Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Kimchi or Kimchee -- one of the best ways to eat raw vegetables!

Kimchee: I love Korean food and particularly "Kimchi" or "Kimchee" -- a Korean delicacy which is just raw vegetables pickled in brine, spices, chiles, ginger and garlic. Although I had been to Korean restaurants in California, I developed my love of Kimchee from eating the Kimchee served at the "Bento Box" which was my favorite Japanese/Korean Restaurant located in the Overlake Shopping Center in Redmond, WA.

Bento Box: When I first moved from California to Washington and I was studying for the CFA exam, I had to study in the Seattle University Library after work until the Library closed at 9:00 pm. I would get to Eatside and Bellevue, where I then lived, very late at night and often too tired to cook!

Eventually, I discovered the "Bento Box Restaurant" -- a small local restaurant which was then owned by a young Korean couple who had moved from California to Washington the year before I arrived in Washington. The husband had worked for a Japanese restaurant in California. When they moved to Washington they purchased the restaurant and decided to serve Japanese/Korean food. The food was fresh and most items were made from scratch. Their Kimchee was the best Kimchee I had ever had! It did not come from a bottle -- it was made from scratch so you could really taste the ingredients! Their Gyoza (steamed and fried pork dumplings or pot stickers) were also made from scratch and very flavorful!

For almost three years until I completed the CFA exams, the Korean couple literally fed me! They became like family to me. I would show up late just before they closed at 10:00 pm. The husband would fire up the grill and cook my favorite "Spicy Chicken" and I would get a generous helping of Kimchee and Miso Soup! The meal was often enough to last for two days!

Cabbage: I know it is good to eat vegetables raw but sometimes it is a bit too much for one's stomach to digest and can result in gas. I know that raw Cabbage both green and red is really good and has medicinal properties; however, it is hard to eat raw cabbage. The options for preparing cabbage are boiling, steaming, stir fry, coleslaw (salad), or pickled such as Kimchee or Sauerkraut (a German delicacy).

Coleslaw: I love Coleslaw (raw cabbage, carrots, apple, fennel, onions or scallion with a creamy and vinegary mayonnaise dressing) but I don't like the calories. One can always make a lower calorie version with less mayonnaise and more Dijon Mustard.

Sauerkraut: I also love Sauerkraut which is another form of preserving cabbage. One can also make Sauerkraut from scratch using a lacto-fermentation process that involves the cultivation of beneficial bacteria. If you don't do it properly and it does not go well it can be bad for you.

Making Kimchee: I particularly love Kimchee because it involves the use of vinegar and one can get the Kimchee flavor without the fermentation process! Now when I crave Kimchee, I no longer go to my favorite Korean restaurant for my fill of the spicy Kimchee because I have learned how to make Kimchee from scratch.

I use fresh Red Thai Chiles in my Kimchee. I purchase the Thai Chiles from an Asian Food store and I freeze the fresh Thai Chiles for use as needed. Thai Chiles also have medicinal properties.

I don't ferment the Kimchee that I make at home because I don't want to risk breeding bacteria. I make a fresh batch and put it in glass bottles (such as "Mason Jars"*) with tight lids and place the Kimchee in the fridge immediately. The next day -- my homemade Kimchee is ready to enjoy with grilled chicken, turkey or fish.

All of the ingredients used for making Kimchee have beneficial medicinal properties that is why it is so good for you. (Please note that I use Turmeric and Cardamom in my food because of their medicinal properties. You can omit these spices, if you don't have them but you should consider adding beneficial spices and herbs to your food.)

Here is the recipe for homemade Kimchee:

1 medium Cabbage or "Napa or Chinese Cabbage" (cut lengthwise in four and julienned)
(Other Option: 2 medium Cucumbers cut into two and sliced)
(Optional: 2 medium or large Carrots peeled and juliiened)
1/2 medium Onion or 3 medium Green Onions or Scallions (sliced or julienned)
1/4 cup chopped or grated fresh Ginger
2 or 3 cloves Garlic (sliced or chopped)
1/2 cup Seasoned Rice Vinegar (or Apple Cider Vinegar)
2 teaspoons Sea Salt
5 to 10 Red Thai Chiles (chopped or blended -- quantity depends on your taste)
Few drops of Sesame Oil (optional and to taste)
4 to 6 pods green Cardamom (optional)
1 tablespoon Turmeric (optional)

Medium Glass or Ceramic Mixing Bowl
Small mixing bowl (optional)
Blender (optional)
Cutting board
Chef's knife
Sanitized Mason Jars (sanitize in boiling water and drain)

1. Place the Rice Vinegar, Sea Salt, Thai Chiles, Sesame Oil, and other spices in the small mixing bowl or blender and blend or mix.
2. Place the cabbage, ginger, garlic, onion or scallion and other vegetables in the large mixing bowl.
3. Pour the vinegar mixture over the vegetables and use a spoon to thoroughly coat the vegetables.
4. Add more salt to taste, if necessary.
5. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the vegetables rest for about one or two hours until slightly wilted.
6. Spoon the vegetable mix into the Mason Jars, cover with a tight lid, and place in the fridge.
7. The next day, you can enjoy your homemade Kimchee by itself as a snack or with grilled chicken, turkey or fish.

Please try my homemade Kimchee recipe and let me know how much you enjoyed it!


*Mason Jars: do not spend money purchasing "Mason Jars". Save glass bottles such as spaghetti and jam bottles and reuse. If you shop at "Trader Joe's", most of the glass bottles they use for products such their "Marinara" or spaghetti sauces are Mason Jars. Do not throw them out. You can reuse them for pickling and storing vegetables in the fridge or freezing vegetables, meat and fish.

Disclaimer: The statements regarding the nutritional and medicinal properties of the various foods have not not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These items are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please consult your own physician for guidance regarding your health and nutrition.

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