food to glow

feel good food that's good for you

kimchi wrapsKimchi is a new obsession for us in the food to glow family. We had our first taste a few years ago – love at first bite – but having made it a few times, and bought it many more, it is a not infrequent addition to our breakfast, lunch or dinner. Mostly as a flavouring, but also as a central ingredient too.

If something seems like it might be a little bland, instead of reaching for hot sauce or salt, we tend to reach for the kimchi pot (okay, I do). I should perhaps squeeze some into a tiny pot and carry it in my handbag, like some do Tabasco sauce. I could start a trend. A better one than carrying around tiny dogs.

We love kimchi’s crunchy, pungent, slightly spicy flavour, with the kick from traditional Korean pepper paste or flaked pepper – gochujang. Which is not as spicy as it sounds. Or even from non-traditional and definitely hotter, sriracha.

But we would have to go a ways to being honorary South Koreans: over 50 per cent of people enjoy at least a spoonful of it at breakfast, lunch AND dinner. It is estimated that just over 12 per cent of the average South Korean diet is kimchi. That’s a lot of kimchi!kimchi wrapsWhat Is Kimchi Anyway? And Why Would I Want To Eat It? Here I am blathering on about kimchi when some of you may be scratching your head wondering what the hell I’m on about. Basically kimchi is spicy, sour, umami-infused fermented cabbage – kind of like a Korean version of sauerkraut. But even if you don’t like sauerkraut, you may very well like kimchi. It has a lot going on that, if you like things a bit punchy, a bit spicy, a wee bit whiffy even (I am really selling this, aren’t I), you are going to go crazy for kimchi. If you like ‘smelly’ cheeses, kimchi-love is almost guaranteed.

Basic kimchi is Napa, or chinese, cabbage, chopped (or not) and fermented over days with a combination of salt, a little sugar (or something like apple juice), garlic, ginger, hot pepper (optional though most use it), and either kelp powder or shrimp paste/fish sauce.

It is a two-stage, very easy process to make kimchi, but does require a bit of boldness and faith on your part.

Changing something from a raw state to a fermented, lively – living – food is nothing short of amazing. The beneficial good bacterias grown during the process make the cabbage and other add-ins more than the sum of their parts. Highly digestible, gut-detoxifying, bad cholesterol-lowering and nutrient-enhancing, kimchi is considered by some to be one of the most nutritionally valuable foods we can eat. It is also very high in fibre and very low in calories: a typical serving of 100 grams is around the 30 calorie mark. And with over 200 official varieties to make, you will never get bored eating this fabulous food. Of course I had to make my own version, using a favourite Scottish ingredient. Naturally it was with kale!

Bought versus Homemade: To be honest, the bought stuff can taste fantastic. I’ve never had a duff purchase. We are lucky to have numerous Chinese supermarkets that stock Korean products. But many of you may not be able to get kimchi easily, or may want a vegetarian version – most commercial ones use fermented shrimp paste to get the requisite pungent, briny flavour. Kelp flakes or powder are the go-to ingredients to get your umami hit without going the fish route. I use wakame flakes, and I don’t bother grinding them.

Some of the recipes you see are quite basic (I like), while some are more long-winded and traditional, and use such things as glutinous rice powder and oysters (intrigued, but not going there). Here is a link to an easy kimchi recipe from The Kitchn that I use as a template. But I get inspiration and ideas from looking at many other recipes. Here is an intriguing vegan version from the blog, Beyond Kimchee (note the alternate spelling). You will see that not only are are there numerous methods to choose from, but that you can use all kinds of vegetables and natural flavourings to customise your kimchi.

If you have never knowingly had kimchi before – and if you have ever been to a Korean restaurant you WILL have had it, even if just a dollop on your bibimbap, or presented with a selection of pickles – I strongly suggest you buy some first. Or visit a Korean cafe to try it. I would hate you to spend a few days preparing and watching (yes, watching) your kimchi and then find it is not for you. But I hope you will love it as much as we do, and want to have a go with making your own.

In fact, we love kimchi so much that Mr A just yesterday said to me, after polishing off a plate of my fourth kimchi pancake experiment in as many weeks (coming soon), “feel free to keep experimenting on us.” And he meant that in a good way ;-).

sneaky peek at my upcoming kimchi pancake!

sneaky peek at my upcoming kimchi pancake!

