Kimchi-Love here, maybe addictive passion, but I am not alone. Variations are fun and endless and you will be rewarded for experimenting with what you have.
And Kimchi is easy– basically– you salt your greens and vegetables (and I often use fruit), and leave them to sit and soften. Then rinse and dry them. Then make your paste with chilli powder, garlic, grated ginger, and fish sauce or soy sauce or tamari, toasted sesame seeds, a little sugar — this is the way I’ve settled into myself, though of course there are other modes. Then you rub the paste on the veg, and cram it all into appropriate-size vessels. In the few days that follow, the liquid level rises and falls, and can ooze out of lids, so I always place my jars in small bowls. Or rather, my husband does this remedially because I’ve forgotten to do so.
You can find usual proportions on this Plum Kimchi recipe though I still think the Rhubarb Kimchi was my best yet. I seem to use tamari more often these days as I like to be able to share kimchi with all the vegans in my life, though I do prefer that fishy umami thing, But not a biggy….
Your base ingredients (in this case I mean the bulk in volume) can be what you want, and so can your “decorations.” I always try to stress this point.
So using examples from the three batches of kimchi I’ve made this week (all taking very little time really):
Pointed Cabbages with slivers of swede (rutabaga), lots of extra ginger and fresh red chilis, and onion seeds (kalonji) because I love the pungency and slight bitterness. This was my first practice just using my hands rather than measuring cups.
Number 2: My close friend Vicky’s palm-like fronds of kale, with slivers of pointed cabbage, carrots, apples, some bok choi that had been going double-sticker reduced, spring onion tops from my garden, both white and black sesame seeds, and fresh sweet red peppers (capsicums) (well, the bits around the rotting bits that I carefully excised) pureed into the spicy mix. This time I used some Turkish chilli powder from a shop in Birmingham because I’m feeling protective of the precious Korean stuff that is more expensive and harder to find. Oh I added a little of the Nettle Salt from last year I’m trying to use up for the year.
(I don’t personally really like the intensity of kale (or other dark greens) in a sauerkraut, so disguised in all the garlicky gingery spicy intensity of kimchi is the way I choose to ferment it.)
And then No. 3. Beetroot. I couldn’t resist the idea of making a beetroot “pickle” with the flavours of kimchi. Always take care when fermenting beets not to cut or shred them too finely, or things go wrong due to all the sugars in this root. I did centimetre-sized cubes, approximately, along with a few julienned carrots, some fresh slivered red chilis, and slivers of lemon peel, juice of which lemon went into my paste. If I’d had the leaves and they’d been fresh, I would have chopped and added them, perhaps salting and rinsing first. I didn’t add sugar this time as the beets are so sweet. Though it seemed dry at first and I did then add, perhaps unnecessarily but deliciously, the juice of a small orange. The colour of this kimchi (taking the liberty of calling it this) is lush and deep and sexy. This is a great pickle, one that I think will retain a nice crunch.I can’t wait to taste it as it evolves. And it feels a little like I’ve taken beetroot on a little vacation from its quotidian habits. It will make love to a piece of steamed fish on a bed of brown rice.
PS– I now seem to be making Scrap Kvass, using peels of beetroots when I’m too lazy to peel precisely and bits of the good flesh remain on the skin. This is especially true when beets get old, they get harder to peel. I also throw in carrot peels, bits of celery, parsley stalks, nettles, and whatever else. Then a little salt. Feels like an alternative thing to vegetable stock for soups, this kvass, as a great use for what might get prematurely composted.