I hope you all had a lovely first month of the year and are looking forward to getting closer to spring, without wishing time away, of course! This month’s post comes in two parts, the first part is a homemade Korean Kimchi, which kind of is the spicy version of Sauerkraut and the second part is a Vietnamese Chicken broth Pho Soup. Both will be published in the Brain Bio Center’s February Newsletter. As always their Newsletter will be packed with lots of interesting information, so it is well worth signing up for it. http://www.foodforthebrain.org/brain-bio-centre.aspx
Kimchi has the same lovely fresh crunch as Sauerkraut but with an added heat and deep flavour from chili, ginger and garlic, so it is the perfect side for Asian style dishes. Making your own Kimchi at home is quite easy and even though it is not a quick process, it’s fun and you might even get a little attached to your love of labour- wait until you start seeing the bubbles rising and you will know what I am talking about, it’s quite exciting.
My love for making my own fermented foods was first inspired by Daphne Lambert from the http://www.greencuisinetrust.org , whose Fermentation workshop I attended. Daphne has such a wealth of knowledge, she is an amazing teacher and organic chef, which made the day not only super interesting, we also got to sample absolutely delicious fermented foods, I can only highly recommend giving it a go. Another fermentation guru is Sandor Katz, he has written many books about fermenting foods- I love his book ‘ Wild Fermentation’ , it is an easy read and full of interesting facts and tips.
Fermenting foods is one of the oldest ways of preserving foods and involves the use of salt or sugar and water along with an optional choice of herbs and spices. Some fermentation processes require yeast or bacterial cultures including lactobacillus acidophilus to be added, as done when making yogurt or Kefir. These little beneficial bugs and yeasts are the same, among many other kinds of beneficial bacteria, already resident in our gut but more are always very welcome as they help break down the food. In fact fermentation is a pre -digestion process, which leaves less work to us when eating these foods.
It is not necessary to add any bacteria when making Kimchi , they are already on the vegetables and are regulated during the fermentation process. All you need is sea salt, filtered water and of course your choice of seasonal vegetables. I went for turnips and carrots, but you can use all kinds of root and other vegetables, members of the cabbage family for example love being fermented.
I am sending the recipe through today as the process of making Kimchi takes about a week . This should give you enough time to have it ready for the chicken pho soup post next week.
Homemade Kimchi – makes 1 medium sized Kilner Jar
1 small Chinese cabbage ( roughly chopped)
4 small carrots (finely sliced)
4 medium sized turnips ( finely sliced)
3 cloves of garlic (grated)
2 chilies, finely chopped ( remove seeds to control heat)
3 tablespoons of freshly grated ginger
1 tsp of sesame seeds ( optional)
750-1000ml brine ( mix 2 tbsp of sea salt with 750ml filtered water)
Mix salt and water in a bowl and set aside, then peel and very finely slice the carrots and turnips or if using cabbage, roughly chop, add to the salt water , making sure the vegetables are well covered in salt water and leave to soaks over night. A tip for slicing the carrots and turnips: You can get very fine stings rather than slices by using a peeler, it looks great and is super quick and easy.
Prepare the Kimchi paste by blending the garlic, ginger and chili together, put in a jar and store in the fridge until the next day.
The following day, drain the soaked vegetables, keeping the brine as you may need to add some at the end. Check the vegetables for taste, if they taste too salty, rinse with water once. Next mix the drained vegetables with the Kimchi paste, mix well to make sure the paste is well distributed.
Then take the Kilner jar and pack the vegetables tightly into the jar, one layer at a time, pressing down layer for layer. The brine will start rising slowly, keep on packing and pressing down the layers, leaving two inches at the top. It is important that the vegetables are covered with rising brine, so add some of the left over brine if needs be for the vegetables to be well covered.
Now place a glass of water on top of the vegetables to press them down, put the jar on a plate, as rising brine might spill over the top during the fermentation process. Cover with a towel and leave to ferment in a warm place for 5-7 days.
Check daily to see where the fermentation process is at, you will see bubbles rising, this is a sign that our little helping bacteria are hard at work. Press the glass down to release some of the air, which helps to speed up the process a little. Once the bubbles stop showing, usually after a week, close air tight and store in the fridge until serving.
Try with Irma’s gluten free summer rolls or watch out for next week’s chicken broth pho served with Kimchi…..
Bon Appetite !