Some of the superfoods making news this year are those that are fermented and cultured. They provide healthy bacteria and enzymes that protect our digestive systems from intestinal leakage and inflammation that can lead to obesity and disease and help strengthen our immune systems. Kimchi is probably one of the most popular fermented foods. To learn more about the health benefits, read Kimchi: The Next Superfood.

Kimchi is a spicy Korean condiment similar to sauerkraut but spicier and is usually made with more veggies than just cabbage. Kimchi is delicious added to your salads, sandwiches or on the side of any dish. You can find kimchi in jars for sale at the store but it’s easy to learn How to Make Kimchi at Home. Here are 5 tips to help you make this delicious dish.

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1. Prep Everything in Advance

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The first thing you have to do is decide what veggies you want in your kimchi. It can be as simple as just cabbage (usually napa cabbage) or you can add other veggies such as red peppers, onions, scallions and carrots. You will also need fresh garlic and ginger as well as salt, sugar, and spices such as red pepper flakes and whatever spices you like. You will also need mason jars where the kimchi will ferment.

Once you have all the ingredients, clean the veggies and prep them. Remove the core of the cabbage and cut the cabbage into strips. Let the cabbage drain in a colander for about 15 minutes. You can add salt to it if you want to help it drain. Cut any other veggies you are using into strips of similar size to the cabbage.

2. Make a Flavorful Paste

Fish-Sauce

The kimchi paste is a combination of garlic, ginger, onion, sugar and spices. You can also add red chili paste, gochugaru, and Korean chili flakes. Traditionally, fish sauce or anchovy sauce is used but you can add kelp flakes or Vegan “Fish” Sauce instead. Combine all the ingredients in a food processor, blender or mix in a bowl until you have a smooth paste. Add water if needed until you have the consistency you want.

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3. Mix It All Together

Kimchi Kale Salad [Vegan, Gluten-Free]

Mix the cabbage and veggies with the paste. Massage the veggies well until they are evenly coated with the paste. It’s a good idea to wear gloves to protect your hands.

4. Pack the Jars

Julia Frost/Flickr

Julia Frost/Flickr

Add the kimchi to the jar. It’s important to pack it tightly to prevent spoilage. The brine should cover the veggies. Leave one inch of space at the top of the jar to allow room for expansion while the fermentation happens.

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5. Fermentation

KoreanKimchiBBQBurger_credit-Annie-Shannon

Once the mixture is packed into the jar, seal it tightly and leave it at room temperature to ferment for 1 to 5 days. You will see bubbles inside the jar and brine may seep out of the lid. Just place a plate under the jar to catch any liquid. Check it daily by pressing down on the veggies with a spoon and pushing them back under the brine. When the kimchi tastes rips, put the jar in the fridge.

After you make your kimchi, enjoy it by adding it to your meals. Top it on a burger made with Korean BBQ sauce like these Simple Korean Kimchi BBQ Burgers or add it to a salad like this Kimchi Kale Salad.

Lead Image Photo: cyclotourist/Flickr