Kimchi, Korea’s most popular dish, is cabbage fermented in a paste of garlic, salt, vinegar, chilli peppers and other spices. It’s traditionally served at every meal, either alone or mixed with rice or noodles, in soups or pancakes, and even as a topping on pizza and burgers!
It’s become a hit in the UK as the benefits of fermented food on gut health have become better understood. As well as being loaded with vitamins A, B, and C, it contains the healthy bacteria lactobacilli, good for digestion. There’s evidence it also helps to stop and even prevent yeast infections and prevent the growth of some types of cancer.
For salting cabbage:
2 large Chinese cabbages (or green or pointed cabbages)
150g fine salt
2 tbsp sweet rice flour
2 tbsp brown sugar
Bunch of radishes, cut into matchsticks
2-3 medium-sized carrots, cut into matchsticks
5 spring onions, sliced into matchsticks
Seasonings and spices:
24 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp ginger, minced
1 medium onion, minced
100g hot gochugaru pepper flakes (available from Oriental supermarkets), or substitute with ½ jar of Thai red curry paste
For the full flavour add 5 tbsp of fish sauce and 2 tbsp of fermented salted shrimp, both available from Oriental supermarkets.
Split the cabbages in half, then cut a 6cm slit through the core of each half, so cabbage leaves are loose but still attached.
Rinse well. Sprinkle salt between the leaves by lifting up each one and getting the salt in. Use more salt on the thicker stems near the core.
Let them to rest for 2 hours. Turn every 30 minutes, so they get well salted. From time to time ladle some of the salty water from the bottom of the basin over top of the cabbages.
After 2 hours, rinse well under cold running water. As you wash, split the halves into quarters along the slits you cut into earlier. Cut off the cores and put them in a strainer over a basin so they can drain well.
While the cabbage is salting, you can make the porridge:
Combine the water and rice flour in a small pot. Mix well and let it cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes until it starts to bubble. Add the sugar and cook 1 minute, stirring. Remove from the heat and let it cool off completely.
Pour cooled porridge into a large mixing bowl. Add the seasoning and spices and mix into a thin paste.
Add the radish, carrot, and spring onion and stir well.
Cover each leaf in a quarter with paste, wrap it around itself into a small packet, and put into your jar or container.
The kimchi will start fermenting a day or two at room temperature. You’ll be able to tell because it will smell and taste sour and pressing on it with a spoon will release bubbles from beneath. Store in the fridge and use as needed for up to 2 months.
Eat with plain rice and a soft egg or some tofu or use in a stir fry or a noodle broth.
A bit about Better Food…
For his 16th birthday, Phil Haughton’s mum gave him an unusual gift – a year’s membership to the Soil Association, the campaigning charity and certifying body who now oversee 70% of organic licencing in the UK. Not your typical teenager, he was delighted, and it sparked a life long commitment to sustainable farming, eating and living …
By the mid-90s, he’d set up shop on Gloucester Road in Bristol, and his business Better Food was born. 26 years on and it’s still first and foremost an organic business, offering customers a range of some 3000 product lines in three stores and focusing heavily on fresh produce. Bringing the best from the South West’s food basket to Bristol means they also give many small businesses a secure route to market.
Three in-store cafés make brunches, lunches and snacks using 93% organic ingredients, with lots of choice for people following specific diets, such as dairy free, gluten free and sugar free.
Phil is still leading from the helm, and an unwavering active advocate, innovator and pioneer in the organic movement.
Why choose organic as part of a healthy diet?
Organic farming uses fewer pesticides – the standards allow only 20 as opposed to the 400-odd allowed in non-organic farming. Soil Association cites research that suggests that if all UK farming was organic, pesticide use would drop by 98%!
Antibiotics are not routinely used – farm animals now account for almost two-thirds of all antibiotics used in the EU. This over-use is causing a crisis in antibiotic resistance in animals and humans alike.
It’s nutritionally superior – organic crops are up to 60% higher in a number of key antioxidants than conventionally-grown ones. Another study has also shown that both organic milk and meat contain around 50% more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids than conventionally produced products.
A note from our Nutritional Therapist, Janey Twigger…
Whilst we recognise that organic produce offers lower pesticide exposure, we do also understand that it can sometimes incur a higher price tag. As we don’t want to prevent people from buying health promoting foods, we believe the most important thing is to eat plenty of vegetables and fruit, whole grains, good quality protein and healthy fats, whether organic or not.