So I made kimchi. I started October 20th, and left it for about a month and a half to ferment on my counter. I used tips from Well Preserved (LOVE this site!) and (mostly) followed the recipe from Tigress's Kimchi Primer. I decreased the proportions, and used what I had on hand. This meant white cabbage instead of savoy or napa, white radishes instead of daikon, and some carrot. I also added scallions, ginger, garlic, and Korean chili powder. There is a bit of a discrepancy between the salt:water brine ratios used by Tigress (1/4 cup salt - approx. 60 ml - to 1 quart - or 4 cups - water) and Joel (6.5 tbsps - approx. 90 ml to 3 quarts water) at Well Preserved . I usually trust Joel on all issues preserving related, but I figured I would follow Tigress's recipe since I was using her procedure. If anything it should just mean the higher salt:water ratio would make my kimchi saltier and take longer to ferment.
I'm not sure why Tigress advocates a two day process, but I did as well, and I'm pleased with the results. I left the water to sit overnight (for the chlorine to evaporate) then mixed the brine. A good way to do this is to bring a small amount of the water to a boil, add the salt to dissolve, then add the remaining reserved cool water to bring it back down to room temperature. I covered the prepared vegetables (thinly sliced for the roots, large squares for the cabbage) with the brine overnight. The next day drain the vegetables, reserving the brine, add the aromatics, then pack into jars/fermenting crocks/bowls and cover with brine. The important thing is to keep everything submerged. This prevents air contact, creating an anaerobic environment which prevents "bad" bacteria from growing. The salt content prevents bad anaerobic bacteria (such as botulism) from forming before the lactobacteria start creating an acidic environment. Tigress says that as long as you stir once a day, pushing anything floating back into the brine, you should be ok. I don't have a crock so I used a deep bowl, with another smaller bowl set on top to keep things from floating too much. Over this I placed a clean kitchen towel. I stirred every day. For about a month. Then I transferred the kimchi into a large swing lid jar, sealed it and left it on the counter for another 2 weeks. I still stirred everyday, and by this point (end of November) it was quite cold in my kitchen, but this is when I started to see the white scum (a harmless yeast) forming on top sometimes. I just scooped it and any affected vegetables out. I also tasted the kimchi every few days to see whether it had my desired level of sourness. At first it was very salty, but over time this decreased as fermentation progressed. When it was to my taste, I put it in the fridge.
I did find I needed to add more Korean chili powder (probably at least 2 tbsps more, in addition to the 2 tbsps I started with) and its still wasn't spicy. Then I added some brine from my fermented hot peppers, and it still was not really spicy enough. Overall however, I was very happy with the results, and would follow the same process again. It was easy, low maintenance, and has given me a food that helps build healthy gut bacteria. I've been meaning to post about the process, but I haven't really used the kimchi yet, other than stealing a few little pieces once in awhile, something I did more often when it was on the counter instead of tucked away in the fridge. But I've had a recipe in mind for awhile and the other night I finally actually cooked it. And it was delicious! And the most exciting part is I cooked it in the "new" cast iron pan I got for Christmas, that my mother found at a garage sale!!! I got some nice action shots and now I'm finally motivated to post about it.
Orangette's Kimchi Fried Rice
I, naturally, made some changes, although slight. I cooked a bunch of brown basmati rice a couple of days before, so I had that, but only about 2-3 cups leftover. I still used 4 pieces of bacon though lol. And maybe 1.5 cups of kimchi (which I do wish was spicier). Next time I would reduce the amount of bacon if I was reducing the rest because it was a bit overpowering and I really wanted funky kimchi taste.
I also added some diced carrots, and scrambled an or two egg on one side of the pan after adding the kimchi and letting that brown. One of my foodie weaknesses is an aversion to runny yolk (I know, I know!) and I like the extra heartiness of the egg in the rice itself.
Since the recipe is already linked, I'll just say the process I used:
Add bacon lardons (quite uncouth ones I must say) to cold pan and slowly bring to medium heat. Once this is mostly crisp add 1 diced carrot, cook another minute or two, then the kimchi. Let this wilt a bit and brown. Push everything over to one side (my pan is large enough to do so) and add the beaten egg. Once this is mostly set, break it up and add the rice. Turn up the heat, and cook, pushing down on the rice, until it is brown and crispy. Since it was the first time using a cast iron pan I hadn't seasoned myself, I wasn't sure how it would work. Molly says hers usually sticks, but not to use a non-stick because of the high heat. Mine turned out awesome. I took the time to comment on Molly's post before digging in, but the boy, who normally waits, said "no way, I'm eating it NOW!"
Next use for my kimchi - either kimchi tofu soup, or trying to recreate a kimchi and mung dal soup I had the only time I was courageous enough to venture out for Korean food.
I'm having some issues with my computer and uploading pictures, so I'm going to post this now, and add them later hopefully *fingers crossed*