I'm laughing because when our Korean friend finally came over to show us how he makes Kim Chi last Sunday, he wanted to make something the average American could relish. So he made it a bit "lite" on the spicy red pepper. Check out the three two-quart jars we made and then I'll tell you how we made it.
Lacto fermented food counts as "raw food," so long as the food has not been cooked before you pickle it. Who says so? I do. You may not. Most Americans, including me, have an initial paranoia about making lacto-fermented stuff because our heads are so full of "botulism" fright. But botulism doesn't or can't grow with lacto fermentation and if your work spoils for some other reason (rare), you'll know it by the nasty smell. Learning the process is more important than knowing recipes because then you can ferment whatever you have on hand. In fact, I just read about Romanians who keep a big plastic barrel in the kitchen, full of salt water. The y throw in whatever is in season. When winter comes, they start eating it. You can't get much more simple than that. Of course, the right spices will give you tasty results. This weekend I also made some lacto fermented Katsup, more Salsa, Pickled Jalapenos, and a Pakistani pickled-in-oil version of Limes & Chile Peppers with Tumeric.
On to the Kim Chi.
I told our friend, Ahn, "We'll bring the vegetables, you bring the Spices.
INGREDIENTS (for three 2-quart jars±)
Nappa Cabbage - 2 large
Asian Radish (fatter is better than longer) 1.5 large
Green Onions - about 5 bundles
Garlic - 3 heads
Onion - 1 BIG, 1 medium
Black Sesame Seed (roasted)
Coarse Red Pepper Powder for Kim Chi (try the Asian markets)
Water (why use tap?)
WORK SPACE & TOOLS:
We used the linoleum floor, at Ahn'd request, with a large, round plastic cutting board, a big slicing knife, two large stainless steel pans and two medium glass mixing bowls, and a blender for the garlic and onions. Use only non-reactive containers, glass, ceramic, stainless if you must, plastic if you have nothing better. Clean glass mason jars, or other suitable containers. Surgical gloves are a good idea, at least our Korean friend uses them.
NOTE ON QUANTITIES: This isn't rocket Science and the best ideas is to bring plenty of the various ingredients, then put together a mix that appeals to you and pack the containers you have, if you are able. This is better thana set-in-stone recipe, because that's not what Kim Chi is all about (I'm told). Provided you get the right amount of salt, you really can't go wrong. Hot... or not; more radish, more onion, etc. Learn what you like. Our friend recommends a less spicy mix for the first attempt/experience. With Kim Chi, if you have or make more than will fill your jars, you can mix a bit of sesame oil and a small bit of brown Sugar or sucanet into the remainder, and you can eat it right away or store it unfermented in the 'fridge.
Put 2-3 quarts of water into a large non-reactive container. Add enough salt to make a cloudy brine about as strong as sea water. This isn't rocket Science and you can use the brine for several batches because you won't be adding any to the Kim Chi. The brine is only for soaking the vegetables.
Slice the Napa Cabbage, excluding about the 2" x 2" x 3" hard heart. Put the cabbage into the brine, and soak for 30 minutes to an hour. Don't press hard or squeeze it yet.
Meantime, Grate up the Radish with a grate about pencil eraser size. Grate into a large, non-reactive container that will serve as your main mixing container.
Meantime, peel the garlic; peel and chop the onion. use about one head of garlic to a medium onion. chop the onion, then stick it into a blender with the garlic if you want to save a bunch of time. Pour in about 6 tsp fish sauce
Press the Napa a bit and then drain the brine, reserving it for the next batch of the day.
Set Napa in a colander to drain.
Slice about two bundles of green onions into two-inch pieces.
Put the green onion pieces into the mixing container with the grated radish.
Now add "enough" coarse red pepper powder. Enough means just that. How much is enough for you, or whoever will be eating this stuff. Our friend had to sigh about people who think they must make Kim Chi as hot as possible. You can do that, but there's also no need. He added a good palm-full, then a little bit more later.
