There’s something Japan’s favourite fermented foodstuffs have in common, and you may not have heard of it before.
People in Asia have been Pickling for years, kimchi alone is referenced as far back as 37 B.C!
There’s a raft of different techniques and recipes out there, so we’ve compiled some helpful tips so you make sure you pickle like a pro.
Use what’s in season
Most recipes call for one type of veg – kim chi most famously uses cabbage – but you can use all different types of depending on what’s in season. Check with your greengrocer for what veggies are ripe.
Use different flavour and ingredient combinations
At the end of the day, you’ll be eating what you pickle, so always adapt recipes to suit your palette.
Too much salt, and you’ll kill off all the good microbes that make pickled veggies so healthy. Too little salt, and your veggies will rot. Experiment a bit to find what works for you.
Don’t leave any air pockets in your pickling container, pack everything in as tightly as possible. Unwanted air can result in bad bacteria, poorly seasoned veggies and even off-tasting food.
While warmer temperatures can jump start the fermentation process, keep your veggies out of direct sunlight and store in a cool spot (best in the fridge) after a couple of days to slow down the fermentation and help your pickling work nice and slowly.
You might want to open up your container and check on your veggies, but don’t! The more air you introduce, the more likely you are to negatively affect the flavour of your food.
Like a great wine, the longer you leave your pickled produce, the more complex the flavour will become. Like anything though, experiment until you find a time frame that produces the flavours you love.
Now that you understand the process a bit better, we’ve linked some of our favourite pickled recipes for you to try out.
- 4 heads of medium cabbage
- 1/2 – 1 salt
- 2 cups daikon, cut into matchsticks
- 1 cup carrot, cut into matchsticks
- 10 stems green onions, chopped
- 24 medium garlic cloves (about ½ cup minced garlic)
- 1 1-inch chunk ginger (about 2 teaspoons minced ginger)
- 1 medium white onion
For the kimchi paste:
- 2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons sweet rice flour(glutinous rice flour)
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
Seasonings and spices:
- ½ cup fish sauce
- 1/4 cup dried mini shrimp or smoked sardines, optional
- 1 ½ – 2 cups Korean chilli flakes
- Trim the cabbage cores and cut each cabbage in half.
- Make a 2-inch cut through the core of each half of the cabbage. You want the cabbage leaves to be loose but still attached to the core.
- Soak the cabbages in water to get all leaves wet. Discard the water. Wear gloves and rub the salt in between cabbage leaves by lifting up every leaf. Use more salt around the stems where the leaves are thicker.
- Let the cabbages rest for 2 hours to get well salted. The liquid from the cabbages will be extracted and the cabbage will be softened during the salting process. Turn the cabbages over once every 30 minutes.
- After 2 hours, rinse the cabbages well under cold running water. Remove salt and dirt. By now, the cabbages should be soft. Split the halves into quarters along the slits you cut in the first step. Drain the cabbages well. Set aside.
- While the cabbages are salting, make the kimchi paste base. In a medium saucepan, combine water and sweet rice flour. Mix well and let it cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes until the mixture is bubbly. Add sugar and cook for another minute, stirring constantly. Remove the base from heat, pour it into a large mixing bowl and let it cool completely.
- Now, prepare vegetables. Peel daikon and carrots and cut them into thin matchsticks. Set aside. Chop green onions and place them together with the daikon and carrots. Set aside.
- In a food processor, add garlic, ginger, and white onion. Process until the ingredients are very finely chopped and the mixture is almost like a paste.
- Assemble the kimchi paste by adding chopped garlic, ginger and white onion in the base, followed by fish sauce and hot pepper flakes. If you want to add seafood, add it now.
- Mix the mixture well until it turns into a thin paste. Now, add chopped daikon, carrots and green onions. Mix again.
- Time to make the kimchi. Wear gloves and press the cabbage quarters in the kimchi paste, one at a time, spreading some paste on each cabbage leaf. When the cabbage quarter is covered with the kimchi paste, lift it up and fold the leaves towards the core. Place it into containers such as jars and inner pots of crockpots. Repeat this step until all cabbages are handled.
- Cover the kimchi and let it sit in the room temperature for a day or two. It will start fermenting. The warmer and more humid your environment is, the faster the kimchi will ferment.
- After a day or two, press the kimchi with a spoon, if you see bubbles from the top, it means your kimchi is fermented. The kimchi will continue fermenting as time goes on. So storing it in the fridge from this point on will slow down the fermentation process. When ready to enjoy, chop the kimchi and serve.