Kimchi was one of the foods that I thought I would miss once I began AIP. It was one of the first Korean foods that I tried and enjoyed. When dining out at Korean restaurants, it was such a treat to be presented with the various ‘banchan‘ and usually a variety of kimchi would be included. My whole family loves kimchi and we would usually get seconds or even thirds during the course of the meal!
The ingredient that makes kimchi typically spicy is known as ‘gochugaru’ or Korean red chilli pepper flakes. Red chilli peppers are not AIP-compliant as they are nightshades, containing capsaicin which can irritate the gut. Before starting AIP I was a real chilli fiend and loved spicy condiments and dishes! Spicy kimchi appealed to me partly because of its chilli content! When I moved to Quebec City, I started making my own kimchi and was happy to accompany meals with it. Noodles, rice, you name it. Now all those foods are a thing of the past with the AIP.
Then I started getting into home ferments and went about brewing kombucha and water kefir. Ferments made me think of kimchi, and I discovered that a non-spicy version of the popular and spicy kimchi existed, and that it was known as baek kimchi, or white kimchi. I was elated! Kimchi was making a comeback into my life. Don’t let the lack of spice fool you into thinking that it’s mild and bland! After fermenting for a couple of days, it develops a really irresistible tangy taste and makes a refreshing counterpart to heavier dishes such as barbequed meats.
Here’s my version of baek kimchi made with persimmons instead of Asian pears. If possible, used paleo-friendly fish sauce (without sugar), or coconut aminos for added complexity in the kimchi. I decided to go along with the fish sauce I had, which contains sugar, as I figured that the amount of fish sauce used was relatively small and that the ferment would take care of the sugar.
I find that making your own kimchi is not particularly complicated. You’ll need a good sharp knife in order to prep all the vegetables, definitely. Even the quantities of vegetables used are subjective to your own taste buds.
It may seem time-consuming to make kimchi, but the end results are so worth it! Have you tried kimchi or made your own before?
Ingredients (makes 2L/ 2 quarts)
- 1 3lb/ 1.4kg Napa cabbage
- 8 cups filtered water
- 1/2 cup sea salt
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp ginger, finely grated
- 1 persimmon/sharon fruit/kaki fuyu, peeled and chopped
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 6 tbsp fish sauce (or coconut aminos)
- 1 cup breakfast radish, cut into matchsticks
- 1 persimmon, peeled and diced
- 1/2 cucumber, seeds removed, quartered and thinly sliced
- 1 spring onion, sliced into thin diagonal strips
- 1/4 cup or 12 red dates, pitted and thinly sliced (Optional, or try dried dates if red dates are unavailable)
- 1 carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
- 1 large colander
- 1 large basin
- Hand held immersion blender or blender
- 1 large bowl
Prep: Salting the cabbage
- Wash cabbage and remove outer leaves
- Halve cabbage lengthwise and make a V cut at the base, removing the core of each half
- Chop cabbage into big bite size pieces (cabbage will wilt and shrink after salting, by making the pieces slightly larger they will be comfortably bite sized when kimchi is completed)
- In a large basin, dissolve sea salt in filtered water and soak chopped cabbage
- Turn/ toss cabbage pieces every 30 minutes for 1.5 hours total
- Drain cabbage in colander and rinse thoroughly (3x)
- Taste a piece (If too salty, rinse again)
- Set aside drained cabbage in colander
Making the kimchi seasoning paste (The fragrant part!)
- Place garlic, ginger, persimmon, onion, and fish sauce/ coconut aminos into a bowl and blend into a paste with a hand held immersion blender (or blend everything up in a blender)
- Add in chopped ingredients – breakfast radishes, persimmon, cucumber, spring onion, red dates, carrot
- Stir to mix well
Putting it all together
- Put drained cabbage into large basin
- Add in kimchi seasoning paste
- Mix cabbage and kimchi paste together until cabbage is well coated and incorporated with the paste
- Scoop prepared kimchi into clean airtight containers, be sure to press out any air bubbles
- Place a tray under the containers of kimchi and leave to ferment in a cool, dark, dry area for 1 – 3 days (open to check on fermentation progress – may start smelling sourish or small bubbles may appear)
- Move to fridge and let it continue fermenting slowly
- Enjoy! Kimchi can be consumed immediately after prep as well (without fermentation).
Recipe inspired by Maangchi