Winter is here (in Australia) and it does seem to be the season for sniffles, colds and flus. Boo! Nobody likes to get knocked around with whatever’s going around the office.
In order to be able to resist all the bugs we need a strong immune system. And to strengthen our immune system we need A) to reduce stress – hello regular massages! and B) to strengthen our good gut bacteria with probiotic rich foods!
I could talk about the benefits of massages and relaxation for hours… Instead I will share my tried and tested recipe for gut-friendly kimchi, which is a Korean style vegetable pickle. It is not only delicious, but also full of probiotics due to the fermentation process it goes through. In other words; a real immune booster. And to top things off, my kimchi includes a whole lot of ginger, turmeric, garlic and chili to bump up its flu-fighting abilities!
And the main thing is I eat this stuff DAILY. At breakfast, on my sourdough bread topped with cheese and butter. It is delicious, trust me. Its tangy flavour makes it a nice condiment or a side salad with your main meals.
MY VERSION OF KIMCHI
You may have had red’ish spicy kimchi at a Korean restaurant. Word of warning. Mine is quite different. This recipe has evolved over time, it is more like the German sauerkraut supercharged with Asian flavours. I can’t even remember where I got the initial recipe, I must have googled it. But once you make kimchi/sauerkraut once and know the process, you can keep improvising with flavours, and this is exactly what I have done. Here we go, are you ready? (It’s easy-peasy.)
- Thinly slice/chop about half a cabbage (any colour or variety), couple of carrots, handful of radishes, spring onions, bok choy, turnip, whatever crunchy veggies happen to be at hand. Add them to a large bowl. Toss to mix.
- Add a large 4-5cm piece of grated or sliced fresh ginger, several sliced cloves of garlic, either a large 4-5cm piece of fresh or couple of teaspoons of ground tumeric, fresh chillies (I usually only use one red chilli with seeds for a mild one, but you can use more if want a spicier one) or dried chilli powder to taste, I’d recommend starting with 1-2 teaspoons. Feel free to experiment with other spices too.
- Make a brine with a ratio of 1 tablespoon of rock salt per 1 cup of hot (filtered) water. I usually make about 5-6 cups.
- Once salt has dissolved, pour the liquid over the veggies and give them a little massage, softening the veggie mixture with your hands. If you’ve used a lot of chillies, I recommend wearing clean rubber gloves for this!
- Leave the veggie/brine mixture covered with a tea towel for a few hours. You can use this time to sterilize a large 1l jar or couple of smaller ones. Jars with wide mouths are the best, you’ll find out why.
- Line up your jars, and with clean hands take out a handful of veg mixture (let excess brine drain out back to the bowl) and start pressing it tightly to the bottom of the jar. Use your fists or a potato masher to push out as much air as possible. Keep filling and pressing.
- You’ll find out that as you push the veggie mixture down, the brine will rise to the surface. This is great! The layer of brine will act as a seal to keep the mixture air tight. Contact with air will spoil the kimchi. If you don’t have a about 1cm layer of brine sitting on the top, add some from the bowl.
- You need to keep the veggies submerged in the brine during the fermentation process, and for this you will need a weight. I use a drinking glass or a smaller jar (with water in it for extra weight) to sit inside of the larger kimchi jar (see picture). Leave the open kimchi jars sitting in the corner of the kitchen (covered in a tea towel) for 1-2 weeks to ferment. In summer when the weather is warmer, the fermentation process can be quicker, and vice versa in winter.
- I like to sit the jars in a baking tray or a deeper plate just in case the brine overflows. (Tried and tested this one too!)
SAMPLE AND CHECK
- Keep checking the kimchi every 1-2 days, use the weight to press down on the mixture to release more air bubbles. Don’t worry, you’ll never get all the air bubbles out, but as long as the veg stay submerged, you should be fine.
- You can sample the kimchi throughout the fermentation process (with clean hands to avoid not-so-good bacteria getting in and spoiling your pickle). When it is tangy enough for your liking, close the jars with a lid and refrigerate. I tend to eat mine in a month or so, but it should keep in the fridge for months and months.
Isn’t it amazing that something so yummy can be such a flu-fighter and health booster!? Have fun and get creative. And don’t forget to let me know how you go!
Stay well, my friend.
Riina Kosonen is a massage & craniosacral therapist based in Newcastle, Australia. She loves to experiment with natural remedies and recipes for better health and wellness. Read more about her philosophies here.