Ways To Use Your Kimchi: I use kimchi in many ways, and will doubtless find others as I grow more in love with its briny, savoury, wholesome taste. My current top ways are in pancakes (kind of like a Japanese okinomyaki), with fried leftover rice and stir-fried greens, in savoury porridge, in quesadillas, in a fabulous grilled cheese (a current fave, if a bit fatty!), in noodle soup, as a tiny lift for a vegetable gratin, on avocado toast, and with hot almond butter-coated noodles. If these don’t quite ring your bell, have a look at these treatments from Serious Eats.

Today’s recipe is a fun lunch dish I dreamt up one morning. I originally had thought of putting it in a rice crepe – a dosa – but quickly realised that kimchi needs something more robust than a diaphanous wrapper to contain its juicy goodness. And what more appropriate wrapper than a cabbage leaf? Not the most elegant thing to eat, but my oh my, it is incredibly good. And don’t be put off by the wordy instructions: I have included tips on boiling the eggs and blanching the vegetables. If you are au fait with those things then you need only read the ingredients list!

This wrap is a super way to try kimchi for the first – but almost certainly not the last – time.

Want to know more about kimchi – its history, uses, nutrition and more? The website I Love Kimchi is for you.

환호 “hwanho!” (cheers!)

kimchi wraps

Kimchi and Avocado Wraps (grain free)

  • Servings: 2 (or 1)
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

If you are keen on combining textures and flavours in your food, this will be a must-try. The only sticking point is that you need the kimchi on hand – either bought or homemade. Once that minor detail is sorted this cabbage-wrapped treat can be made in a flash.

Change out the ingredients to suit you but we love this with blanched cabbage leaves, spring asparagus, avocado and still-warm hard-cooked egg. Winter add-ins might include roasted winter squash slices and tart apple (strange but it works).

Kimchi wraps are nourishing, tasty and very healthy too. And I guess I should also add, a tad messy!

2 eggs

2 large cabbage leaves or collard leaves

6-8 young asparagus spears, bottoms trimmed/snapped off

1 avocado

handful of fresh sprouts (I used radish and alfalfa)

half cup of prepared kimchi (bought or homemade)

Hot pepper flakes/powder, optional

1. Hard-boil the eggs your usual way. I place them in a small pan of cold water – just to cover – and bring them just to boiling, then turn the heat right down to simmer. I let the eggs simmer for one minute before turning the heat off, covering and leaving for 10-12 minutes. This works every time for me, but use your own method. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon and rinse under cool water. Crack and peel. Slice the eggs and set aside, lightly covered.

2. Fill a large pan with about four or five inches of water; bring to the boil. Take the cabbage leaves and lay them in the water; leave for 15 seconds. Pull them out with a slotted spoon or tongs and run under a cool tap. They should be softened, but if not pop them in for a few more seconds. Set aside on a tea towel. Keep the hot water.

3. Bring the pan of water back up to the boil and add the asparagus spears. I cook the asparagus for no longer than 2 minutes so as to retain the colour, and most of the crunch. Either plunge them in cold water or lay them flat on a tea towel to cool.asparagus

4. Now it is time to assemble the kimchi wrap. Cut the avocado and slice. We tend to just have half the avocado between two, but use more if you like. Lay the cabbage leaves on a flat surface and add ‘lines’ of kimchi, avocado, sprouts, asparagus and egg. Sprinkle over the hot pepper flakes, if using, and roll up.  To keep it less messy for eating, pull up the bottom of the leaf to come one quarter the way up (you may need to cut a nick in the rib to help it fold)  and pull the sides in tightly. This should prevent too much spicy kimchi spillage!

Eat immediately or wrap tightly in parchment paper and string for a bagged lunch.

Note: If you are making this just for you, use one egg and divide between the two leaves. I usually have two wraps as I am always hungry! And greedy…

Miss R’s track of the week is Sizzle Bird’s re-mix of Empty, by Metric.

https://soundcloud.com/sizzlebird/metric-empty-sizzlebird-remix

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59 thoughts on “Kimchi and Avocado Lunch Wraps (grain-free/easily vegan)

  1. This looks delicious! Can’t wait to try it.

  2. Beautiful. I will be trying this shortly as I’m enjoying a lot of leaf wrap lunches at the moment. Thank you!

    1. Power to the leaf wrap! There are just so many ways to fill our leaves that we can pretty much just leave bread (gluten-fee or not) for special.

