I went to Nance Klehm’s pickling workshop last Sunday and came home with a briny mason jar stuffed to the brim with kimchi. It burbled away in a cupboard, next to the coffee cups, for five days, and when it was done it was tart and tangy and very garlicky, just like I like it–though a little more ginger wouldn’t have hurt. Best of all, it was easy as pie. Easier than pie, actually. Here’s how to make your own.
- Roughly chop up a bunch of veggies, your choice. We used Napa cabbage, bok choy, daikon, carrots, green onions, whole garlic cloves, and a sprinkling of burdock and dandelion root (mmm, fiber).
- Crush a bunch of dried red chiles; do the same to more garlic cloves–a handful, or as many as you think you can handle.
- Peel and finely shred a knob of ginger.
- Mix everything together in a bowl, adjusting the recipe to taste. If you don’t like daikon, or dandelion, don’t use it.
- Pulverize a cup or so of sea salt with a mortar and pestle. Then dilute the salt in purified water until the water is saturated or, in Nance’s words, “the salt falls out.”
- Stuff jars with veggies, leaving an inch or so at the top.
- Pour brine over veg.
That’s it. The important thing to remember is to make sure the vegetables are always submerged in the brine while they ferment. Otherwise, they’ll get funky and mold. You can do this by just pushing the stuff down by hand every day, or by creating a “water bladder” out of a baggie and a rubber band. Fill the baggie with a bit of water (you’ll have to eyeball it), tie it up into a balloon with the rubber band, and plop it in the top of the jar. Leave the concoction open to the air–don’t put the lid on–for at least three days, then taste. If it’s not done yet, give it a couple more days, then close it up and refrigerate. Voila–kimchi.