Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Kimchi—The Where

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Okay, so now we all know how to make our own kimchee…

But how many of us actually have time, especially during this crazy holiday season, to actually make our own kimchee.

Sure you could just go to Walmart and order whatever kimchee they happen to have in stock…

Or even take advantage of the convenience of online grocery delivery services such as Instacart…

But if you want to make the best Korean food, you would be better off ordering from an authentic Korean website that carries authentic Korean brands and products—not only kimchee and other cooking spices and ingredients—but also Korean fashion, cosmetics, and clothes.

Here are a few Korean online stores where you find Korean stuff…

Just in time for last-minute Christmas shopping.

  1. 11 Street
  2. Amazon
  3. H Mart
  4. http://www.koamart.com/kimchipickledrefrigerated-foods-c-60.html?uid=fq3skf8kmeg6isg8u7n3citt80
  5. Koamart
  6. Korean Mall
  7. SF Mart
  8. The Mala Market

(Disclaimer…Honestly when I first began writing this post I intended to do much more than make such a simple list and find our that I have been spelling the word “kimchee” wrong all along…but this will come in handy in future posts, so be patient.)

 

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Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Kimchee—The Why

But perhaps the biggest advantage of adding kimchee to your diet is the fact that is has been fermented.

Fermenting foods involves converting a carbohydrate into an acid or an alcohol, Food that has been fermented has a high content of lactobacilli, “good” bacteria also known as probiotics.

Probiotics are important to our overall health in many ways, including…

Health benefits of fermentation include…

  • helping you lose weight by helping to control your appetite
  • keeping our digestive systems healthy
  • preventing stomach ulcers
  • preventing yeast infections
  • reducing inflammation
  • reducing your blood sugar levels 
  • treating various skin conditions

Kimchee and Vitamins/Minerals

Kimchi is a rich source of vitamins and minerals.

Not only does kimchee provide over 50% RDA of vitamin C, kimchee is also rich in vitamin A, vitamins B1 and B2, calcium, and iron.

The vitamins and minerals in vitamin C specifically help with anti-aging, increasing longevity, lowering bad LDL cholesterol levels, preventing plaque buildup in the artery walls, helping your immune system, and reducing the risk of cardiac disorders—such as atherosclerosis, heart attack, or stroke.

Kimchee and Fiber…The high concentration of dietary fiber found in kimchee can help by…

  • cleaning out the intestines
  • helping to lower their body fat and body mass index
  • helping to prevent a drop in blood sugar
  • keeping you satisfied and full for a more extended period
  • lowering your chance of developing metabolic syndrome.
  • preventing constipation
  • promoting digestion
  • slowing down carbohydrate metabolism 
  • stimulating the body to absorb nutrients better

Kimchee and Antioxidants…The antioxidants found in kimchee protect your body against harmful free radicals and oxidative stress. These antioxidants also hel give you better looking and stronger hair and nails.

But enough about the health benefits of kimchee, let’s move on the more fun and functional stuff—like how to make our own, where to buy our own, and what to do with it once we do buy or make it…

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Kimchee-The What?

Forget cigarettes…Give me kimchee.

Forget making cookies in the weeks before Christmas…Let’s all make kimchee.

Forget quilting bees and craft nights…Let’s all get together to make kimchee.

Forget cheese…We want kimchee.

Supposedly this can all be said of the Korean nation, where the average person consumes about fotty pounds of kimchee per year. To put that in better perspective, that’s more than the typical American consumes of coffee or cocoa or nuts. cheese, eggs, shellfish, or fish.

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Why even bring up the topic of kimchee at this point?

Because we’re talking about cabbage and refrigeration, and I always seem to have at least one jar of kimchee in my fridge at all times…and found some yesterday as I was cleaning out my fridge.

So what exactly is kimchee?

Kimchee, the traditional Korean dish, is a condiment of salted and fermented vegetables such as napa cabbage and daikon radish, sices such as chili powder and ginger, and salted seafood.

Kimchee, the national dish of both North and South Korea, is do revered by Koreans that during the Vietnam War, negotiations were made by the Korean and American government to ensure that kimchee was available to the Korean troops.

Koreans have been eating kimchee in some sort of fashion way back since 37 BC.

During this timeframe Buddhism, and the related vegetarian lifestyle, became important factors in the Korean lifestyle.

These ancient Koreans were highly skilled in the art of fermenting and pickling  vegetables in order to help preserve the lifespan of certain foods.

Koreans can, and do, actually make kimchee out of anything edible.

This fact leads to infinite possibilities and preferences depending on what region you may be and what season it is and what ingredients you have close at hand.

In fact, today there are over 180 recognized varieties of kimchee available.

The most typical type of kimchee available today is “mak kimchi,” or simple kimchee…a type of kimchee typically made with cut cabbage, radish, and scallions and a seasoned paste of red pepper, garlic, ginger, sugar, and fish sauce, salted shrimp, or kelp powder.

More than 70% of the kimchee sold on the market today is mak kimchee.

