Kylee Newton's book "The Modern Preserver" brings the amazing flavors of dishes you might only eat in a restaurant and makes them accessible right at home. She writes, "Korean-fermented vegetables, known as kimchi, are generally served as an accompaniment to a variety of traditional Korean meat, fish, and vegetable dishes. Like sauerkraut, kimchi is thought to have health-giving properties because of its combination of raw super-food vegetables and the “good” bacteria produced during fermentation. More and more people are experimenting with making kimchi these days and you’re as likely to find it in a street food wrap or a burger as you would served alongside traditional Korean fare."
4 cups water
4 tbsp sea salt
1 firm cabbage (napa is traditional)
1 small onion
2 garlic cloves
2-inch piece fresh ginger
1 tbsp gochugaru powder or
1 tbsp sea salt (optional)
1. Mix together the water and salt until the salt dissolves.
2. Coarsely chop the cabbage. Peel the carrots and daikon and slice into fine discs using a mandoline, or make 2-inch-long ribbons using a vegetable peeler.
3. Put the vegetables in a large bowl and cover in the salted brine.
4. Soak for 8–24 hours, making sure the vegetables are completely covered with the liquid and put a plate on top of them to weigh the mixture down.
5. Peel and dice the onion, garlic, ginger, and shallots, then put the onion, garlic, and ginger into a food processor or a mortar and pestle and blend/bash into a paste.
6. Put the paste into a bowl and stir through the gochugaru powder and shallots.
7. Drain the vegetables, reserving the brine. Taste the vegetables for saltiness. If they are too salty, rinse them with cold water; if they are not salty enough, mix through some extra sea salt.
8. Combine the vegetables with the paste, mixing them well to ensure that they are evenly coated.
9. Gently squeeze the vegetables with your hands. This bruises the cell walls and helps release their juices.
10. Pack the mixture tightly into the bottom of a 2.5–3 liter glass jar or ceramic pot, gently pushing down with your fist to release more juice until it is submerged in its own liquid.
11. If necessary, add some of the reserved brine just to cover.
12. Scrape down and clean the inside of the jar with a spatula, then weigh the mixture down with a flat plate that fits inside the jar, with a weight on top (like a smaller jar filled with water and sealed).
13. Cover the jar with a muslin square or tea towel so it can breathe, and secure.
14. Leave to ferment in a warm place at around 68–77 degrees. If it’s cooler, then it will just take longer.
15. Check and taste daily, making sure the vegetables are always submerged in the brine.
16. Depending on your taste and the room temperature, this can take around 3–14 days.
17. It’s ready when it tastes sour and tangy.
18. Pack tightly into warm, dry sterilized jars leaving a 1/4 inch gap between the top of the vegetables and the rim and seal.
Cook's Notes: Keeps for up to 6–8 months unopened in a cool, dark cupboard. Once opened, keep in the fridge and eat within 4–6 weeks.
Kimchi can take a few goes to get it right. My tips are:
Use sea salt that is unrefined because iodized salt will prevent your vegetables from fermenting.
Use a large glass jar with a wide opening or a ceramic fermentation pot, so the high salt content won’t eat away at the vessel.
Use a hard cabbage that won’t turn to mush.
Go easy on the aromatics such as garlic, onion, and ginger because these flavors increase during fermentation.
Available at Amazon. Excerpted from "The Modern Preserver" by Kylee Newton (Countryman Press 2016).