  3. Reblogged this on Girl in the Gym Jungle and commented:
    Looks beautiful!

  4. kyangel17 says:

    That looks so good. I’ve never tried kimchi, but I will be looking for it now, because I think I would love it. I do love anything that is wrapped. Such a great way to make a meal. Thanks for sharing this.

    1. Wraps are just more fun, aren’t they? Please go and buy some kimchi before thinking about making your own. If you need vegan, I’m sure you can source that online.

  5. I love kimchee and am gonna try making it soon at home! These rolls or wraps look awesome!

    1. Thanks! It is pretty awesome if I say so myself ;-)

  6. This just looks so light and delicious… I must try this soon.. :-)

    1. It is very light and quite delicious. I hope you try it soon :-)

  7. Liz Posmyk of Bizzy Lizzy's Good Things says:

    Kimchi = interesting…. not sure if it would go down well with my man… but a lovely recipe nonetheless… always vibrant and healthy!

    1. Maybe you can sneak a pot or bag in when he is away? If you haven’t tried it I am pretty sure you would really like it. Burn a nice candle to put him off the scent, as it were ;P

  8. I adore this idea. I have used lettuce wraps but the cabbage is such a good, more resilient kind of leaf. I have a friend who is Korean so only recently started trying out Bibimbap, kimchi and the like but not made them yet- you have inspired me to try this

    1. Your friend will be introducing you to some of the best food in the world, in my opinion. I hope you get a chance to try this simple way to eat kimchi. Pancakes are however coming soon! Thanks for stopping by, Nazima

  9. Deena Kakaya says:

    AH, after seeing your pics of this recipe I had wondered where the post was…and here it is, beautiful and utterly tempting. I really enjoy each of your ingredients, in fact they make up my idea wrap; eggs, asparagus, avocado…love them! And I had not thought of using cabbage leaf but as Nazima says, they are of course more resilient…why didnt I think of that already?

    I enjoyed reading your bit about bought versus homemade kimchi, as I do have to really hunt down the veggie versions. xx

    1. You remembered those pics? Good memory cos that was awhile ago ;-) The kelp/wakame really works in keeping the briny back notes without using any fish products. I like just nibbling wakame flakes and also sprinkle them over my kimchi pancakes. Yummy stuff!

  10. I’ve never tried Kimchi before but you’ve definitely convinced me to give it a shot Kellie! Looks so vibrant, I bet it would make a great warming addition to winter dishes :)

    1. Absolutely! In stews for a flavour kick would be the place to start. But also perhaps just warmed and slipped over an omelette. Cheers, Brendon :-)

  11. Jessie says:

    You’re so creative. ^^ As a Korean who loves Kimchi and eats Kimchi almost everyday, I’m so surprised to know that there are so many foreign people who enjoy Kimchi and even create their own Kimchi-based dishes. Yours looks so yummy.

    1. Thanks so much Jessie. I’m glad you approve! I am always slightly hesitant to post quite random takes on other cultures’ cuisines but I do try and only post the ones that get the thumbs up from tastebuds other than my own :-) Thanks again. I feel relived now!

  12. cheri says:

    We love kimchi, it seems like there are many different recipes of this as well. Gorgeous pics Kellie!

    1. Cheers, Cheri. Kimchi is a welcome addition to so many dishes. Grilled kimcheese is one of our favourites when I have made bread or we have bread in the house.

  13. thespicyrd says:

    Super clever idea! {As always :-)} I will confess to not liking hard boiled eggs, so I’m thinking this would be delicious w/ tofu instead. And, kimchi? It’s definitely grown on me-Would love to try making a homemade version soon!

    1. I know what you mean about hardboiled eggs. I am very picky about them so will only eat them freshly boiled and not sat around or from the fridge. But yes, tofu would be great (smoked tofu espesh) and would make a great protein boost for vegetarians.

