• Darby Cummings

Vegan Kimchi

Vegan Kimchi


Football season is upon us & as much as I admit I like the chips, dips, wings & beer, my go-to, reminiscent food for football watching is kimchi. Thanks to my longtime friend Jeff, whose family is from Korea, I was introduced to kimchi when we had gathered at his house for football one fateful Sunday. Jeff always has some delicious meets on the loose like short ribs or skirtsteak. His mother though... Wowzer! She made the fluffiest-sticky rice, the most buttery, warm out of the oven, chewy oatmeal chocolate chip cookie that she told me the day I met her, the secret was a mistake. She accidentally doubled the butter one time & they were such a hit, she kept on doing it that way. My favorite from that day was the tacos with kimchi. It was such a new experience of spicy & tart that was new to me & I loved it.

Over the years I’ve had so many great kimchi’s & it remains a staple in my kitchen. The one thing I wanted to change about either the store bought versions or traditional ingredients is the sugar content. I avoid sugar at all costs & sometimes sugar or corn syrup is one of the first ingredients. So I set out to make one without added sugar, I used an apple & sweet onion to add some natural occuring sugar to help aid in the fermenting process. Thanks to Jeff’s mom, I adapted this recipe from hers!

1 large Napa cabbage (2 pounds give or take)

1/4 cup sea salt or kosher salt

1 large daikon radish peeled & cut into matchsticks

6 large green onions trimmed & cut into one inch pieces

2 large rainbow carrots peeled & cut into thin circles

5 radishes trimmed & cut into thin half moons


5-6 garlic cloves

2 TBL grated ginger

1 small sweet onion

1 small sweet apple (pink lady is what I use)

6 TBL korean red pepper flakes

4 TBL gluten free tamari soy sauce

First, you want to cut off the root end of the cabbage & thoroughly wash each leaf. Slice lengthwise into quarters & with each quarter, then cut those into your idea of bite size pieces, from one to two inches wide. Place the pieces into a very large glass bowl, sprinkle with salt & massage in until a liquid begins to release, about 5 minutes.

Next you’ll want to peel, trim & cut the next four veggies. Feel free to add other veggies of choice like cauliflower & parsnips. I would avoid too many greens because the chlorophyll can be a bit too bitter once fermented. I like doing different shapes for each of the veggies to keep it interesting. Once you finish one veggie, add it to the cabbage bowl & massage it into the salty water you initially made. With each veggie, you’ll massage that one into the salty water & keep going until all veggies are added. Once all are in, massage for another five minutes once all are in to release any extra water.

Now we’re going to make the sauce with the use of a food processor with the blade already in place. Peel & trim your garlic, onion, apple (you can also leave the skin on the apple if you like the extra nutrients & fiber) & ginger. To peel ginger, the best way I’ve found how is by using a spoon & scrapping it off in short, assertive scrapes. Once peeled, grate it using a microplane or the smallest grate on your traditional grater. Add all of those to the food processor bowl compartment & then top with the Korean red pepper flakes & the gluten free tamari soy sauce. Cover tightly & puree until there isn’t any whole chunks of pepper or produce in there. Be aware that the Korean red pepper flakes might cause you to have clear sinuses or tears of joy, so be gentle when removing the lid & don’t breath in right away.

Add the sauce to the the glass bowl of cut veggies & mix together until well incorporated. I would either use plastic gloves to mix together or tongs, but don’t use bare hands with the Korean red pepper flakes, it could end up burning for days or weeks! Once it’s all mixed, you might need to add water & a tiny bit more salt to make sure that all the veggies are covered & under water. For every additional cup of water you use, add 1-teaspoon of salt to keep the mixture briney. Mix it up one more time & then it’s time for fermenting. Place something like a jar or mug on top of the veggies mixture to keep them submerged under water. Then cover with a clean cloth that’s breathable & store in a dark corner of your kitchen without direct sunlight. The room temperature should be between 60-70 degrees. Check the kimchi daily by washing your hands before you touch anything. You’re looking for white air bubbles at the surface & edges of your glass bowl. I’ve had some kimchi’s that have taken just four days & then other times that have taken a little over a week. I wouldn’t go for any longer than nine days, most should take about 5-7 days, depending on how fermented a flavor you enjoy. Taste daily, push it down daily, look for bubbles daily & if you see any black spots, it’s probably mold & should be discarded & tried again!

When done with the fermenting, I just put a lid on the bowl & store in the fridge. It should be eaten & enjoyed in the next three months. If you don’t have room to store it in a large bowl, try storing in smaller glass jars or containers. I recommend airtight lids for storing in the fridge for well keeping, but mostly because I had a roommate one time who hated the smell of kimchi & threw it out... Not cool man, not cool! Anyhow, enjoy.

*Recipe Notes*

Water- DO NOT use chlorinated water. Distilled, spring or well filtered water works.

Salt- DO NOT use iodized or caking agents added, sea or kosher salt is best. Kosher salt tends to have a saltier flavor, so you might want to use less if using this kind.

Glass only- DO NOT use metal or plastic, it can hurt the fermenting process.

GF tamari soy sauce- read the ingredients list because I have found some with sugar.

*Nutritional Bennies*

Fermented foods can enrich the nutrient content by helping the begining process of the breaking down of protein, fats & carbs, making them easier to digest.

Introduction of friendly bacteria or probiotics, meaning “for life,” into the digestive tract & gut flora contributing to nearly every part of your body.

Since half the body’s immune cells are in the intestines, it maintains immunity.

Manufactures B vitamins & fatty acids.

Produces anti-viral, fungal, tumor & cancer substances to help maintain health.

Prevents candita overgrowth.

Reduces inflammation & neutralizes endotoxins produced in the body.

Aids in stool elimination.

AND, so much more!!!

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