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How to make Tart London's homemade kimchi recipe

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 13/3/2019 Jemima Jones and Lucy Carr-Ellison
a hand holding a cup © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited

The importance of maintaining a healthy gut has been under the spotlight like never before, lately.

Scientists are starting to understand that the composition and abundance of the bacteria in our gut influence the wellbeing of our bodies beyond digestion, from our immune system to our skin and even our moods. It’s now understood, for example, that most of our serotonin — the hormone that makes you feel happy — is actually produced by bacteria in the gut, often in response to what we’ve eaten. Our lifestyles can help us enhance and maintain the right kinds of bacteria, which in turn deny the bad guys space.

Every individual’s gut bacteria is representative of that person’s experiences: the places they go, the people (and animals) they come in contact with and the things they eat. Perhaps we ought not to discourage our toddlers from shovelling earth (and earthworms!) into their mouths; studies have shown many allergies appear more prevalent among urban children in sanitised settings than in rural areas.

As adults, it’s easier to improve our gut health. Useful bacteria can be found mostly in fermented foods including live yoghurt, kimchi (a Korean staple of salted and fermented vegetables), some cheeses and miso. The second way of improving gut health is to eat food that is specifically for the good guys: prebiotics. We buy specially targeted rocket fuel prebiotics and add them to smoothies in the morning. We came up with so many recipe ideas for this column, from home-made cheeses to miso soup, but the one we’re most excited about is our kimchi.

a group of people sitting at a table with a plate of food: (Tart London) © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited (Tart London)

Makes 3-4 jars

2 Chinese cabbages

6 tbsp salt

80g ginger

30g garlic

150g nashi pear

80g spring onion, finely chopped

70g fish sauce

50g dry shrimps

19g dry Korean chillies

Method

Slice and wash the cabbages, sprinkle with salt and leave to sit for an hour. Gently rinse off the salt and pat dry. In a food processor, blitz the ginger, garlic, chillies and fish sauce before grating the pears and adding to the mix with the sliced spring onions. Massage the marinade well into the cabbage with your hands — make sure you wear gloves! Spoon the mixture into three or four Kilner jars, pressing it down so the juices rise, leaving a gap at the top before sealing. Leave to ferment at room temperature and check every day, letting out any gas and pressing the vegetables down. When you’re happy with the sourness, pop it in the fridge, where it will mature the longer you leave it.

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