  14. Beautiful, fresh and artistic. Just what I would love to unwrap for lunch. Great idea, thank you!

    1. Just have a wad of napkins on hand – messy business. Or at least I make it that way. Perhaps all components chopped finely would be more elegant to eat (like a kimchi egg salad) but then we would lose those nice lines that please you and me! Shall I give you a wee pot the next time I see you?

      1. oooooh YES please! Heehee, you know me too well, yes, I’m loving those lines :)

  15. Love your thorough plug for kimchi and suggested uses for it! I’ve yet to make it from scratch but it’s on my list and I like The Kitchn’s recipe you linked to. These kimchi and avocado wraps look amazing of course.

    1. Kellie, I made the kimchi last week (made a few tweaks per GKS’s recipe), let it sit in the fridge over the long weekend while we were gone and it was ready and waiting for us when we returned today. It’s so good, and husband loves it because I made it extra spicy. I added it as a side to a quinoa salad with avocado, but can’t wait to try it with a few of your suggested recipes as well! Thank you for the nudge to make this at home.

      1. Fantastic, Katie. Did you add apple? I like it with that wee bit of sweetness in with the sour and hot. I am soon to blog a simple, totally lush snack/lunch that you may have already instinctively made… Kimchi just stir-fried into greens and eaten with eggs in the morning is such a favourite, but you really have to brush teeth well and use mouth wash! As a side bonus, kimchi is also fantastic for bowel health (as you will already know).

      2. No, I did not add apple but that’s a fantastic idea because I’m otherwise feeling the need to pair the kimchi with other things that have a sweet component. The quinoa salad had dried currants and a yellow miso dressing drizzled over top. Love the egg idea, will definitely make that when you’ve posted! And yes non-dairy probiotics such as kombucha, water-based kefir, etc are hard to come by here in St. Gallen so I turn to fermented foods like kimchi and miso for my gut health fix. ;-)

  16. Thank you so much for sharing great, healthy and delicious food!

  17. Shannon says:

    Super post, Kellie! As soon as I find myself in the kitchen for a stretch, kimchi is on my list of new things to make. Every week, my South Korean sushi chef and his wife prepare my kids’ lunch kits — you could say we have a relationship. I passed on a haul from my yard collards, mustard, cabbage, leek) and she in turn made me kimchi from it. She inadvertently made me a kimchi lover!

    Now I know that the fish paste makes it not-vegan, but if I can get around using it while at the same time keeping the punch, I will be successful. Any recommends from you would be helpful.

    Thank you for taking such extraordinary measures to introduce Americans to delicious alternatives. It is a sea out there; your blog helps pop the islands up. Cheers!

    1. What a lovely response from you, Shannon. Thank you. And wow, a sushi chef does your kids’ lunches! I can’t think of much nicer than that. As for the kimchi, the gochujang is the pepper flakes as well as the paste (which often has fishy things in it), and wakame/kelp are BRILLIANT subs for the usual fermented fish products. All home versions are very adaptable, and you can adjust the taste to give it more oomph even after it has started fermenting. Lastly, because of my ex-patness I feel comfortable speaking with two hats on with regards to information and recipes. Thanks for your appreciation :-)))

  18. Kimchi is one of those things I keep reading about but had no idea what it is! Thank you for the explanation and info as well as the fab recipe xx

    1. You are most welcome. You would LOVE the veggie version. Of that I am sure, seeing as our tastebuds seem twinned. If that doesn’t sound too weird!

      1. Oh no, not weird at all, makes complete sense! ;)

  19. How I love kimchi, it is something I keep meaning to make. Adding it to these fantastic crunchy cabbage wraps packed full of so many goodies would certainly see me through lunchtime. I love having new ideas for what to eat during the day and thanks for your matcha advice. I can’t believe how little I need to make a cup, it is delicious!

    1. Glad to help out with the matcha measures. It gives such a great lift but with a calming edge. I drink it cold with lemon and spearmint. And do give the kimchi making a whirl. It’s super easy and as rewarding as making sourdough bread.

