Vegan Kimchi!

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I love ethnic food, especially spicy, exotic, super flavorful things. We have a Korean restaurant, Stone Korean, in a nearby town and I just love to go have their Kimchi Tofu Soup. Their kimchi is vegetarian so I didn’t realize that a lot of kimchi has shrimp in it until I started to buy it at the Asian market and wondered why some kimchi was marked vegan and others weren’t.

So I thought maybe I’d try to make it myself. During my recent trip to New York City for the Main Street Vegan Academy, we made a trip to Dual Spices in Manhattan, a treasure trove of spices from all over the world. I thought my head would explode, I was so amazed at all the wonderful things available! I walked aisle by aisle checking things out and took the opportunity to pick up some spices and things I don’t easily find at home. One of the things I picked up was a big packet of Korean chili flake in anticipation of making kimchi.

Ironically enough, my neighbor, who’d just joined my Vegan and Whole Food Plant Based Canning group on Facebook asked me when I got home if I knew how to can kimchi, as she and her husband love it and buy it every week. I showed her the spices I’d just picked up, explained how we can just ferment it in the canning jars and not preserve them by canning, and decided to make some! I did some research online and settled on the Minimalist Baker’s Easy Vegan Kimchi recipe as I love her recipes and she’s a hometown girl from Portland, Oregon. If you want the recipe and directions, click on the link to her blog.

We used bok choy and chard in our kimchi because that’s what we had on hand. You can really use any vegetable from the cabbage family, I think. Actually, at the Korean restaurant they put out a whole bunch of little pickle dishes, called banchan, on the table with your meal and one of my favorites is the pickled cucumber banchan with the same chili flake, so I think you could use cucumber and other veggies too.

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Here are our assembled ingredients. Interestingly enough, I had most of the ingredients already on hand, so pretty simple to prepare for. The recipe called for canned pineapple juice and being our first time making this we picked that up and followed that, but I think next time I’ll use fresh pineapple and juice it myself and see how that does. Dana didn’t note why the recipe called specifically for canned juice. Note, we doubled the recipe as there were three of us making it together and we wanted enough for each of us.

Here are the veggies all mixed up with the chili mix, so gorgeous! We chopped the bok choy and chard in to bite-sized pieces because none of us are fans of pulling giant pieces of kimchi out of jars and splattering the sauce everywhere in the process!

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Then we packed it into quart canning jars and took it to our respective homes to ferment into hopefully, yummy goodness!

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So after 72 hours fermenting (I was out of town for a couple of days so it stayed in the dark pantry a little longer than the recipe suggested, but I didn’t think it would hurt it, which it didn’t) I moved it into the refrigerator as directed and let it ferment in there another week.

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I just tried it today and it is amazing–no, TRIMAZING! It has the perfect texture, is garlicy, perfect amount of spice, and tangy with a little lemony taste to it. I’m actually glad Alan doesn’t like pickled things so I don’t have to share! The bite-sized pieces are great, could probably stand to be a little bit bigger as they shrank during fermentation. I love the carrot and green onion in it and really love the pop of green the chard gives.

Thank you, Minimalist Baker, for such a fantastic recipe! We will be making this for a long time! I’ll have to find more Korean chili flake….time to go explore the spice shops and Korean markets in Seattle!

I also need to learn how to make the soft tofu they make at my Korean restaurant in order to make my favorite soup. Stay tuned for that adventure!

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