Kimchee Hai-Ya!

Today I decided to post something a little different…

Why Kimchee?

Because my friend Tara who has Multiple Sclerosis, recently told me how much she has benefitted by eating this calcium, protein, pro-biotic rich food.

Tara can no longer walk without assistance, she uses a cane or wheelchair for mobility.  When she said, “I use to be so addicted to sugar. And so tired all the time. Since I started eating kimchee I am less tired, don’t have sugar cravings and have even lost 16 pounds! And I am in much less pain with the MS.”

Her words fueled my curiosity, if kimchee helped her MS it must have some very good health benefits. I have eaten kimchee in Korean restaurants and really liked it, now I wanted to learn how to make it!

I have long heard about the positive affects of fermented foods for digestion and over all health – they are a staple in many Asian cultures. Kimchee is eaten by Koreans in their daily meals. Because many people from Asian countries do not have the enzymes people from other countries do for digesting lactose, they get those good intestinal bacteria through fermented foods, and….they have a practical way to preserve food that can be kept in jars or ceramic containers. They last a long time and taste delicious with rice or noodle dishes.

Avi, another friend’s son who lives in Fairfield, was our kimchee guru. Although only 29, he has acquired a vast knowledge through hands-on experience with wild foods and other eatables – in addition to the wide range of gardening and sustainable skills he already embodies. If you ever need to live off the land, you’d want someone like Avi around!

One recent night, my friend Radhika, Tara and me entered the mysterious world of kimchee with Avi as our guide – in the warm surroundings of his mom’s kitchen.

First Avi pulled out his pukka Japanese Super Blue Steel Knife, hardened to a 64 – a number that determines how well a knife holds its edge. “Harder steel can make a thinner edge” he said, “this knife is made like a Samurai sword.” I felt it’s fine crafted SHARP edge. Seemed like a fine Samurai chef’s knife to me. Watch those fingers!

Samurai Knife on left, on the right....whoa!

Samurai Knife on left, on the right….whoa!

He said, “When you cut through food using this, it breaks the suction so things don’t stick to the knife.”

Now that sounded like something I could use, considering how often I’ve had to wipe the edge of a knife off when preparing food. It was a temptation until I learned of the $300 price-tag. My Japanese $1.50 special I decided, suits my non-gourmet cooking style just fine.

Okay, so now we get down to business, knives ready, bowls out, food washed and on the counter ready for chopping! Hai-ya!

Washed then Ready to Chop-Chop

Washed then Ready to Chop-Chop

I asked about using anchovies, because vegetarians of course would not add fish. Avi said, “If you add dried anchovies (or you can substitute dried shrimp), it makes it calcium rich, you get the highest amount of calcium this way, much more than dairy, it also adds a lot of protein. You can leave it out of course, but if you eat fish, it’s a big plus and adds a nice flavor.”

First Avi soaked and peeled the garlic cloves. Then he took about 3 inches of ginger and put this is the grinder along with the garlic and chopped both into fine bits. The anchovies went into the mortar and pestle for hand-grinding.

Peeling Garlic

Peeling Garlic 

Carrots were cut into strips, Napa cabbage cut into thick about 4″ wide long sections, green onions with stems cut into strips or rings, red radish the same, radish leaves also chopped rough and big.

First the cabbage leaves were put in a large bowl and about 1/2 cup of salt was sprinkled on top, then Avi mixed the salt around to cover the leaves. After five to ten minutes Avi pushed the leaves down in the bowl, already the quantity had reduced its size, due to the water leaching from the cabbage leaves.

Radhika and I helped with chopping the vegetables until we were both disabled by nicking our fingers on the samurai knife! Blood was not a protein we wanted in the kimchee!

Fresh from the Garden

Fresh from the Garden

The rest of the vegetables were then thrown in, on top of that mix went the chopped anchovies, ginger and cloves bits, a spoonful of chili powder and more salt was added. All this was then mixed together creating an ideal environment for fermentation.


This mixture sat for a while (mostly due to our hanging around and chatting). Again it was pushed down and reduced in size as the water was released. A clear golden-red liquid revealed itself.

At that point, although not fermented yet, I tasted bits of the vegetables. Delicious! Avi seemed to have a knack for throwing things together without really measuring – eyes, sight and taste – the intuitive chef’s main tools!


