You all know how much I adore fermented foods (remember – eat your beasties!), and that I make sure they’re a frequent player on my mealtime stage. And because I can be a bit … passionate … with my tastes, I tend to go through fermented food phases. Sometimes I’m all about yogurt, and other times I’m kombucha-crazed, and most recently it’s been kimchi!
Kimchi is like sauerkraut but BETTER, because it’s got extra veggies and just as much of a spicy kick as you like. It’s great on salads or on beans/greens/grain bowls, and I have to say, it pairs particularly smashingly with my super-amazing tahini sauce of awesome.
The “recipe” I use is adapted from the fermenting genius himself, Sandor Ellix Katz, aka “Sandorkraut”. I put “recipe” in quotes because it’s just so very general. I mean, fermented veggies are fermented veggies and they all sort of follow the same basic principle. And the beauty of kimchi is that there’s no end to the combinations of vegetables you can come up with! So what follows is an outline, and really, play with it however you want.
2 medium heads of napa cabbage (traditional) or bok choi or green or red cabbage
Carrots (I use 3-4 large ones)
Onion (I use 1, red or white) or leeks or scallions or shallots or scapes or whateva
Garlic (I use 4 cloves)
Other veggies, like radishes, jicama, daikon, beets, burdock, turnips, seaweed, etc
Fresh grated ginger, a few tablespoons
Hot chilis or chili flakes, to taste. Traditional kimchi is spicy!
Begin by making a brine of about 4 tablespoons salt in 6 cups of water, stirring until the salt completely dissolves. Use a giant bowl.
Process all your veggies. Grating is best, especially for the harder stuff like carrots. Cabbage can just be rough chopped. Add all the veggies into the bowl of brine, mix them around well, and then cover with a plate or something to weight them down and keep them submerged. You want to leave them here for a few hours, until they’re nice and soft.
Mince the garlic, ginger, and chilis. Kimchi can take a whole lotta flavor, so don’t worry – err on the side of excess. (yay! how often do you hear that?) In a mortar and pestle or small bowl, mash/grind the spices into a paste.
Drain the brine from the veggies, but reserve it. Taste the veggies – they should be nice and salty, but not offensive. You can adjust at this point, by either adding more salt or rinsing the veggies under water. But again, err on the side of salty.
Mix the spice paste into the veggies using your bare hands. Get it all good and mixed. Then, stuff everything into a glass jar or ceramic crock. Use your fist to squish it down tight, so that the liquid squeezes out and covers the veggies. Pack it as tight as you can and if necessary, add a bit of the reserved brine. Weight the veggies down with a small plate or jar or a plastic bag filled with brine – whatever will best keep them submerged (you can see pics of this here). Cover the jar with a breathable rag (not lid) and rubber band.
Place in a warm clean place (I like the top of my fridge) and taste it every day as it matures. It will be ready in a week or so, at which point you can move it to the fridge, where it will keep indefinitely.
Put it on everything! Enjoy!