Sunday, February 3, 2013

Raw Kimchi

This Kimchi recipe was inspired by Sandor Katz from his book 'Wild Fermentation'.

If you are new to fermentation, here's how it works. The salt pulls water out of the cabbage (through osmosis), and this creates the brine in which the cabbage can ferment and sour without rotting. The salt also has the effect of keeping the cabbage crunchy, by inhibiting organisms and enzymes that soften it.

Raw Kimchi
Yield:  1 quart

2 Tbsp Sea salt
1/2 pound Savoy Cabbage, coarsely chopped
1/2 pound Red Cabbage, coarsely chopped
1 daikon radish, sliced into 1/4" slices
2 carrots, sliced into 1/4" slices
Any other veggies you want to add
Spice Mixture:
1/2 onion, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp red chili flakes
1 tsp caraway seeds

  • FIRST:  Prepare a brine by mixing 1 quart of filtered water (do not use tap water) and 2 Tbsp sea salt in a large glass bowl. Set this salty mixture aside. For this batch I used Himalayan salt.
  • SECOND:  Shred the cabbage on a mandoline or with a large knife.
  • Slice daikon radish and carrots into 1/4" slices.
  • At this point you can add any other veggies you like. I used red and green cabbage for the lovely colour combination, but feel free to experiment with seaweed, greens, Brussels sprouts, turnips, beets, burdock roots or other veggies.
  • Place all chopped veggies into the bowl containing the brine and cover with a plate that fits snugly into the bowl.
  • To keep the veggies submerged in the brine, place a heavy weight on top of the plate. I used a large glass jar filled with water. If you use a plastic jug for weight, set it inside a glass bowl to protect the brine from plastic. Leave this bowl with brine and veggies sit on the counter overnight.
  • The next morning, put a colander over another bowl (to catch and save the brine) and pour veggies into the colander draining the brine from the veggies.
  • Taste the Kimchi for saltiness. There will be a strong salty taste, but not so salty that it is difficult to eat. If too salty, rinse with water. If not salty enough, stir in another tsp of salt, let sit awhile, and taste again.
  • THIRD:  Finely chop onion, green onion, grate or finely chop the garlic and ginger. Mix these together with chili flakes and caraway seeds.
  • Mix the spice mixture together with the soaked veggies and stir well.
  • Pack into a glass wide mouth quart jar. Pack it down really well to reduce any air in the mixture. The liquid will rise to cover the veggies as you continue to pack it down. The wooden mallet pictured here was just the right size to fit inside the jar, but if you get creative I'm sure you will find something in your kitchen to use.
  • If there is not enough brine to cover the veggies, add some of the extra brine you saved so the veggies are covered by one inch of brine, leaving one inch of space between the brine and the lid of the jar.
  • FOURTH:  Put a tight fitting lid on the quart jar and leave to sit on the counter for 5 days in a corner out of the light. Check every couple of days to make sure veggies are still submerged in the brine. If not open the lid and pack down again until they are covered. 
  • After 5 days, remove the quart jar from the counter and place the covered jar in the fridge. In the summer or in a heated room, its life cycle is more rapid. Coolness slows down the fermentation so it will last longer.
  • This batch turned out really good! The onions, garlic, and ginger added lots of flavour. And I am sooo enjoying fermented foods that I always keep a jar of something fermented in the fridge!

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