We have literally dozens of herbs, supplements, natural foods, tinctures and strategies for building natural immunity in our Thai household of 2 - Miss 15 and moi, the solo mom. The challenge is not so much to find things to help build natural immunity, but to engage the said 15 year old so that "Here, eat this, it's good for you!" isn't met with resistance & loud eye rolls.
I was despairing last week as we sat in a crowded immigration waiting room at the Thai-Burmese border - the room measured about 4 meters x 6 meters, was horribly hot on a 40C afternoon and held 2 immigration officers, myself and Miss 15 and no less than 9 Chinese tourists awaiting evisa approvals. We sat there for more than 3 hours with little ventilation. I discreetly handed Miss 15 my special home-made colloidal-silver anti-viral throat spray as a #coronavirus precaution, only to be met with the eyeroll. Urgh. FFWD 10 days and shit is getting very real in Thailand, with Martial Law declared to start tomorrow.
I was pondering, at 4am as many solo moms do when they are worried, how to engage Miss 15 proactively in her own preventative natural healthcare & immune system development, when I had a brainwave - an AHA!!! moment. Kimchi!!!
This time last year, Miss-Then-14 - a kpop devotee - was in South Korea having the time of her life - her first solo overseas travel, time with her bf's family and enjoying using the Korean language she has studied for the last 2 years. Yes, I am that mom who let her go.
She was GUTTED to have had to cancel travel plans to go to Korea again this March-April (long Thai hot-season school holidays) and it has made staying at home in isolation and preparing for Lock Down and Martial Law tomorrow even harder for her.
It has long been known that eating fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kimchi can offer many health benefits but exactly why this is the case has remained something of a mystery. Now, researchers at the University of Leipzig in Germany have found that the beneficial effects may be due to the bacteria found in fermented foods boosting the action of the immune system. Source.
It was a no brainer. And so Miss 15 and I spent a lovely afternoon together, making kimchi. I let HER choose the recipe from a million online sources and, after consultation with her Korean friends, this is our recipe-methodology:
NB quantities are estimates and can be adjusted due to personal taste.
1 organic cabbage
1 large organic daikon radish
4 or 5 organic green scallions
1 whole bulb of garlic
Fresh ginger root (about 2 inches)
Mineral or Himalayan salt - 3-4 tablespoons
Natural sugar - about 1 teaspoon
Korean chili flakes (see note below) - 1 tablespoon for mild, 5 for Korean level spicy
Fish Sauce (see note below)
Pure chlorine-free water
Step 1. Prepare the Cabbage.
Rough chop the cabbage, sprinkle all the salt over, cover with the water, mix with your hands and COVER. Set aside for about 2 hours till cabbage softens. Drain but keep a little of the water aside.
Step 2. Prepare the paste & other vegetables.
Peel & grate ginger and garlic. Mix together with sugar, chili flakes and fish sauce* (see note). Add some of the reserved salt water to moisten & smooth your paste.
Julienne the daikon radish and cut the scallions into short lengths.
Step 3. Combine it all.
Mix the wilted, drained cabbage, the other vegetables and the paste THOROUGHLY with your hands.
Step 4. Pack into a glass jar.
Pack into a large, clean glass jar.
Pack it down HARD to it is covered by the brine. If there is not enough brine, use a little more of your cabbage salt water.
Step 5. Seal the jar and set aside in a warm place for between 1 and 5 days.
Open the jar daily to release gases and to push the kimchi down under the brine.
When you're happy with the taste, pack it into smaller glass jars and store in the fridge. Stir into warm vegetable broth to make yummy Kimchi soup. Serve on the side with meals and salads, every day.
Our next mission?? Kimchi pancakes! But that's for another day & another post.
NOTE: You don't HAVE to use fish sauce. It gives the authentic Korean taste that MATTERS to my daughter right now, but we don't usually use it. You can substitute soy sauce, tamari or just plain water. The Korean chili? My daughter nearly wept when I suggested simply using cheap Thai dried chili flakes. I'm SURE it's much the same, but she was not to be convinced.
FUN TIMES with your loved ones in the kitchen.
After all, we have SO MUCH TIME to cook now!!
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