Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Monday morning, is for kimchi making! (and Tuesday posts are for those who post late about Monday...)

(Yesterday I didn't get to update as promised because I have been busy busy with guests, so please forgive me for this late post.)

As many of you are experiencing, at least down in the South here, it's warmin' up and many of the cold weather plants are BOLTING.

The cilantro's gone to flower (off to become coriander if you so wish), the mustards are sending up stalks too and the corn salad (aka mache) has long gone by the wayside of anything near delicious.

My turnips and radishes have also begun to send up flower stalks and show off a few pretty purple flowers.

A few of those useful for next season's cold planting, but to salvage some for food use, I needed to think quickly about how best to use them.  Unfortunately the husband is not a fan of either of those vegetables and I can't eat them all on my own in enough time especially before it all becomes unpalatable.  So after thinking, thinking and thinking I realized: KIMCHEE!

I can't get the husband to want to eat kimchee either, but at least this will allow me to preserve the vegetables that I can eat it slowly on my own over time.  I thought about searching for some recipes online, but what wouldjaknow, reliable Mother Earth News read my mind in their most recent issue (got a subscription from the in-laws for Christmas).

Spiffy, so now I just needed the veggies...  M.E.N. lists using turnips, radishes (tops if wished), horseradish, garlic, ginger, carrots and scallions in their recipe.  I didn't have too many red radishes, and so I used what I could, the turnips were white Asian ones:

...ones that I had forgotten to thin out and grew a little weird and... obscene:
(sorry about the knife and "surgery" that happened to the turnip guys, don't mean to make you uncomfortable...) 

To make up for the lack of radishes and relatively small amount of turnip-y-ness I used some small Chinese cabbage.  I didn't have 'official' scallions and so I raided some stalks from the Egyptian Walking onion.

My carrots were 2 years in the ground and flowering (and too woody obviously for use).  I've decided to use carrots in the garden now for loosening the soil and when they flower, the umbels of carrots have such tiny flowers that they are good for attracting especially nice pollinators.  It's so cheap to purchase a bag of carrots it's hard for me to justify growing them when I could use the room for other things.

Perhaps I will grow some of those awesome purple or red carrots that I can't find in the stores usually that would make it worthwhile.

After a lot of chopping I finally was ready to brine the veggies in a jar!  As it turned out, the cabbage gave the recipe more heft and caused the recipe to double and I needed to add more brine than it called for.  To make sure that the vegetables become fully preserved, it's suggested to immerse cover (use a plate)or use a plastic water weight (plastic bag full of water here) over the jar of vegetables and brine so that there's no spoilage and contact with air.

After the veggies sit in brine overnight you taste for saltiness level in the morning (which is what I did today, Tuesday morning) and then you add the seasonings.  I would have used horseradish, ginger, garlic and fresh chili peppers grown here, but they were not ready/ in season and I had used all of mine already from last season anyways.

So, alas... note to self to make this recipe again in the winter when all those things are in season in the garden (duh).  (Ooh, then I can have jars and jars and JARS of kimchee!  I wonder if I can, can it so that it doesn't take up room in the fridge... mmm)

We had all these seasonings in the fridge/pantry on hand as we cook Asian-y food often enough, so that was helpful.  I used whole red chilis (though the recipes states powdered Korean chili is fine) and had a mini workout by grating ginger (gotta stay buff somehow!)  Technically you're supposed to make a paste of the rest of the spices/seasonings which I proceeded to do for 2 minutes with a small mortar and pestle of mine, but then gave up and just dumped my relatively finely minced/shredded seasonings in the vegetable and brine mix and decided it would probably be fine.  After stirring everything around well, you cover with a dish or water weight again to begin, FERMENTATION! (a beautiful process that all delicious things in life use: wine, beer, pickles, etc.)

(ta da!  Seasoned kimchee, ready to bum around for a week and get sour!  please note: the stove was just a convenient place to put the jar for the pic.  I found that it leaked some brine after a while when the plastic water bag weight settles a bit.  No actual cooking over a hot stove was done during this mini-project)

The recipe tells me to let the jar go for a week like this and to check on it every day for sourness level and make sure that it's still covered.  Hopefully I don't die of botulism or something... My understanding, like my past failed experience with pickles, is that if the stuff doesn't taste good, you did something wrong, and you need to toss whatever you tried pickling (because why would you want to keep it anyways?)

So, if you don't hear from me after I try this stuff in a week... you'll know the reason.