne pepper powder. If you’re not one for hot food I would suggest you go real easy on the cayenne or chili. You might like to start with just a tablespoon or even less for your first try.

I mixed this all up with my hands and then packed it all down into a big glass jar I had in the cupboard. You might like to soak your glass jar in boiling or very hot water before you put your fresh Kim Chee into it. If there is any liquid in the bottom of the bowl be sure to put this into the jar. Now sit your big jar of Kim Chee on a plate somewhere by the kitchen sink and let it stand for a day or so with the lid on. If you see some bubbles form you can release these by running a butter knife around the edge. Then you can put the jar into the fridge where it should keep for a couple of weeks. Honestly though I doubt it will last that long because if you’re anything like me you’ll eat it all way before it has a chance to go off! The Kim Chee is good to eat straight away. However as it begins to ferment the flavor will begin to change and evolve.

So there you have it. Honestly, it is dead simple. There are probably endless variations you could try including adding other vegetables such as Carrot. The Kim Chee you make can be used in soups, in stir fry or eaten as a side dish. I enjoyed eating mine as a snack simply with cheese or with some meat.

More on the Benefits of Kim Chee
Kim Chee is high in fiber and low in calories. One single serving can provide up to 80% of the daily recommended dosage of vitamin C and carotene. Thanks to the use of onions, garlic, ginger and chili or cayenne pepper Kim Chee is rich in vitamin A, B1, B2, Calcium, and Iron as well as containing lactic acid bacteria. Health magazine named Kim Chee in its list of the world’s top five healthiest foods for being rich in vitamins, aiding digestion, and possibly reducing cancer.

I used cayenne pepper because it’s great for the digestive system and the heart and it has been suggested that cayenne increases the effectiveness of other herbs when used with them. Cayenne has been known to rebuild stomach tissue, aid in elimination and assimilation and help create hydrochloric acid for good digestion and assimilation.

Garlic possesses potent anti-fungal and antibacterial properties and ginger is amazingly good for you. I’ll leave you to do your own searching into Ginger. You might also be interested to read about how a fellow managed to cure his stage 4 cancer in just a few weeks at very little expense using natural ingredients. Some of which you can put into and enjoy in your Kim Chee.

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