Dearie me. I was once more beset by cabbages.
Multiple heads of the green stuff were inhabiting my kitchen and wearing a look that said if I didn’t do something soon, their mate turnip would show up and then there’d be real trouble. This time, however, I would take charge of the situation. Nothing like a bit of fermentation to show those brassicas just who was boss. Yes indeed, the time had come to make kimchi.
Now, kimchi is really an umbrella term for the Korean approach to preserving raw vegetables. They’re seasoned in various ways, fermented and then (as I had seen at first hand on a visit to Seoul) eaten with just about everything. Lots of vegetables get the kimchi treatment but cabbage is probably the vegetable most commonly associated with it.
Traditionally, vegetables for kimchi were packed into large earthenware pots and then buried in the ground while they fermented over the winter months. I had no plans to bury anything as part of the war on cabbages and, luckily, there would be no need to go to that extreme. While foraging around the internet, I found that David Lebovitz, he of all things chocolate and ice-creamy, had dabbled here and there with making kimchi. Using his later version as a guide, I launched my cabbage offensive and a mighty successful campaign it was too.
What I produced may not have been authentically Korean – I didn’t have the Korean chili pastes and powders, so I used harissa instead – but, with its nice chili/gingery bite, I have had no problem
eating devouring vast quantities of this with all manner of things. With eggs, with rice, with noodles, with itself. Not with potatoes, though. Well, not yet. It’s only a matter of time, however, because when next I am beset by cabbages, I will be making this again.
Kimchi a la Spud
This was adapted from the David Lebovitz formula posted here, which, in turn, was based on Alex Ong’s version here. My version involved using a different kind of cabbage, adding more ginger and using harissa as a substitute for Korean chili paste, of which I had none. It is thus not an authentically Korean preparation, but it’s my kind of kimchi all the same!
- Makes one 750ml jar containing a tasty solution to the problem of excess cabbage & takes approx. 3 days for prep and initial fermentation, and about another 4 days before you can start using the kimchi
- 1 head cabbage- typically kimchi recipes specify chinese or napa cabbage but I used a head of savoy cabbage, weighing about 800g
- 2 tblsp coarse non-iodized salt
- 80ml white rice vinegar
- 3 tblsp harissa paste
- 1 tblsp finely minced garlic
- 1 tblsp finely minced fresh root ginger
- 4 spring onions, sliced in 5cm batons (white + green parts)
You’ll also need:
- A colander and large plastic, glass or ceramic bowl
- An airtight preserving jar (or jars), about 750ml capacity
- Remove any tough outer leaves from the cabbage, slice in half lengthways and remove the core.
- Slice the cabbage into bitesize pieces, approx. 5cm x 5cm each.
- Toss the cabbage pieces in a large bowl with the salt, then place in a colander and sit this over a bowl or sink. Cover with a plate and weight it down.
- Leave for 24 hours, at the end of which a small amount of water will have collected underneath the colander.
- Combine the rice vinegar, harissa, garlic and ginger in a large glass, ceramic or plastic bowl. I let this stand for a few hours.
- Taking the cabbage in small handfuls, squeeze it well to remove any excess water and add to the chili mixture, stirring to coat.
- Add the spring onions and stir to coat.
- Pack the mixture tightly into the preserving jar(s). Leave to stand at room temperature for 48 hours, while the fermentation gets underway. Chill for about another 4 days before using.
- It’s generally recommended to use the kimchi within about 3 weeks. Mine won’t last anywhere near that long.
- I’d like to try this with traditional Korean chili, substituting 3 tblsp of Korean chili paste (gochujang) plus 2 tblsp of coarse Korean chili powder (gokchu garu) for the harissa.