THE KOREAN FERMENTED CONDIMENT THAT YOU'LL WANT TO PUT ON EVERYTHING
Fermenting is having a resurgence (yay, it’s so fun!) so I asked expert fermenter Sharon Flynn to come over and share a few secrets. First up, kimchi. Warning: it’s addictive!
It wasn’t just a pleasure to spend a day with Sharon Flynn in my kitchen, it was an eye-opening education to the joys of culinary fermentation. We made kimchi, then an egg-free mayonnaise with the kimchi paste (coming soon!), and later amazake (coming soon too!), a fermented rice paste that can be used as a sweetener, a marinade, a base for other preparations and – if you’re me – a midnight snack with raspberries and nuts.
Sharon is an expert but she’s also a generous and encouraging enthusiast. I’m sure you’ll be swept along by her passion just as I am in our videos.
So, what is kimchi? It’s basically a Korean fermented vegetable preparation, usually made with cabbage and chilli, and served at every meal. It’s loved for its health benefits (all those good bacteria make for happy tummies) and also for its multi-dimensional flavours. Kimchi is also a reflection of the season it’s made and the person who’s made it: there are as many different kimchis as there are kimchi makers.
The basic recipe for kimchi is simple – watch the video to get the lowdown. I also heartily encourage you to spend time reading Sharon’s essay/poem/love letter to kimchi below. See more of Sharon at The Fermentary, where you can also buy her fab book.
Makes: about 1 litre.
Time: 10 minutes, plus at least an hour cabbage salting, and around 5 days fermenting
2-3 tablespoons salt
½ cup spring onions, sliced
½ cup daikon, thinly sliced
½ cup carrot, julienned or grated
small bunch mustard greens, optional
1 sliced nashi pear, optional
Gochujang (kimchi sauce)
10-20 garlic cloves, peeled
250 grams fresh ginger, roughly chopped, no need to peel
½ cup gochugaru (Korean chilli powder)
¼ cup good fish sauce (see Tips)
¼ cup raw sugar (see Tips)
¼ cup tamari or light soy sauce
1. Remove outer leaves of wombok if damaged or discoloured. Wash and then slice lengthways into quarters then chop these lengths into bite-sized pieces. Place your sliced wombok into a large bowl (like the Varoma), sprinkle with salt and mix well. Let it sit for a few hours over the sink or even overnight if it’s cool or you’ve room in your refrigerator. A lot of liquid will seep out so put the Varoma over a large bowl or the sink.
While the wombok is draining, make the paste.
Gochujang (kimchi paste)
2. Place ginger, garlic and chilli into mixing bowl. Chop 10 sec/speed 10.
3. Add tamari and fish sauce (you can add it onto the lid while chopping, if you like). Chop for a further 5 sec/speed 10. If desired, scrape down and chop for a further 5 sec/speed 10.
4. Drain the cabbage, add the other vegetables and mix your paste through the vegetables well. You may want to put some gloves on for this, because you really need to get in there and mix it all in and around.
5. You could keep this in the bowl and cover it to ferment, but I prefer to jar it. Push the vegetables down quite firmly with your fist or a tamper. You should easily have enough juice to cover all of the vegetables but you can also weigh them down to keep them under the juice. Make sure you leave ‘head room’ or it will bubble over as it ferments.
6. Leave this on your bench for a few days and it should start to come alive. If you happen to be using an air lock system then you’ll be lucky enough to hear it bubble.
7. Pop it in the fridge after 5 temperate days or 3 hot days. Leave it longer if it’s cool in your house or you like a more mature flavour. You could even put the crock or jar in the fridge to ferment from day one – just leave it in there to ferment for about 3 weeks. If you fridge ferment then you can add less salt.
Add a touch more salt in hot weather.
Add as much chilli as you desire, even doubling the amount if you like it hot. Do what you like.
Make a double portion of the paste if you can be bothered because this is great to either freeze or jar in the fridge for next time, or to add to cucumber pickles, a marinade, dressing or mayonnaise. Egg-free mayo video coming soon!
Fish sauce: make sure it’s REAL by checking the ingredients. There should be only fish (eg. anchovies) and salt.
Sugar: it’s fine to omit this and replace with 1-2 sliced nashi pears.
Buy Sharon’s book, fermenting jars and other fermentogoodies here.
Buy gochugaru (Korean chilli) in Asian grocers or online, for example from Herbies.
This is a wombok.
This is daikon.
This recipe and video teaser was provided to us by our NPN Ambassador, Dani Valent from danivalent.com. For the month of November the full recipe and video will be available here. Read more about Dani below.
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Dani Valent is an award-winning Melbourne writer, eater, traveller and cook with a voracious passion for food, restaurants and Thermomix cooking. She is restaurant critic for the Sunday Age and her popular column has been running for more than a decade. Dani has profiled great chefs, including Heston Blumenthal, Ben Shewry, Shannon Bennett and Yotam Ottolenghi. As a travel writer for Lonely Planet she researched destinations such as New York, Corsica, Puerto Rico and Hong Kong, as well as writing a book about Turkish food.
Inspired by her food and journalism adventures, Dani loves connecting home cooks with great chefs and key recipes from all over the world. Her first two Thermomix cookbooks have been honoured at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. Her third Entertaining book was released in 2017 and is part of her ongoing mission to make it easy, achievable and stress-free for people to entertain at home.
Dani’s website danivalent.com is a fabulous destination for inspiring, empowering and entertaining cooking videos.
Dani is an ambassador for FareShare, an organisation which turns rescued food into healthy meals for those in need.