19 Jun 2017
1 min read
Continuing with our focus on probiotics, this week too I will be talking about fermented food. We here in Nepal are well acquainted with plenty of fermented achars, and I thought of jazzing things up by drawing your attention to an item that has made it to many lists of the ‘World’s Best Foods’: Kimchi.
- Touted as the national food of Korea, this low-cal condiment is packed with nutrients like Vitamins A and C, which help our bodies absorb essential minerals from our diet.
- In addition to these benefits, kimchi is also known to:
Be good for the gut: The fermentation process involved while preparing kimchi results in the creation of beneficial bacteria, which help maintain a good digestive system. This fibre-rich food supports bowel movements and prevents constipation.
Stimulate immunity: Research has shown that the ingredients (listed in the table) used in kimchi help improve one’s immune system. Garlic, also one of the ingredients, is known to control cholesterol level.
I consulted the head and sous chefs of Villa Everest (Shangri-La) Restaurant, Thamel, Babu Ram Ramsal and Rajan Dhungana, to find out more about the process of making kimchi, so you can make kimchi at home.
With all the benefits that this powerfood provides, there is no reason not to, right?
Traditionally, kimchi is made with Napa (Chinese) cabbage, and in recent times, it has undergone an array of variations. The chefs have figured out how to ‘Nepalify’ kimchi. And this is how you do it:
- Start by making a layer of rye saag. In a large bowl, place your first layer of saag (with its ends cut off). Sprinkle with salt. Continue with the next layers.
- Let the saag soak in the salt for at least two to three hours. But make sure that it does not get too soggy. Ramsal advises that you check on the saag-salt layers every now and then, and then mix them up and set aside.
- While you wait, chop the onions and the green onions. And then go on to make the following pastes:
- Cook about a cup (depends on the quantity of saag) of flour in boiling water to make a paste, or blend your leftover cooked rice and mix it with hot water until it forms into a paste.
Capsicum/Korean chilli powder
- Deseed the capsicums/Korean chilli and mince them in a meat mincer/keema machine.
- Deseed the dry red chillies and boil them with about a tablespoon of sugar. This is to dilute the spiciness of the chilli since kimchi is not supposed to be too hot for the palate. After that, blend the chillies.
- Add the minced red capsicums/Korean chilli to the blended red chilli. Add water to the mix to make a paste, if needed.
TIP: You can do this or simply buy Gochugaru powder and add water to it to form a paste.
- To this final chilli paste, add sugar, ground garlic and the flour/rice paste. The chefs advise that you add ground ginger only later to suit your taste, as too much of it can make the kimchi bitter.
- Once the saag is soft enough, wash the salt off and dry them completely.
- Combine the paste, saag, chopped onions and green onion leaves. Your kimchi is ready! You can have it immediately or store it in an airtight container for upto a week. The more you store it, the tangier the taste becomes.
- How to know if your kimchi is ideal to serve? “As with any other food, trust your taste buds,’ says Dhungana. “When tasting your homemade kimchi, you need to ensure that it is not too bitter/sweet/sour for your own taste.”
Dhungana suggests adding a mashed banana or apple to the paste. “This will enhance the overall taste of your homemade kimchi,” he says.
You can choose to completely forgo the fish sauce, or you can opt to use seaweed-pear (naspati) clear soup. Villa Everest is the pioneer among Korean restaurants in Kathmandu to make their kimchi with this ingredient.
Napa (Chinese Cabbage)
Gochugaru/Korean red chilli powder (not readymade paste)
Green onion leaves
'Korean Chilli' (as it is called in the local markets) or red capsicum and dry red chillies
Green onion leaves