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Recipe: Classic Kimchi

Courtesy of Pete Evans and Helen Padarin, The Gut Health Cookbook

Recipe from The Complete Gut Health Cookbook: Everything You Need to Know about the Gut and How to Improve Yours (Weldon Owen, 2017)  

(Makes one 1 1/2-quart jar)

Kimchi is the national dish of Korea and Koreans eat close to 20 kilograms of it per person each year. They say their good health and vigor comes from having this fermented superfood every day. There are regional and seasonal variations, but at its heart kimchi is very similar to its European cousin, sauerkraut. I am a huge fan of kimchi and enjoy it on the side with many Asian dishes; it also works well with eggs for breakfast and with burgers when mixed with homemade mayonnaise.


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  • ½ napa cabbage (about 1 3⁄ 4 pounds)
  • 1 yau choy (choy sum) or 1–2 bok choy,
  • cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, stalks and leaves,
  • finely chopped
  • 3 long red chiles, 2 seeded and finely
  • chopped, 1 halved lengthwise and seeded
  • 1 . teaspoons sea salt (or 3 teaspoons
  • if not using the vegetable starter
  • culture – see below)
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2-inch piece of ginger, cut into thin strips
  • 1–2 tablespoons Korean chile powder
  • (gochugaru) (see Note)
  • 2–3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • ½ packet vegetable starter culture* (optional)


You’ll need a 1-quart preserving jar with an airlock lid for this recipe. Wash the jar and all utensils in very hot soapy water, then run them through a hot rinse cycle in the dishwasher to sterilize.

Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage. Choose one, wash it well, and set aside. Cut the cabbage in half lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces, discarding the root end.

Combine the cabbage, choy sum, green onions, cilantro, and chopped and halved chilies in a large glass or stainless-steel bowl, sprinkle with the salt, and mix well.

Add the garlic, ginger, chili powder, and fish sauce. Mix well, cover, and set aside.

Dissolve the starter culture in filtered water according to the packet instructions (the amount of water will depend on the brand). Add to the vegetables and mix well. Fill the prepared jar with the vegetable mixture, pressing down well with a large spoon or potato masher to remove any air pockets. Leave 3/4 inch of room free at the top. The vegetables should be completely submerged in the liquid; add more filtered water if necessary.

Fold the clean cabbage leaf, place it on top of the cabbage mixture, and add a small glass weight (a shot glass is ideal) to keep everything submerged. Close the lid, then wrap a kitchen towel around the jar to block out the light.

Store in a dark place (e.g., a cooler) at 60–73°F for 8–15 days (add another 5 days if not using the starter culture).

Chill before eating. Once opened, the kimchi will last for up to 2 months in the fridge when kept submerged in the liquid. Unopened, it will keep for up to 9 months in the fridge.

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