Better late and never! The latest freezing temperature, I hope, will do some justice to this post. But then again, there isn’t a right time for fermentation obsession, is there?
I took advantage of the cold weather with drizzles and gutsy wind, I busied myself with much delayed winter chores. But before I begin, I send out my apology for not being able to do the annual kimchi workshop, nor any Korean food events this winter. But I certainly will this year!
I hope that you still made your favourite kimchi to store away for months to come.
On my part, so caught up between two jobs, I was getting anxious that I might not be able to make any kimchi myself. The bigger issue than time, though, was not finding Napa cabbages in Canakkale!
As a desperate resort to stock some fermented goodies, I made kimchi with Brussels sprouts and mustard greens, called ‘hardal otu‘ in Turkish.
There are three things that give me a sense of security, and they are Kimchi/Cheese/Wine. Neither a man nor money; as long as you have kimchi in your fridge, all others will follow. How does it work? I don’t know.
The other day, the title on The Food Programme was Comfort food for Dark days. I thought about my comfort food, of course, while eating kimchi fried rice. As much as I’d like to say I have a French palate, I must say how much comforting the simple fried rice is to me.
Is it because of the flavours or is it the ‘La madeleine de Proust‘ effect? The memory of cooking and eating it with my 3 other sisters when mum wasn’t around… the happy moment.
Anyway, I felt secure when I made some kimchi out of alternative ingredients such as Brussels sprouts and mustard greens.
Since I didn’t do the workshop, I’m going to give away some of the tips shared at the workshop.
My workshop involves a rundown of the basics of fermenting vegetables, and I take sauerkraut and Brussels sprouts as an example. Sauerkraut is straightforward but Brussels sprouts need some extra attention.
The Brussels sprout, healthy but loathed by many, is an excellent vegetable to ferment, especially in a kimchi style.
Why would you chop up this cute little cabbages, which are so lovely to look at?
It might take longer to brine but it’s so worth the patience. The whole B.sprout is just for pressing down to keep them submerged. You can also use a halved onion as seen in other jars above.
Voila, after 4 weeks, it turned into a delectable treat, tangy and a touch of spiciness. Two weeks later, it will be just perfect.
Just for the purpose of alternating tastes, for a clean taste to be precise, I like using shiitake mushroom and dashi(kelp) broth for a certain type of vegetables. However, feel free to use fish sauce, anchovy sauce or anything you have handy.
This type of kimchi has more liquid and is non-or less spicy. Pureed onion and apple is also strained to keep the liquid clean, and garlic is added into the liquid as a whole or in half.
Another minor details are the yin-yang and aesthetic combination: carrots for Brussels sprouts and radish for mustard greens.
You can make it with some other wild greens such as wild radish leaf kimchi, which surprised everyone at the last workshop, with its tangy savoury flavours. I strongly recommend you make this with some wild plants now while they are abundant at weekly farmers’ markets.
Not to mention, the superstar of Kimchi, too! I felt really happy that I’d managed to get hold of Napa cabbages and made kimchi two weeks ago!
So I have fermented veggie condiments in various shapes, colours and flavours. Small things that make life happy…
I made two packets (about 1kg), so you can divide the measurement in half, but why not make a big batch and share the love?
Ah, why do they have the cling film under the lids, you ask? It has two purposes: one, it keeps the smell staining the lid, and two, it helps to seal more tightly.
Here is the ultimate recipe for the most delicious kimchi-style fermented vegetables. If you have any questions regarding the recipe, please feel free to drop me a message in the comment!
Fermented Brussels Sprouts Kimchi
2 pounds Brussels sprouts, halved
3 cups spring or filtered water
4 Tbsp course sea salt
1/2 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, halved or quartered
1 Tbsp to 1/2 cup chilli flakes (gochugaru), depending on your taste
A small piece of ginger(optional)
2 spring onions, cut into strips
1 carrot, grated
3 cups shiitake, kelp broth(or 2 Tbsp fish sauce dilluted in 3 cups spring water)
1 Tbsp rice flour*
1 cup water
4 small or 3 big glass jars, sterilised
1. Trim any damaged outer leaves and cut them in half. In a bowl, make salt brine and toss the cut B.sprouts and let it sit for 2-3 hours until wilted slightly. You’ll not rinse them as opposed to normal kimchi.
*Keep one or two big Brussels sprouts to use for weighing down the veggies to submerge in the liquid. You can use halved onions as well.
2. In the meantime, make the broth and rice porridge. For the broth, in a small pot, boil 4 cups of water with 2-3 pieces of shiitake and 1 big or 2 small pieces of kelp for 20 mins. It’ll be reduced to approx. 3 cups. For the rice porridge, add the flour into water and bring it to simmer till it’s thickened to glue consistency. Let it cool.
3. In a food processor, puree the onion and pear.
4. Add the broth and rice porridge into the bowl of B.sprouts, and strain in the onion pear puree along with the chill flakes.
5. Add in the carrot, spring onion, garlic and ginger slices, and toss it all thoroughly.
6. Divide the veggies into prepared jars, pressing them down to minimise the air gaps but leaving 2 inch head-space. Top up with the remaining juice from the bowl.
7. Press the veggies down as much as you can to submerge them into the liquid, and add more filtered water if necessary. Place the onion or B,sprout or a weight stone and close the lid, not too tightly at this point.
8. Leave the jars at room temperature for 3-4 days, preferably in a dark place, and taste it if it’s turn slight tangy. If so, close the lid tightly and continue fermenting it in the fridge for 4-6 weeks.