Monday, January 30, 2012

Kimchi- Fermented and Pickled

Wow, has it really been that long since I canned anything? I guess my canning cupboard is looking pretty bare.. Hopefully I'll be able to replenish my supplies before I've got a new baby in the house.

Luckily, my awesome in-laws gave us this Perfect Pickler for Christmas this year, that has inspired me to get back on track with my hobby of jarring foods. It's also exciting for me to be learning something new- the process of fermentation. This little gadget couldn't make it any easier and more fun!

 I began with the recipe for kimchi from the Perfect Pickler website, which you can find here. But, to be honest, this recipe doesn't seem to me nearly as flavorful as it should be, and it made waaay more than one jar (I only have one Perfect Pickler). With the remainder, I added tons more garlic, ginger, sambal, and even two ghost peppers that we had lying around. Unfortunately, when I went to my herb garden for scallions, they were all dried up, so if you make this, you may want to add a few sliced scallions to the recipe.

1 head Napa Cabbage, cut into 1" squares
1 lb. daikon radish, half-mooned and very thinly sliced
1 head garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 cup grated ginger root
1/4 cup sambal (more or less, to taste)
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp fish sauce

2 cups water
2 cups white vinegar
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 Tbsp sea salt

4 sanitized pint jars, lids and rings

In a large mixing bowl, toss cabbage, daikon, garlic, ginger, sambal, sugar and fish sauce. In a medium pot, bring water, vinegars and salt to a boil. Pack cabbage into jars and top with brine. Attach lids and rings and process for 10 minutes.

The canned kimchi is definitely going to be wicked-hot, and garnishing all sorts of food like pho (and probably eaten as a snack in itself). I am, however, skeptical about the fermented kimchi. The recipe didn't seem authentic enough to me, and time will tell how much of a fan I am of fermented foods. I'll be sure to post back in a few days to let you know how it turns out!

*Update (1/11/12): The fermented kimchi stayed in the cabinet for 4 days before we tasted it. It had a perfect sourness, however, lacked spiciness and overall flavor. When I make it again I will definitely douse the cabbage in much more chili paste, ginger and garlic. The pickled kimchi is quite good, but more vinegary than a traditional kimchi. The upside of this method is that it can be made in large batches, and kept in the pantry for long periods of time. In the future I will be refining both methods, for they both taste great and will have their own place in our dishes.