"Don we now our".... err... just put on the rubber gloves at this time if you brought some.
Pour the blender-chopped onion/garlic mix into the mixing bowl with the grated radish and sliced green onions. Mix everything together by hand.
Mix in some black (roasted) sesame seed. Maybe 1 TBSP for 2-quart jar (now stop being so anal-retentive and try to go with the flow! :-)
Continue mixing. You may taste and add more pepper powder if you wish, but remember, you haven't added the Napa cabbage yet.
Now add the drained Napa cabbage to the mixing container with the previously-mixed radish/garlic/onion/green-onion/spices. Mix the Napa well into the pasty mix. Soon, you'll have a juice mess!
Pack the Kim Chi into your jars; and why not use 2-quart jars to prove to yourself you're in this "Big Time?" A canning funnel ring comes in handy.
Pack the Kim Chi firmly, but not too hard, and pack to about one inch of the jar top. Pour some of the juice from the bottom of the mixing container into the jar, over the Kim Chi. It won't probably cover your work, but no problem.
BATCHES: Our first batch filled one 2-quart jar and 3/4 of the second 2-quart jar. Our second batch filled the remaining 1/4 of that jar, then Ahn added some dark sesame oil and brown Sugar to the mixing container, mixed it in, and filled a third 2-quart jar for himself. As mentioned earlier, the oil and Sugar make the un-fermented Kim Chi more palatable for immediate consumption.
Now for what appeals to me. (!)
We'd brought two long, fresh Burdock roots from a Chinese market. This is called "Gobo" by some Asians. Trotting out to a backyard garden bed, we picked some Kale and Collard leaves, brought them inside, washed them, and set them aside.
Now radish was grated again; onion and garlicwere chopped fine in the blender and dosed with fish sauce, then added to the mixing bowl with the radish. Next, green onions -- about a bundle and one half -- were sliced into thin rings and added to the mix, followed by black sesame seeds and "enough" red pepper powder.
Next, the two long Gobo roots (Burdock aka Arctium lappa) was thinly peeled and thinly sliced on the diagonal. These were added to another bowl with the ribbon-sliced crucifer leaves.
We added the leaves and Burdock Root Slices to the other ingredients.
Then, about 2 TBSP of Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar was poured over the root slices and leaf ribbons.
Mix it all together, and pack into a 2-quart jar, packing firmly and pouring the good juice from the bottom of the mixing bowl over the top. Cap firmly.
In all batches and jars above, the Kim Chi was packed firmly, but not overly tightly, to within about 1 inch of the jar top. The juice from the mixing container did not cover the top of the Kim Chi.
We set the jars aside at room temperature of about 71 degrees F. That was yesterday at 2:30 PM. Today, the lacto fermentation bubbles are already working through the liquid, which is more plentiful than it was yesterday.
I realize this "recipe" may put off "measurement fans," but you really don't need to worry so much about perfect proportions. There are many ways to make Kim Chi, and even the standard version differs from maker to maker.
I took 353 color digital photos of the Kim Chi Fest, including various 4-6 year olds frolicking through the event. I practice a Documentary Style of photography that I developed to "document" my subject matter, be that a travel event; nature walk; construction project; dilapidated structure needing repair; accident scene; local female "entertainer" (for her classified ads, mind you); or food fest. So I did get many shots that could (and probably will) be assembled into a folio that will make the entire process typed above seem understandable and sensible. I can't post even the "short version" here. Maybe on Flickr, sometime.
I predict that if the Rothschild ZOG cult doesn't murder us to decrease the population, Kim Chi will become THE All-American Dish within the next fifty years because it's easy to make, easy to store, very healthy to eat, and may be made in many various combinations. And it's a nourishing, living food that you don't have to buy (and can't, in fact) from the Great American Death Cult, aka the Posers That Be. Good night. This is Elf Hardtoil... "for Social Nationalism in our lifetime!"