By Jan Bilton
Fermented foods are increasing in popularity and availability — all in the name of good health. They can aid digestion and help with other health issues.
Historically foods were fermented as a way of preserving them. Microorganisms convert starches and sugar into alcohol or acids and these enhance the natural, beneficial probiotic bacteria in food.
Kimchi — a Korean staple — is a traditional side dish made from salted and fermented vegetables including cabbage. Spicier than German sauerkraut, kimchi contains vitamins A, B1, B2 and C and the minerals iron, calcium and selenium.
Add julienned carrot if preferred or combine a mix of red and green cabbage.
1/2 large Savoy cabbage
4 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons each: finely grated root ginger, fish sauce, gochujang (Korean chilli paste)
4 each: spring onions, round radishes, thinly sliced
Remove any thick core from the cabbage. Chop the leaves into 3cm pieces and place in a large ceramic bowl. Sprinkle with the salt and mix it in with your hands. Stand for 1 hour or until softened. Press down and cover with cold water. Stand for 2 hours.
Drain and rinse under cold water. Drain thoroughly squeezing out any excess water.
Make a paste by mixing the sugar, garlic, ginger, fish sauce and gochujang. Combine with the cabbage, spring onions and radishes, mixing well. Place in a large plastic or ceramic bowl. Sit a plate on top of it and cover loosely so air can escape during fermentation.
Allow to ferment for a week or two in a coolish place. Pack into airtight glass containers and store in the fridge.
Serve with cheese on crackers, as a salad or side dish, add to rice dishes or pat dry and deep-fry briefly. Makes about 2 1/2 cups.
- Jan Bilton is a Cambridge-based, professional food writer. For more of her fermented food recipes visit her website here.