One of the most important rules about foraging edible plants is to respect nature and only pick what you can use.
What is Kimchi?
Kimchi consists of vegetables (usually napa cabbage) that are fermented with garlic, ginger, chili, salt and either fish or seafood sauce. Kimchi is the national dish of Korea, so ubiquitous that instead of saying cheese to take a photo Koreans say kimchi.
But kimchi isn’t for the timid because it’s raw fermented vegetables, which means it’s so pungently powerful it makes sriracha look like a child’s condiment.
Kimchi isn’t just one recipe, the recipe varies depending on what part of Korea you are from, what season it is made and every family has their own recipe and there is much debate over what belongs in kimchi.
While it’s most commonly fermented napa cabbage, cucumber, radish and other vegetables are commonly used. Kimchi is such serious business that in Seoul there is the Kimchi Field Museum in Seoul which has recorded nearly 200 different types of kimchi.
Vegetarians and vegans should know that most kimchi includes fish or shrimp sauce so you may want to ask ahead of time. If you want to make this recipe vegetarian you could add a bit of kelp powder, red miso paste or a mixture of seaweed and mushroom to give it umami flavour.
How to Make Kimchi
Originally used as a means to store vegetables for winter months it is traditionally kept in a jar underground for months. For the recipe below you can keep it out at room temperature but it will continue to ferment. To stop the fermentation process you need to put it in the fridge.
Uses for Kimchi
Kimchi is eaten at most meals in Korea; in fact on average Koreans each eat 40 pounds of it a year. Traditionally it’s eaten with white rice or noodles, but it can also be found in other soups and porridge recipes. In North America it’s also being used in many modern recipes. We loved it as a condiment on hot dogs and have seen it in pancakes, stir fry, paninis and of course Korean tacos.
Why You Should Eat Kimchi
Kimchi is considered a superfood. It’s low in calories high in fibre, minerals and vitamins A, B and C. Perhaps its greatest benefit is the presence of lactobacillus, this bacteria is found in yogurt and helps with digestion and a number of other ailments.
An Easy Ramp Kimchi Recipe – Ramp-Chi!
It’s easy to make kimchi at home in just a few days. The smell isn’t pleasant but it’s a normal part of the process. Do not put a top on the jar of kimchi, the fermentation process means the vegetables release gases and they need to escape, otherwise you’ll have a kimchi explosion.
- 1 lb ramps, cleaned and washed
- 4 Cloves garlic, grated
- 6 Tablespoons korean chili powder
- 3 Tablespoons sugar
- 3 Tablespoons kosher salt
- 2 Tablespoons good fish sauce
- 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 2 Teaspoons ginger, grated
- 1 Large head of napa cabbage, shredded
- 1 Small white daikon
- Mix everything together, crush vegetables with your hands and squeeze dressing into vegetables.
- Transfer to a large glass jar, leave at least 2 inches of space at the top.
- Pack down vegetables and place a small plate on top the place a ziploc bag filled with water as weight. Cover with cheesecloth, secure with large rubber band.
- Leave out at room temperature but not in the sunlight.
- Pack down vegetables daily leaving everything submerged for 3-5 days or until tangy.
- When desired flavour is achieved, mix, transfer to jar. It will last in fridge for up to one month.