We’re big fans of the wild ferment and make all sorts of nutritious and delicious veggie and dairy ferments.
I recently came by this particularly enormous and beautiful Chinese cabbage at the local markets. It inspired a flurry of kimchi making, plus a photo shoot to capture its glory for all eternity.
The main difference to our kimchi recipe is that it’s and vegan, here’s how we make it…
Traditionally, kimchi includes fish source or products, this provides a distinct ‘kimchi’ flavour which is incredibly popular. Being vegetarian, we simply leave this out – our ‘base’ ingredients are:
- Salt – 3 tablespoons
- Cabbage- 2kg (any type, but chinese cabbage is usually the most desired for kim chi)
- Ginger (grated)
- garlic (however much you’d like)
- chilli (fresh is best, but dried flakes or powder is also great -use as much as you like
- carrot (we like ours chunky, but you can grate or dice it if you prefer) – use as much as you like
- **Usually I’ll also add some daikon radish (or other types of radish), but we didn’t have any ready in the garden this time round.
Sometimes we’ll also add additional flavours including mustard seeds, dill seeds, bay leaves – anything that takes our fancy. But we always, always have the above ingredients to form the foundation taste.
The first step is to roughly chop your cabbage into large chunks. Of course, if you prefer, you can dice it finely – it’s all up to your personal preference.
Place it in a large bowl and add the salt, massaging it roughly with your hands to make sure it’s nicely integrated.
Leave it on your kitchen bench over night to let it ‘sweat’, in the morning you’ll see a nice puddle of brine (salty water) has formed at the bottom. Keep all of this for the following step.
The brine ‘puddle’
Chop up all your other ingredients and mix them through your cabbage/brine mix so they’re beautifully integrated.
Gradually pack your fermentation vessel* with your mix, packing it down as you go. This is an important detail as you need to:
(a) Remove any air pockets, and
(b) Squeeze the brine out of the cabbage so it covers the entire mix.
*We happen to have recently purchased a crock pot from local potters, Zsolt Faludi and Nanna Bayer. Until up last month, we simply used glass jars to make all our kimchi and sauerkraut in – which are more than fine for the task. It was just a bit of a life dream to get a large crock pot (this one’s 4 litres). We like some of its design features which include a large ‘lip’ to catch the sometimes overflowing brine and the purpose made clay weights that fit nicely inside the pot to keep the mix down and the brine covering it.
Other options to use for a weight are a small plate or a whole cabbage leaf with a clean stone or glass jar of water on top to hold it down.
After 24 hours the brine will have risen above your weight and started to bubble (as you can see in our photo below right). This is what you’re looking for – the bubbles tell you the fermentation process is well under way. Your kitchen will also smell like kimchi – aka delicious.
Check your kimchi once-twice daily to make sure the brine stays above the weight, if it isn’t either press it down until the brine rises up, or add a small amount of de-chlorinated water. After 2-3 days start tasting it until you’re happy with the flavour. If you like strong kimchi, leave it for longer, if you prefer a more mild taste you might stop the process after a few days. The speed of which your kimchi ferments also depends on your climate, the hotter your climate, the quicker the fermentation process.
How do you “stop” it? Once you’re happy with the flavour, decant it into some small glass jars (or leave it in the jar it’s in), screw the lid on and place it in the fridge or cool pantry. The cold will ‘stop’ the fermentation process, pausing it so you can enjoy the flavour. Of course, nothing ever really stops and it will still mature very, very slowly in the fridge. It will last for months in your fridge, so you can eat through it at your own pace.
- Get to know Sandor Katz’s and his work.
- This November 26th (2016), we’re running our annual Fermentation Fest where we’ll teach you how to make your own kimchi, tempeh, yoghurt and so much more. CLICK HERE for more information and to register.
- We make our own eduction tea towels – including one about how to make sauerkraut – you can check it out HERE.
- You can contact Zsolt Faludi and Nanna Bayer to order your own crock pot (and other great fermenting vessels) here: firstname.lastname@example.org.