What Is Kimchi?

Kimchi is sometimes spelled “kimchee”, but I prefer the “chi” spelling because that is the spelling of the oriental word chi (gi, ki) that means “natural energy” or “vital force”. Of the countless varieties of kim chi that are made in Korea, by far the most common version is the one made with Chinese (wong bok) cabbage. Kimchi that is made with cabbage is loaded with indole-3-carbinol (I3C), a compound that is well recognized as a powerful cancer-fighting compound. Numerous studies indicate that I3C can offer protection against many different types of cancer and may even stop the growth of existing tumors.

I also learned about Kimchi when I was a student and completed a Cooking For Health course at the Australian College Of Natural Medicine in Brisbane (Australia) many years ago. A great thing about this dish, like all fermented foods is that it keeps for many, many weeks in your refrigerator, yet still tastes fresh. The garlic and vinegar are natural preservatives that keep the raw vegetables and fruits tasting great for a long time. If you have one of those “keep warm” crock or hotpots in your kitchen, then a wholesome snack or even a full meal, is not far away. Kimchi is like sauerkraut, it is not only a health food, it can be regarded as a convenience food, and both of these foods can be served cold, warm or hot. An important point to bear in mind is that kimchi must be fermented properly.

Cabbage and Onions

In my opinion, two of the best ingredients to ferment for promoting beneficial bacteria in your digestive system and inhibiting the unfriendly bacteria are cabbage and onions. There is no doubt, fermented cabbage is the absolute best. Once the cabbage soaked in vinegar has had a chance to age (a day or two in the refrigerator, a few hours at room temperature), the cabbage ferments and produces the nutrients that the beneficial lacto bacteria thrive on.

Chinese_CabbageWhen you make kimchi, be sure to use Chinese cabbage, which is one of the most common Asian vegetables found in Australia and New Zealand and is also known as Peking cabbage, Napa cabbage, or ‘Wong bok’. It has an elongated head with tightly packed crinkly pale green leaves. Unlike the strong-flavored waxy leaves on round heads of cabbage, these are thin, crisp and delicately mild.

cabbage_1When you make sauerkraut, use the normal round green cabbage. It has a stronger and sharper taste and suits sauerkraut better. This cabbage is a bit harder to slice because the leaves are more densely packed so be sure to use a sharp serrated knife.
Cabbage is also a known cure for ulcers. I once placed a male patient with advanced ulcers on a diet rich in kimchi, sauerkraut, plain steamed vegetables, fish and rice. He did not have a helicobacter pylori stomach infection. In about 12 weeks, the ulcers that had resisted years of medical treatment were completely healed, I know this to be true because the patient had this confirmed by way of endoscopy. If you eat foods like sauerkraut and kimchi, you may well heal all manner of chronic digestive complaints which have been unresponsive to conventional drug treatments. What have you got to lose?

Kimchi recipe

To make healthy kim chi that still has lots of flavor and health-promoting compounds, start with a whole head of fresh wong bok cabbage:


  • One Wong bok cabbage – about 500gr (one pound)
  • Himalayan salt
  • Water
  • Fine red chili flakes (Asian shop)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 3-4 spring onions (scallions), sliced
  • 2 tablespoons anchovy or fish sauce (optional)
  • 1/2 brown onion
  • 1/2 ripe apple
  • 1/2 ripe pear


  1. Separate cabbage leaves and chop into bite-size pieces.
  2. Dissolve a quarter cup of Himalayan salt in a bowl of warm water, then pour salt water over cabbage leaves. Give cabbage a gentle toss to distribute salt water. Allow salted cabbage to sit for at least four hours.
  3. Give cabbage a good rinse to remove excess salt, then transfer cabbage to a large bowl.
  4. Combine a quarter cup of fine red chili flakes with warm water, stir gently with a spoon to create a red chili paste, then transfer chili paste to cabbage.
  5. Add minced garlic, minced ginger, spring onions (scallions), and fish sauce.
  6. Blend brown onion, apple, and pear with one cup of water, then add this natural sweetener to the cabbage.
  7. Give everything a thorough toss and good rubdown. You want to evenly distribute all ingredients, especially the red chili paste.
  8. Transfer seasoned cabbage leaves into a large glass bottle (which you have cleaned previously with very hot water). Be sure to use firm pressure with your hands to push down on cabbage leaves as they stack up inside the bottle.
  9. Transfer any liquid that accumulated during the mixing process into the bottle as well – this liquid will become the Kim chi brine. Some liquid will also come out of the cabbage leaves as you press down on them as they are stacked in the bottle.
  10. Be sure to leave about 50ml (2 inches) of room at the top of the bottle before capping it tightly with a lid. Allow bottle of kim chi to sit at room temperature for 24 hours.
  11. Your kim chi is now ready to eat. Refrigerate and take out portions as needed. The refrigerated Kim chi will continue to ferment slowly in the refrigerator over time. So long as you use clean utensils to take out small portions, it will keep for up to a month or even longer in your refrigerator.

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