Kimchee Guru Avi

We then put the vegetables into glass jars along with the liquid and left 2-3 inches of space at the top to allow for expansion.

Just About Finished!

Just About Finished!

We loosely put the lids on top to allow a little oxygen to enter. In about 2 days the lids would then be tightened.

Depending on the outside temperature, the kimchee should be ready to eat in about a week. Some people (like Tara) can’t wait and start eating it within a few days. It can sit out for six weeks continuing to brew and ferment, then must be kept in the fridge. The longer the food ferments, the more beneficial organisms thrive, and food value increases in available vitamins and proteins.

We actually had doubled the recipe and kept some in a crock pot to add to jars in a few days.

Kimchee – I felt like I was being introduced to an ancient, mysterious alchemical process – the deep, dark brewing of micro-organisms – transformation. The continuous flux and movement of all manifestation.

Before Fermentation, But Still Delicious!

Graced by Bounty – in the Form of Kimchee

 Avi’s Kimchee Ingredients

 1. 4 cups vegetables (mix of red radish including leaves or can replace with daikon),  carrots, spring or green onions, and/or beets can also be used.  Plus: one large cabbage, either Napa cabbage or white cabbage

2. 1/2 – 1 cup dried anchovies or dried shrimp (or leave out if vegetarian)

3. 2-3 inches ginger, cut or chopped in grinder into small pieces

4. 3-4 pieces garlic cloves, cut or chopped in grinder with ginger

4. 1/2 cup salt, more added as needed (do not use pink sulphur smelling salt)

5. 1/4 -1/2 chili powder (Korean red pepper chili powder is mild and works well)



About smallpebbles

A simple life unfolding moment by moment
This entry was posted in Fermentation, Just for Fun, Peace and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to Kimchee Hai-Ya!

  1. dadirri7 says:

    we make fresh lime pickle and sauerkraut, so now kim chee will join the fermented foods in the pantry .. cant wait to try, such an inspiring description!

  2. Hi, I had promised reporting on my trialling a No Salt KimChee
    so here is a quick one to this stage:
    KimChee entering on to its 10th day and looking as good as Gold.
    Myself though, am as sick as a dog –high temperatures and heavy lung bleeding
    and only on raw fruit – so i cannot try any until i have recovered sufficiently
    to take a risk.

    • smallpebbles says:

      Oh my dear, so so sorry that you are dealing with such physical challenges. I hope you are receiving loving support and are in a healing environment. And I wish you a quick recovery, and the blessed peace that always IS. Big hugs and love…..kai

      • Thank you for your kind wishes Kai.

        I am a fortunate loved and well cared old girl
        having survived many times over the expected time
        waiting at the airport like a tired wary traveller
        for my indefinitely delayed flight to my final destination.

        I intend, depending on how soon i recover, energy levels
        and motivation, to report in detail about the No Salt
        KimChee experiment – success or failure- together with some
        other old delicious tested Culinary Tips.

        Of course, i do not intend to clog the space of your Blog,
        i will do it on mine and alert you to it.
        It might take a while as it usually takes weeks to normalise
        and might be Spring by then , Lol!…
        Two more months of winter to go and lucky if i survive it
        luckier if i don’t!…

        Have a Great Day and Enjoy All things
        the Benevolent side of Life and Present allow for You

        (Tired) Tigress

        • smallpebbles says:

          Dear – thanks for your reply and will look forward to the results! It is perhaps more challenging when our bodies are doing whacky things to rest as Silence, to rest as the Love we all ARE. May you be filled with the light of your own Being and know all is well……xx

        • Thanks Kai,
          Last night i felt as if energy was turning to positive
          hopefully it will keep on the regaining side.
          Enjoy a great Day!

        • smallpebbles says:

          Good to hear – this body has been healing too from a big whack on the ribs….also some shift finally…….and what is is…..xx

        • Oow…and the pain!… and it takes time…
          Hope there is no crack.
          Been there, started with leaning on chair sideways, bruised a rib, next time a light pressure made a crack then a sudden cough -with these lungs- resulted in a fracture followed by another within few months, both within last year and each one more painful and taking longer to heal.
          Take good – good care to facilitate complete healing.
          You could fortify it with some good Calcium such as the best bio-available form of *Calcium Hydroxyapatite* if lucky to find available in health-food stores in your area.
          Good to hear there is a shift…
          Here is a wish to a better Day!

