Since I wasn’t going for a run, I decided I’d use the time to do something with the enormous napa cabbage I got in my CSA box this week. I tried to weigh it, but my kitchen scale only goes up to five pounds.
I’m a big fan both of spicy foods and of making sauerkraut and other fermented vegetables, so I decided to make kimchi. I consulted recipes in a couple of different books and came to the conclusion that as long as I included enough salt to inhibit mold and undesirable bacteria, I could put in whatever other vegetables I liked. I had a bunch of daikon radishes and some carrots leftover from the previous week’s CSA box and some green onions growing in my window box, so those all went in. The resulting recipe, should you find yourself in possession of an overly large cruciferous vegetable:
Kimchi (makes 3 quarts)
1 very large napa cabbage (probably 5-6 lbs), coarsely chopped
4-5 carrots, grated (about 2c)
1 bunch daikon radishes, grated (about 3/4c)
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 small onion, thinly sliced
4-5T sea salt
1 bulb garlic, skins removed
12 fresh red bird’s eye chilies, stemmed
3T fresh ginger, chopped
Combine all but the last 3 ingredients in a large bowl or pot (I used an 8-quart stockpot and that was about the right size) and toss to coat the vegetables in salt. One of my books said to pound the vegetables with a wooden mallet for a bit to make them release their juices, but salting them and letting them sit for a little bit draws out the moisture without the bother of hitting your food with a hammer. If, however, you’re having the sort of day that would be improved by whacking a cabbage with a mallet, then by all means do so.
While the salt is doing its work, toss the garlic, chilies, and ginger in a blender and blend into a paste. I added a couple tablespoons of water to speed things along. I would not recommend sticking your nose in the blender to take a whiff after it’s done unless you enjoy coughing fits.
Add the spice paste to the vegetables and mix everything together. Spoon the kimchi into canning jars and press everything down with either a smaller jar or a large spoon until the liquid in the jars is completely covering the vegetables. Cover loosely (either the lids set on top but without the bands screwed on or with cheesecloth and a rubber band) and let sit at room temperature for about 3-7 days. Air bubbles will form during the fermentation process so check the jars periodically and if necessary press down the contents of the jar to keep everything submerged. Once it’s fermented enough for your taste, store in the refrigerator.