How to make kimchi... the easy way
NUTRIENT-PACKED AND GREAT FOR YOUR GUT, THIS KOREAN STAPLE CAN EVEN HELP YOUR MOOD, SAYS KYLIE BAILEY
good quality, organic kimchi is the definition of a mouth party
In Korea there are more than 100 types of kimchi
Spicy, salty, sour and crunchy, kimchi is a feisty, fiery ferment of bold brassicas, such as wombok (Chinese cabbage) and choy sum (Chinese leafy green), combined with daikon radish, gochugaru (Korean chilli powder), garlic and ginger.
One of Korea’s most well-known national dishes, its history dates back to the 12th century when Koreans developed a system of salting and fermenting vegetables to preserve them for winter. Every autumn, families would gather to do a kimjang – a communal kimchi preparation ritual.
While the kimchi that’s available in our health food stores and supermarket refrigerators is generally made with a base of cabbage, in Korea, there are more than 100 different types of kimchi, created with ingredients that vary both regionally and seasonally.
For example, pa-kimchi (made with green onions) is eaten in the spring, oi sobagi (cucumber) in the summer, wombok in the autumn and dongchimi (radish water kimchi) in the winter.
Good-quality, raw, organic kimchi is touted as the perfect side dish for any meal of Asian origin. Besides the fact it is the definition of a mouth party, there’s another far more vital reason to add a few tablespoons of this fermented pickle to your plate.
Since the beginning of time, traditional cultures have included raw, unpasteurised fermented foods in their diets because of their powerful medicinal properties. The fermentation process increases the bioavailability of the nutrients, making it easier for the body to absorb so that fermented foods are more nutrient-dense than their raw vegetable equivalents. In addition raw, naturally fermented kimchi contains lactic acid and living probiotic microorganisms, such as beneficial bacteria.
Research has shown that eating plenty of fermented foods is a way to continually assist in repopulating your gastrointestinal (GI) tract with friendly bacteria. Having enough of these bacteria in the body is so important because the GI tract is home to the largest part of our immune system. It plays a key role in warding off foreign invaders by helping with the production of acids and the introduction of beneficial bacteria. Both of these act as an internal defence system to protect against the pathogens that find their way inside the body.
By choosing to regularly eat natural living foods, such as kimchi, we do our bit to nurture the health of the microorganisms present in our GI tract.
Recent estimates suggest we have 30 trillion microorganisms living in our gut and researchers are now discovering that the health of the microbiome may be one of the most important factors in disease prevention. Especially because we have the power to influence it through the foods that we eat, the environments we live in and the way we move our bodies.
While it used to be considered that DNA was the most important factor in disease development, new science has proved that while genes do play a role, their actual expression is dependent in large part by which microbes are present.
That’s why introducing fermented foods to your diet is such a game-changer because they very quickly create positive momentum for your microbiome.
Studies have shown eating fermented foods such as kimchi can effectively reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, which is increasingly being viewed as a symptom of poor gut health.
The way fermented foods influence mood is because they directly activate the neural pathway from the gut to the brain.
This is particularly important to assist in the production of beneficial neurochemicals, especially when you consider that 90 per cent of a neurochemical such as serotonin, which regulates mood, is produced in the GI tract.
It’s why in one recent study researchers found that fermented foods and drinks helped curb social anxiety disorder in young adults.
Along with the beneficial microorganisms that come from the fermentation process, kimchi is also full of health benefits because of its base ingredients.
Chinese cabbage and leafy greens belong to the brassica family and are known as cruciferous vegetables (along with broccoli, cauliflower and more). These vegetables are known for their disease-fighting properties because they are rich in sulforaphane, a sulfur compound which scientific research indicates may reduce the severity of many chronic illnesses, improve blood pressure and kidney function and stabilise blood sugar levels.
Need any more reason to pop a jar of kimchi in your basket when you next shop?
Fermented food such as kimchi can reduce symptoms of anxiety