But here are a few more ingredients to consider as you would like to make kimchee yourself…

Vegetables...Even though napa cabbage is the vegetable most commonly used to make modern versions of kimchee, the cabbage was only introduced to Korea at the end of 19th century.

Other vegetables used to make kimchee can include…

  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Mustard greens
  • Onions
  • Potatoes
  • Pumpkins
  • Radishes (Korean radishes, ponytail radishes, gegeol radishes, yeolmu radishes)
  • Scallions
  • Soybean sprouts
  • Spinach
  • Sugar beets
  • Sweet potato vines
  • Tomatoes

Spices…

Chili Pepper…Even though chili pepper is now the expected spice in kimchee, chili pepper was not used until much later than the early days of kimchee. In fact, chili peppers were introduced to the Korean people around the year 1614 by Portuguese traders.

Gochugaru, or red pepper powder…This spice gives kimchee its expected spicy flavor. You can find this spice in Korean grocery stores and online…and in different grades of coarseness and spiciness…more on this later…

Other spices used to make kimchee include garlic and ginger. Garlic wasn’t used as a spice to make kimchee until the early seventeenth century.

Fish…

The most common fish used to give kimchee its authentic flavor is saeujeot, Korean salted shrimp. These shrimp are very small and naturally fermented.

You can find these shrimp in the refrigerator case of Korean markets….more on this later.

Two more options as far as the “fishy” part of kimchee would be kelp powder and salted anchovies.

But First…

But before we go and buy the first jar of kimchee that we see and look at recipes for making our own kimchee and finding ways to kee it from rotting in the back of our fridge, let’s see why we should eat kimchee…and all fermented foods…in the first place.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Bok Choy—The Which?

So now that we have learned more about what bok choy actually is and why bok choy can be an important food for us, how do we know that we are choosing the best bok choy that we could possibly buy?First of all, bok choy should be found in the refrigerated section of the produce aisle because warm temperatures cause the leaves to wilt and negatively affect its flavor.

In fact, bok choy is one of the few vegetables that, even though available throughout the year, reaches its peak availability from the middle of winter through the beginning of spring.

Seems kind of obvious that we never want to purchase any type of produce that has wilted leaves, but what else should we look for when buying bok choy?

Leaves…The leaves of bok choy should be firm and brightly colored. Check the bok choy for any signs of browning, yellowing, and small holes.

Stems…The stems of bok choy should be moist and hardy.

Organic…Buying produce that is certified organic can greatly reduce the likelihood of exposure to contaminants such as pesticides and heavy metals. To make sure that you are buying organic produce, always look for the USDA organic logo.

Bok choy can stay fresh in the refrigerator for about one week if stored properly. Store bok choy in a plastic storage bag in the crisper section of your refrigerator.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Bok Choy…The What?!

Another leafy green vegetable that type 2 diabetics should consider adding to their diets is bok choy.

Bok choy has been cultivated in China for more than five thousand years and has played a large part not only in its cuisine, but also in traditional Chinese medicine.

Bok choy is a common ingredient in the foods cooked in the Philippines and Vietnam, even though most other countries rarely even use it as an ingredient, if at all.

Bok choy—sometimes referred to as white cabbage, mustard cabbage, celery cabbage, Chinese white cabbage, Chinese mustard, and white celery mustard—-is in fact a member of the cabbage family. In fact, the name “bok choy” is derived from the Cantonese words “bai cai,” which means “white cabbage.”

However, bok choy doesn’t look like a typical cabbage at all. Bok choy more closely resembles celery.

Nor does bok choy look like any other cruciferous vegetables—such as cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts—which form “heads” in their more mature plant stages.

Instead bok choy has smooth, dark green leaf blades that form a cluster similar to mustard greens or celery—resembling Romaine lettuce on top and a large celery on the bottom.

Even though we usually only envision the typical variety of bok choy found in local grocery stores, there are over twenty varieties of bok choy available.

A few of these varieties are…

  • Baby bok choy…a miniaturized version of bok choy that can often be found in Asian and Chinese supermarkets
  • Chinensis bok choy…do not form heads and have smooth, dark green leaf blades, much like mustard greens or celery
  • Choy sum…also known as “Chinese flowering cabbage,” has light green leaves and tiny yellow flowers, typically sold as trimmed leaves and stalks of choy sum instead of the whole plant, more expensive variety of bok choy
  • Mibuna Early, Canton, and Ching Chang—bok choy varieties that feature green spoon-shaped leaves and slightly flattened white stalks
  • Purple Hybrid—variety of bok choy with purple leaves
  • Shanghai Green and Green Boy—variety of bok choy that have stalks that are various shades of green

This leafy vegetable has a light, sweet flavor and a crispy, crunchy texture.

Bok choy is slowly becoming more and more popular here in American cuisine.

Bok choy can be used in many different ways—such as salads, soups and stir-fries.

So keep reading to learn what the nutritional benefits of bok choy are and for recipes to help you enjoy adding bok choy to your grocery list.