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Friday, December 27, 2013

Cobbled-together Kimchi

Farmers Market Napa and Home-grown Daikon Greens

Late in the Fall, I finally got around to a couple of things. One was admitting that the daikon I planted was never going to make roots. Most of the summer planting bolted almost immediately, and the few plants that didn't never managed more than cracked, deformed, and undersized chunks underground. The second thing was realizing that I had a head and a half of napa cabbage yet un-used in the fridge.

So, kimchi.

There are plenty of recipes online, a suprising number of which make no sense. Some, because they are in Korean, which I do not read. Others, because they are in American, and are fake or wrong.

So I searched some more, and dredged up old emailed advice from a Korean friend of an Irish friend. This boiled down to: sweet rice flour is a good aid to fermentation, and you should use the greens you have.

Rinsing away the salt
So I stripped the greens off the straggling remnant of my failed daikon crop, a couple of stray mustard plants, and cut up the napa cabbage, then tossed it with kosher salt. Pressed out the liquid and rinsed repeatedly to get rid of (most of) the salt.

And so it begins.
Then I chopped in a mix of home-grown garlic and chilis (cayenne-ish, although NW peppers never seem to get as hot, and these were old), some store-bought dried ancho chilis (with their tobacco-raisin dimensions), and...maybe that's it. Except for the rice flour porridge, which I'm guessing is food to kick-start the microbes. Mexican anchos, Japanese rice flour, and bastard mustard may not be authentically Korean (also, I guess people used to fermenting in an onggi might look askance at my salvaged crock-pot), but somehow I imagined that using what was handy and seasonal would be acceptable to a fair proportion of Korean grandmothers, so I went with it.

The non-photogenic end result.

And before too long, I had the above. Not tongue-blisteringly hot, and oddly smoky due to the anchos, but tangy and tasty. These greens will not go bad, or be wasted. It's not bad, and that is good. It's probably even good for me. Hope so, because I've got a half gallon of the stuff. 

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