Monday, January 10, 2011

Getting out of a CSA pickle: Kimchi

Two of the vegetables from this past week's produce share--Napa cabbage and Daikon radishes--are native to Asia. These vegetables might be the ones you take home and leave in your fridge for awhile, not sure what to do. They make a Kentucky cook pause and think for a bit.

For Matt, who works in the warehouse at Grasshoppers, it was obvious what he'd be making if those two ingredients were in his share. At his home, Matt likes to use both cabbage and radishes to make kimchi, a traditional fermented Korean dish.

Kimchi has some great health benefits. Like sauerkraut, kimchi contains live, active bacteria that are beneficial to your digestive system. Matt owns a microscope and can attest to the live bacteria in his own homemade kimchi.

You might consider trying the following kimchi recipe with some of the produce from your share. The recipe is how Matt makes it, but there are other ways it can be done. Alternative main ingredients are cucumber and green onion, depending on what's in season.

Matt's Traditional Korean Kimchi
Napa cabbage, chopped
Daikon radish, chopped
a number of mason jars
sea salt
garlic, minced
fresh ginger, minced
onions, chopped
red chili flakes

In a colander, cover chopped cabbage and radishes with sea salt. Let sit 2 hours.

Make a brine by dissolving 1 tbsp. sea salt to 1 cup water. Make as little or as much brine as you want jars of kimchi.

Rinse cabbage and radishes of excess salt. Place cabbage and radishes into a mason jar, leaving 1.5 inches at the top of the jar to allow the vegetables to expand during fermentation. Add garlic, ginger, onions, and chili flakes (less if you want less spice). Pour the brine into the jar so that it just covers the vegetables. Be sure to press the vegetables down to get rid of any air bubbles.

Place the jar in a safe spot where it can sit for two days. Place a plastic bag a quarter-filled with brine inside the jar, overtop the vegetables to keep them compressed. Occasionally press down on the vegetables as the kimchi expands.

Place the lid on the jar and let sit for a week, depending on how fermented you like your kimchi. The process will take longer in the winter, up to two weeks.

Consider this a foot in the door to canning, if you've never done it before, or just a great way to preserve and enjoy your winter produce.