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Kale Kimchi Recipe

by Jeanette on September 26, 2012 · 20 Comments
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Kale Kimchi in a Jar

Kale Kimchi in a Jar

I got lots of kale in my CSA Box throughout the summer and am still getting kale as we go into fall. Throughout the summer, I made plenty of pesto and salads with kale (including massaged kale salad), but as I got more and more kale each week, I started to think of other ways I could use this healthy leafy green vegetable. I thought, why not make Kale Kimchi? Kale is tougher and more fibrous than Napa Cabbage, the typical leafy vegetable that kimchi is made with. I wasn’t sure how kimchi made with kale would turn out, but that’s what I love about experimenting in the kitchen.

I stripped the kale leaves of their stems, salted them and left them in a bowl overnight on my kitchen counter top. The next day, I mixed up a spicy red pepper paste with garlic, onion and ginger, and coated all the kale leaves, then put everything in a jar. After 24 hours of fermentation at room temperature, I put the jar in the refrigerator to chill. What resulted was a tangy, spicy kimchi with a chewier texture than napa cabbage kimchi. Although I didn’t mind the chewier texture of this kale kimchi, I might try it in Korean Kimchi Soup to soften up this vegetable.
Kale Kimchi

Kimchi is a fermented food, much like miso, soy sauce, kosher sour pickles, sauerkraut, cheese, sourdough bread, beer, wine and yogurt. Last week, I posted a recipe for Red Radish Kimchi and talked about the process of fermentation and the health benefits. Although health food stores now carry a wider variety of fermented foods, it’s so easy to make your own at home and a lot less expensive. The New York Times actually ran an article last week featuring fermented foods. Interestingly enough, Momofuku has a test kitchen where they’ve been experimenting with all different sorts of fermented foods of the future (e.g., miso made with nuts). There’s even a Harvard microbiologist, Rachel Dutton, who has been working with chefs and food artisans to study the microbial communities of different fermented foods and how they create distinctive flavors and aromas.

So what’s the fuss behind fermented foods? Fermented foods are believed to help promote good gut health as well as support the immune system by helping to replenish the good bacteria in the gut. According to Dr. Hyman, there are 500 species and 3 pounds of bacteria in your gut that help keep your body healthy. A healthy balance of good bacteria (e.g., lactobacillus, bifidobacteria) is critical to maintain good health. I believe this is true as my youngest son had gut issues over a year ago, which caused severe abdominal pain and eczema, but were resolved by replenishing his gut with probiotics.

So, not only are fermented foods full of umami, interesting textures and flavors, but they’re also good for you. When you combine the process of fermentation with a Kale, a power food, you get Kale Kimchi – a Power Fermented Food!

Today, I’m sharing a Kale Kimchi recipe for this week’s Food Network Fall Fest event where Kale is being featured. Each week through the fall season, a group of talented bloggers will be featuring a recipe using fresh fall produce that’s in season.

Be sure to check out the following recipes from all my friends participating in this week’s Fall Fest!

Jeanette’s Healthy Living: Kale Kimchi
Bacon and Souffle: Roasted Carrot Salad With Baby Kale
From My Corner of Saratoga: Pork, Kale and White Bean Soup
Feed My Phoebe: Kale Salad With Bagna Cauda Vinaigrette
Cooking With Elise: Risotto With Tuscan Kale
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Kale and Rainbow Chard Salad With Peaches, Blackberries and Pine Nuts
Thursday Night Dinner: Linguine With Purple Kale and Italian Sausage
FN Dish: The Rise of the Kale Chip

Kale Kimchi
  • 1 large bunch kale, stems removed, cut into strips
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ onion
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 2 tablespoons Korean red pepper powder
  • 1 teaspoon organic sugar
  • 2 scallions, trimmed, cut into 1-inch lengths
  1. Place kale in a bowl or container. Dissolve salt in 1 cup water. Add to kale and mix well. Cover and let sit at room temperature overnight to pickle, tossing and turning every 3-4 hours (during waking hours ;). Strain kale.
  2. Place garlic and onion in a food processor and process until onion turns to juice. In a small mixing bowl, combine processed garlic and onion, ginger, red pepper powder, and sugar. Toss with kale and make sure all pieces are coated with seasoning. Add scallions and toss again. Spoon kale mixture into glass jars and cover. Store at room temperature overnight to ferment. Chill. Serve.

This post has been linked up to Diet, Dessert and Dog’s Wellness Weekend.

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  1. What a creative use for kale! I have a ton sitting in my fridge too from my CSA and it is always a struggle to come up with new ideas. I love this!

  2. Hi Jeanette! I’ve never made kimchi before. Can’t wait to try this recipe! It looks so very flavorful and with the health benefits how could you go wrong?

  3. Hi Jeanette, thanks for this recipe. I never know what to do with kale, other than juicing it. I have only eaten kimchi one and thought it was okay. I think I may try this recipe. What else could I use if I can’t find the Korean red pepper powder? thank you.

  4. What a fun idea!

  5. Kalyn said it first — fun idea, Jeanette!

  6. Yum. What a fun new way to use kale.
    I have never made kimchi before but I’ve never meant a fermented food that I didn’t love. I hope I get more kale in our CSA so I can make this. Thanks Jeanette.

  7. LOVE kale and LOVE kimchi – this is the perfect recipe for me!! Thanks for posting such an awesome and creative spin on the dish, Jeanette!!

  8. I’ve been trying my hand at a few fermented foods (vinegar and pickles so far) and kimchi is on my list! Love that you experimented using kale!

  9. why have i never put kale in my kimchi?? need to make!!

  10. That is brilliant Jeanette! What a creative use for Kale!

  11. We have a ton of kale in the garden still and this looks like a great way to utilize some of it. I have loved kimchi ever since we had a Korean exchange student live with us – such yummy stuff – thanks!

  12. I love kimchi and I would not have thought to use kale this way. What a fab way to get in more fermented foods.

  13. I have been wanting to try kimchi FOREVER! This looks like such a great recipe, and eminently do-able. Thanks so much for linking up to Wellness Weekend! :)

    • Thanks Ricki – kimchi is really very easy to make as I discovered. Almost any vegetable can be made into kimchi. I’ve made kimchi with kirby cucumbers, radish, and napa cabbage so far.

  14. Such a creative kale recipe!

  15. This is a great and simple recipe. I didn’t have any Korean red pepper, so I substituted 1 Tbsp. crushed red pepper (the type you put on pizza) and 1 tsp ground cayenne pepper. It turned out great! I used the Kale Kimchi to top a stir fry and will try it in a version of Kimchi soup. I think I will also try this same recipe/process with other greens and veggies (cucumbers?). Thanks for sharing!

    • Christie,
      Thanks for trying this and letting me know how it came out – love the substitutions as it’s not always easy to find Korean red pepper flakes. I appreciate you coming back and sharing how you enjoyed it.

  16. Kenneth says:

    Hi I used your recipe but added a whole bunch more onions and some turnip cut into tiny match stick sized pieces as well as the red pepper flakes and cayenne powder the other reader suggested. It looks like the one that you buy in the expensive Korean market except there is no fish sauce or shrimp in it etc. We look forward to trying it in a few days!

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