Everyone I know has been hiding from the snow (we got a foot and a half! Wtf!?) and pre-Christmas congestion in their kitchens, baking cookies into festive shapes and filling the world with the often-neglected scent of nutmeg. I on the other hand, leave the sweet stuff to Crystal and have spent the last couple weeks pickling and preserving whatever herbs and veg the weather didn’t manage to wipe out.
Its slim pickings… If we were legit homesteaders we’d starve this winter *laughs* I’ve got a handful of radishes left from my mid-August sowing in the ‘ol Zen garden, some chard and a couple knobbly carrots. I’m thinking the chard will get eaten right away while the radishes ‘n carrots will live on, packed into mason jars and swimming in Korean chillies.
Kimchee is Korea’s national dish and a favourite recipe for part-time preservers like me because it’s mix-it-and-forget-it technique yields some big, huge flavours after just a couple weeks in the back of your fridge. Usually Korean families pickle whole cabbages in their trademark mixture of ground chillies, garlic, ginger and some form of fermented seafood (ground shrimp, fish sauce, oyster sauce, etc.) but pretty much any veg can benefit from a kimchee bath.
Radishes are my favourite vegetable to use for a couple of reasons: a) Nappa cabbage is really hard to grow here and I can get three crops of breakfast radish a year without any effort… and b) Radishes maintain a nice, toothy crunch even after salting and fermenting like many of my favourite Japanese-style pickled vegetables.
Once it sits in the fridge for a couple of weeks, the flavour of the mixture changes from bold ‘n spicy to subtle and slightly sour as the juices from the vegetables (and the sugars therein) mix with the chilie paste and start fermenting. By mid-January it’ll be perfect to serve as a side dish (banchan in Korean) with rice, congee or my favourite, atop a couple fried eggs for breakfast.
Radish Kimchee (Makes 1 Large Mason Jar Full – Approx 465g)
- 15 Medium Radishes (380g total, chopped in half)
- 1 Tbls (15g) Kosher Salt
- 3 Small Green Onions (30g total, ends removed and chopped into inch-long pieces)
- 1 Medium Carrot (90g total, peeled and julienned)
- 1 Tbls. (15g) Fresh Ginger (grated)
- 4 Garlic Cloves (54g total, peeled and grated)
- 3 Tbls. (45ml) Fish Sauce
- 2 tbls. (30ml) Light Soy Sauce
- ¼ Cup (25g) Coarsely Ground Korean Chilie Powder (Kochukaru)
Method (Heads up! This recipe takes a couple days)
- Rub the radishes all over with salt, place them in a non-reactive container overnight in the fridge sprinkling any leftover salt over top. Next day, strain the radishes through a sieve and set aside.
- Mix the remaining ingredients and a medium-sized bowl and taste. If it makes you go “damn! That’s some crazy hoodoo stuff right there!” then it’s ready to go. The salty/spiciness will eventually soften during fermentation, so don’t be alarmed. Mix with the drained radishes and pack tightly into a non-reactive container (we use mason jars) and seal with an air-tight lid.
- Store the container in the fridge for two weeks before sampling. It really gets good after those first couple and deepens into a real treat after a month or so. Once it’s been opened it should be stored in the fridge with a tight-fitting lid for up to two months.
Music to Pickle To:
DJ Shadow -The Mountain Will Fall