I have mentioned before the book “wild fermentation” by Sandor Ellix Katz. (Yep, it’s in lower case.) Katz not only has a wonderful name, he has wonderful ideas. I have used his basic plan for making both kimchi and sauerkraut several times. Each dish is distinctly the best homemade version of itself I’ve ever had. The process is extraordinarily simple, though it does require a few minutes per day during the curing period.
Let’s start with the kimchi (pictured above). You can use bok choy or napa cabbage or savoy cabbage. Of course the standard way of making sauerkraut would be to use regular green cabbage. In this case I used savoy for both kimchi and sauerkraut. The amounts of stuff you use is entirely up to you. I can never get daikon radish at our local Safeway, so I substitute some standard red radishes.
Peter had the bright idea of tossing in some pickled garlic which he bought the other day. Neither of us had tasted it before. It’s meant to be used as a condiment or just noshed right out of the jar. Superb!
I didn’t bother taking a pic of the sauerkraut – it looks a lot like the kimchi but without the colorful veggie additions.
½ large head savoy cabbage
2 cups brine
2 tbsp radishes, grated
2 tbsp carrot, grated
2 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
2 large cloves garlic, minced or pressed
red pepper flakes to taste
1 tbsp pickled garlic, minced or pressed
Slice the cabbage across into narrow strips. Put it in a non-reactive container (I used a soufflé dish.)
Make the brine by dissolving 2 tbsp kosher salt in 2 cups water. Pour it over the cabbage. Press cabbage down with your (clean) hands. Weight it. I couldn’t find anything quite suitable until I got the idea to fill a 1 gallon freezer bag with enough water so that it spreads itself out, completely covering the surface of the nascent kimchi.
Put the kimchi in a relatively warm place. For me that’s just on the dining room table. After 24 hours drain off the brine. Taste the cabbage. If too salty, rinse it just slightly.
Add the remaining ingredients, mix together thoroughly and press back down into the bowl. If necessary add back a little of the brine so there is liquid just over the surface of the kimchi. Re-weight it and let it sit for 4-6 days, redistributing it once a day. Then refrigerate it. It will keep a long time and in the chill of the fridge will only continue fermenting ever so slowly.
½ large head savoy cabbage
Slice the cabbage across into very thin strips. Layer it into a non-reactive container adding sprinkles of salt to each layer. Press it down firmly with your hands. Weight it with a water-filled freezer bag and let it sit for 1 or 2 weeks, redistributing it once a day as with the kimchi.
If, after the first 24 hours, it hasn’t exuding enough water to cover it, add a little weak brine just to cover.
I find that it is ready to eat (according to my taste) after 4-5 days, at which point into the fridge it goes.
My best word to describe the flavor the savoy cabbage brings to the party is "umami."