I really miss Korea…. It is topographically freaking gorgeous and has far more culture collected over millennia than we could ever hope to catch up to here in our little baby country. When you have a (food) culture that has developed for this long … you know, before refrigeration (yes, there was a time), you tend to find quite a few alternative preservation methods. I prefer fermentation, as we evolved to thrive with the bacterial byproducts of this process. When in Korea, every single meal comes with ban chan, which are a rainbow of small fermented side dishes to accompany the main. There is ALWAYS kimchi. Always. I love it so so much, and honestly, this spicy cabbage dish is more versatile than you would think. The Koreans will use it in soup, fried rice, mandu (dumplings) and simply wrapped with rice and nori. I like some Western variation uses, such as a spicy condiment on
burgers or in a breakfast burrito. But before you can do any of these things, I suppose we need actual kimchi!Keep this process as sterile as possible, because we’re food chemists playing with science, y’all!Ingredients:Head of cabbage (preferably a lacey type, but it all works)Bunch green onions, cut into 1 inch pieces8 oz kohlrabi or diakon, cut into matchsticks4 cloves garlic, minced2 TBSP Good quality fish sauce (Red Boat for the win!)1 TBSP salt per qt of product (generally 1 each in 2 qt jars)1/8 cup gochugaru (hot Korean pepper powder) (more or less depending on your love of heat!)
- Start with sterile jar (submerge lid and jar in boiling water for a minute)
- Cut cabbage into bite sized pieces and reserve a piece the size of the jar width to use as a fermentation plug.
- Place in a large bowl with the salt and massage to get the breakdown process started.
- Add minced garlic, fish sauce, scallions, kohlrabi, and gochugaru, then massage again. (I recommend using gloves since this will leave your hands spicy!)
- Compress all the ingredients into the sterile mason jar(s). The mixture should be watery as the salt is drawing the water from the cabbage. Use the cabbage plug(s) to keep the solids submerged below the liquid level. If you don’t have enough liquid, add a bit of water so all solids are submerged by a half inch or so.
- Cover with the lid (Loosely! Pressure will build up, so it has to be able to breathe) and store in a cool dry place for a couple days as nature does its lacto-fermented magic.
- Day 3 or 4, move to the fridge (with the lid not super tight) and continue to ferment as long as you like. The longer you wait, the more intense the flavor (I like 3-4 weeks).