        • smallpebbles says:

          thanks so much for the feedback! Well, since I did not have an x-ray not sure the condition, just bruised or perhaps a fracture. I reached over from the driver seat down to the floor of the passenger side of our van, not realizing the arm-rest was in the way. And then, stupidly I did it again. It really does not take much to bruise that area of the body. I have been doing some bentonite clay packs and now as it seems better, castor oil and hot water bottle. But thanks for the reminder that it takes long to heal (am already antsy for some good exercise, only managed a short walk so far) and will look into the calcium! Really all is well, but most grateful Tigress for your kind words.

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  4. Oh it sounds so exciting and compelling the way you present it and i have been quite curious about it, for a while. I used to like Tempeh made of fermented soy beans but cannot eat it any more and cannot have any salt not a single grain of it either, so i was tempted this morning to trialling a small jar that might possibly go to waste, using a different technique out of pure intuitive impulse that done this way may work, – and see what happens…
    If it succeeds and i do not die, lol!… – you will know if i have stopped posting in my blog- i will report next week so that others that salt or vinegar and spices are prohibited in their diet can enjoy it. For the moment though i would not hold my breath…

    • smallpebbles says:

      Wow! How lovely! Will look forward to the report! And thanks so much for your feedback, now you have stirred my curiosity! I certainly hope the affects of your experiment are positive!! shanti……

      • Thanks, i am curious too for the result.
        I will report in a week unless earlier good or bad signs.
        I used to make my own yoghurt and several varieties of commercial yeast free wholemeal breads -absolutely delicious pieces of work and all without need for kneading or punching – like clean mess-less hands- and now another forbidden area of delicacies for me, so i pin my hopes on this great and promising looking jar, lol!

        I look at it every ten minutes, lol!…who knows attention might give it an incentive to work faster 🙂 🙂

        • smallpebbles says:

          So instead of watching the “pot boil” you are watching for fermentation! Good luck with this, do hope it is something that will work for your body! I don’t know exactly what limitations you have, but it just came to me, raw garlic… rid of amoebas and giardia here, but also good for soooo many things. Check it out, can be taken like pills followed by glass of water to eliminate the smell! xx

        • Lol! Thanks, but Only a Nuclear button could eliminate the problems i have and limitations created. I have tried garlic raw taken orally in empty stomach before breakfast as supposed to kill worms in the intestines as i remember very effective during my childhood times, as well as using it a suppository directly into into the lower eliminative part and highly absorbable but though it does work against worms and a number of other parasites it does nothing for Malassezia yeast – the tormentor of my life… creating more havoc than the Atypical TB killing my Lungs.
          I am glad you mentioned it though because i give it to my man during weekends in his dinner and can add it to the list of fermented together with ginger if this one works. Looks Ok, nice and clear today as well, with some small water bubbles formed at the top and some a bit further down, so i believe thats a good sign and the fermentation process has started.
          Thanks anyway and i will keep in touch

        • smallpebbles says:

          Okay Dear One…….so sorry you are dealing with such physical challenges. I say sorry, and yet, we never know what may be the catalyst for deep inner peace and radiant joy. I just met a woman who has been bed-ridden with MS for many years. She only has use of her head, she gets on the internet, emails, supports many causes – and she radiates immense happiness and joy! So who can say, but of course, I wish that you find ease in dealing with your health issues. And do keep me updated with the fermentation! Blessings!

  5. grannyandthebaldguy says:

    i am going to look into this and Ty for sharing.

  6. lauriesnotes says:

    delicious. My husband is the cook in the family. I admire the art of cooking – though I will need much practice. My daughter is encouraging. 🙂 She is quickly passing up my skills. She is a self proclaimed vegetarian herself.
    Love –

  7. Jayde-Ashe says:

    Yum! I absolutely adore Kimchi but haven’t had it for a few years because there is no Korean restaurant/supermarket in my town 😦 However thanks to your inspiration I am going to have a go at making it at home! It looks so delicious my mouth is watering.

    • smallpebbles says:

      Yeah, good stuff, remarkable! Be careful which kind of chili you use, it will get less hot as it ferments (or so I was told). But you don’t want to burn your tongue!! …..xx

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