What is your favorite fermented food? – this was the question I asked to confirm my theory that the queen dish of fermentation comes from Korea. 80 percent of people answered that their favorite fermented food is kimchi. Kimchi is available in hundreds of varieties and I’m making my favorite variety today- wild kimchi with wild greens: ramsons and nettles.
The basic ingredients in kimchi are the same: vegetables, chili peppers, garlic, ginger and some umami-rich ingredients such as fish sauce, salty prawns or, as in my case, miso-paste. Miso-paste allows kimchi to be vegan friendly as well. I guess the secret behind the kimchi success is that it combines all five basic flavors: saltiness, acidity, sweetness, a little of bitterness, umami and even heat from the chili. Thanks to the fermentation, the taste develops even further so as to create true cravings.
In Korea, kimchi-making is taken very seriously. The World Institute of Kimchi, based in Korea, publishes the Kimchiology series, with the latest research on kimchi as it relates to anthropology, culture and art. In 2013 kimchi and kimchi-making “kimjang” was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.
I was raised in Central Asia, where we used to make large barrels of kimchi for the whole year. We called Kimchi “chimchi” in Old Korean. There is a large Korean diaspora living in Central Asia and Russia, people who were forcibly deported by Stalin to the “uninhabited” lands of the former Soviet Union. We had no access to the fine aromatic Korean pepper gochugaru, instead we made kimchi with a strong red pepper. Eating a strong kimchi made us definitely stronger in spirit – it was both a torture and a pleasure at the same time.
I’ve made a variant of kimchi with wild greens — ramsons and nettles – beautiful ingredients that the Swedish nature gives us.Print
Wild kimchi and the queen of all fermented dishes
- Servings : 4 portions or 1 liter jar 1x
1/2 napa cabbage25 g salt per kilo of cabbage
1 tbsp rice flour
200 ml water
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 tbsp light miso paste
3 tbsp Korean chili powder gochugari (available in Asian stores) or 2 tbsp chili flakes
100 ml grated radish
1 bunch of ramsons
1 bunch of nettles
1. Wash the cabbage. Cut it into 3×3 cm pieces and massage in the salt. Let stand for about 30 minutes so that the cabbage begins to release liquid and become soft.
2. Whisk the rice flour with the cold water and bring to boil. Let the rice porridge cool.
3. Grate the ginger and garlic using a grater or a food processor. Mix with miso pasta, chili pepper and the rice porridge.,
3. Cut apple and radish into thin sticks. Wash the ramsons and the nettles, using gloves. Cut them if the plants are too big.
4. Toss the spice mixture with the cabbage, radish, apple, ramsons and nettles. Keep mixing gently until everything is well combined. The veggies can release lots of juice.
5. Pack the cabbage in a glass jar, making sure there are no air bubbles in the jar. Make sure to press down the veggies. A layer of liquid brine will cover the vegetables and it helps the anaerobic fermentation process. Let the jars sit on the counter for about 2-3 days at room temperature. Place a plate under the jar. The Kimchi mix will bubble vigorously and the liquid will overflow. After three days transfer the jar to the refrigerator and after about a week you can eat the kimchi. Consume the kimchi within two weeks of opening the jar.