  20. narf77 says:

    Your little kimchi pot would be just as “alive” as those poor handbag dogs and would pack an even bigger bite! My daughters produce kimchi like it’s going out of fashion. Theirs contains little shrimp etc. so I can’t eat it but I am very impressed by their constant supply. They use it in everything. I made a HUGE vat of kimchi and used sea veggies to add that umami “sea” flavour and it worked. Not only did I add that delicious sea flavour, but I added the smell as well and Steve relegated my kimchi to the shed as he refused to allow it to keep wafting it’s delightful L’eau de la mer to our kitchen ;). Couldn’t see Ms R’s track today :(. Note to self “make more kimchi!” :)

    1. The track is below the recipe. I’ll tell Rachel you were looking for it. I also use sea veg – wakame – and it us brilliant. I even nibble wakame flakes for a weird snack. Love it! Your daughter’s sound fabulous! I’d love to see a pic of their stash! Basically I would live to and learn from you for a month or so xx

      1. narf77 says:

        :) My daughters cupboards are full to the brim of interesting ingredients. Since we left home (best idea… parents leave, you NEVER get empty nest syndrome ;) ) they went from non-cooks to brilliant cooks overnight. It’s always an adventure staying over with them, usually something deliciously Asian. I love just looking in their cupboards as they have every ingredient known to man! Stevie-boy just parted with a couple of his precious abalones that a friend gave him (diving friend) so that they could make something Korean with them. The track wasn’t visible at all. Probably a new music player that my PC couldn’t see?

  21. I’ve never had kimchee but this post really makes me want to try it out!

    1. Good stuff. I hope that you do. If you like savoury foods you should really like this.

  22. Love this recipe; love your blog. Always fresh, new, creative ideas that has me rushing into the kitchen! I really enjoyed the comments too and am going to try my hand at making kimchi for the first time this weekend.

    1. What a lovely thing to say. I’m almost blushing :-) Do try the kimchi – you will love it and find many uses for it. Promise!

  23. I’ve never tried Kimchi but your recipe looks so divine that I really must. I do know that fermented foods are very good for you – I often add sauerkraut to sandwiches – call me strange! Love the asparagus and egg in this healthy wrap.

    1. I love sauerkraut too, but I go on wee sprees with foods like that (i.e. not everyday foods) and then put them aside for awhile. Sauerkraut is great with avocado!

  24. aliyajade says:

    It never really occurred to make that it was possible to make kimchi at home that’s as good as the massive bags I buy from a Korean supermarket close by. Thanks- will definitely try it!

  25. Shannon Lim says:

    what a great idea to use leaf as wrap! and the egg.. everything with eggs taste better.. for me :P i’ve gotta learn to appreciate kimchi, i think i’m missing out

    1. You know, Shannon, the best thing about making kimchi yourself is that you can eat it young and not so sour. The older it is the more aged and sour it tastes. Which is fine by me (old sourpuss here) but with just a few days fermenting it is still very sweet but spicy. I’m pleased you like all of the other ingredients.

  26. HotDish says:

    I made this for lunch the other day, very delicious. Thanks for the idea! I love kimchi but had run out ideas for how to use it. I like that you added the egg for a little protein.

    1. Thanks for letting me know! I also make kimchee grilled cheese with shiitake too. And I’m blogging kimchee pancakes very soon. Have you made those before? Huge hit in our house, but not an original idea from me, just with a little Food To Glow tweak. Thanks again for your recipe feedback :-)

      1. HotDish says:

        Kimchee grilled cheese and kimchee pancakes both sound great! I haven’t made either, but I can see how adapting my recipe for spelt and green onion pancakes might be good! I’ll wait to see your twist though. :) My favorite way to eat kimchee is with scrambled eggs and avocado wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla.

      2. Oooh, the scrambled egg and avocado thing is a goodie – a cousin of my wrap! I hope you see this message and know that the kimchi pancakes are up on the blog.Probs very easy to adapt your own pancake recipe for it, adjusting the liquid as you see fit. Enjoy!

      3. HotDish says:

        I just have to tell you, this has become my go-to lunch in the past couple of weeks. I absolutely love it. It is healthy, delicious, satisfying, and very quick and easy to make if you have the ingredients. Thanks again for sharing!

      4. Fantastic! Oh thanks so much for letting me know and sharing it here in the comments. We love it too!

If you have time, I would love to hear from you. Thanks so much!

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