Healthspan Blog

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Kimchi health benefits, risks, recipe

17th April 2006

Health Magazine ranks Kimchi one of the healthiest foods in the world. Kimchi has lots of vitamins and antioxidants, but kimchi also has “healthy bacteria called lactobacilli, found in fermented foods like kimchi and yogurt. This good bacteria helps with digestion, plus it seems to help stop and even prevent yeast infections, according to a recent study. And more good news: Some studies show fermented cabbage has compounds that may prevent the growth of cancer.”

However, I’ve also heard of studies that link kimchi with an increased risk of cancer. Like most foods, we never really know but if you eat only foods that most people think are healthy and not too much of any one food, you’re doing the best you can.

For me, kimchi was an acquired taste. I’ve lived in Korea for 5 years and have only recently started eating kimchi. Interestingly, it’s the same for Korean children. I remember my three-year-old niece crying after her father accidentally fed her some kimchi with rice (it is pretty spicy). As children get older, they become more tolerant of the spicy kimchi.

My favorite kimchi recipe is kimchi fried rice. To impress your friends you can try speaking the Korean, kimchi bokeumbap. I doubt I really need to give you the recipe for kimchi fried rice. Chop up some kimchi and other vegetables (I like carrots, onion, spring onion, garlic, and bell pepper) and fry. I fry until the rice on the bottom is brown and crispy but not burned. Of course you can also add meat or tofu. I like to top mine off with a fried egg, but Korean style would be either a raw egg or sunny side up egg.

3 Responses to “Kimchi health benefits, risks, recipe”

  1. Evelyn Says:

    i tried making kimchi with red pepper but then my kimchi didn’t turn out red just like what I bought from the grocery ! Please tell me if food coloring is really added to make it look palatable ? Thanks.

  2. Charles Says:

    1) You probably didn’t use enough red pepper (have you seen the fluid that comes in the jar? it’s like soup), or
    2) You didn’t remove enough of the water during the process (the fluid in the jar, the water, actually shouldn’t be there from the jarring/canning process – it should come out of the cabbage itself during fermentation/storage; the water from the cleaning/washing will only dilute the color).

    However, the color of the kimchi itself is not important; the fermentation process (which, I think, takes place faster with less water) is the most important part. I don’t actually think the kimchi manufacturers use food coloring (then again, these are Korean firms, so there’s no good way to tell :P)

    If you have Korean friends (which I assume you do), you can ask them (or better yet, their mothers and grandmothers if you can) for their methodology or just watch. My mom (I’m Korean) makes kimchi because we have a hard time trusting the manufactured kind (believe me, in my years of eating kimchi, I’ve pulled some weird things out of the jar, like dessicated caterpillars – which probably came with the cabbage and were missed by quality control – and the like), and hers is somewhat red (it’s gotten darker as she’s gotten better at making it) but still not quite as red as some of the manufactured brands. So don’t be too concerned – there are plenty of types of kimchi that aren’t actually red, and they’re all just as good for you (and probably as tasty, though that depends on your own palate).

  3. R. Mason Says:

    I’ve had an incredible craving for Kimchi as of late. I prefer it straight, cold, over a bowl of steamed white rice – preferably a Japanese / Korean brand of of short grain rice or other “sticky” rice.

    I’m not a fan of fried rice in general.