I have been fascinated with naturally fermented foods for years…not only are they extremely good for you, they basically make themselves…you simply provide the right conditions. While some of these foods may be an acquired taste, once you have them they are like a drug…truly addicting. Anyhow, I’ve been going back-and-forth whether or not I was going to order a crock from Amazon that was made specifically for fermenting vegetables (click here to see it), but very recently I discovered they are available in my home city…and for nearly half the price (click here to see it). Very exciting. For years I’ve made fermented vegetables in plastic buckets…and sometimes air will get in and ruin the ferment. What’s unique about these crocks is not only do they come fitted with a stone that fits perfectly as a weight, they also have a water “air lock” which lets gasses out as it ferments but does not let anything in (see below).
Anyhow, my first order of business, after washing the new crock, was to begin a ferment. The easiest and probably the most universal vegetable ferment is cabbage, as in sauerkraut (sour cabbage), but one of my favorite variations is the spicy Korean version called Kim-Chi. And the reason I titled this post a “sort of” kim-chi is because I did not have the traditional Napa cabbage; I used ordinary green cabbage instead. I’ve made it using this cabbage before and the results are still outstanding. Another thing I did a little differently was make a puree/brine out of salt water, habanero chilies, ginger, and garlic, which I added to the cabbage (yow! It’s already spicy…but man is it good). Now the waiting is the hardest part. Here it is in pictures; a recipe follows. If you’d like to learn more about fermented foods–their health benefits and how to make them (and with additional recipes)–click here or here. If you’d like to see more of my adventures (experiments) in fermentation, click here. And if you are looking for a good book on the subject, I recommend this one.
1 head Napa cabbage, cut into two-inch pieces
1 small daikon, grated
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small piece ginger, minced
1 small onion, minced
2 tablespoons chili paste
1 tablespoon sugar
Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl. Transfer to a container that is wide enough to fit a few small plates inside it. Press the cabbage down and weight it with plates. Cover the container and leave at room temperature. After a day it should release enough liquid that it is submerged, if not, add a little salted water. After about 2 days small bubbles will appear, after about a week or so it will smell and taste distinctively sour. Taste it as often as you like and when the flavor is to your liking transfer the container to the refrigerator to slow its fermentation.