The Sidmouth Kimchi Queen

Hi All,

Well its official…I just fell under the spell of fermented foods all over again. My daughters will be grimacing as they read that sentence because I have been known to dabble in the fermentative arts on past occasions. I had a failed crafts cupboard for all of the crafts that I started and then my interest dwindled and slowly died for the evidence to be placed into storage in said cupboard. It’s just lucky that I don’t have a failed fermentation cupboard or the contents would be heinous to say the least! I made yoghurt, kefir (both milk and water) and let’s not forget the contents of my fridge crisper that must surely contain some long established microbial/fungi symbiosis that could split the atom. I have had a brief hiatus dabbling only in the more acceptable art of yeasty goodness of late but always…fermenting and brewing (forgive me…I couldn’t resist…) in the back of my magpie homesteading brain the desire to create bubbling pots of strange smelling creations lays latent and smouldering…I dare say it’s something primal from the beginnings of food storage. I dare say our ancestors learned to eat things that had turned to the dark and fuzzy side as they didn’t really have any alternatives and after a while decided that green and fuzzy or bubbly and even solidified and stinky wasn’t half as bad as it could have been and thus began humanities quest for preservation utilising our teeny little mates bacteria and fungi. Many times they form a little partnership to share the raw ingredients and occasionally one will start the project, and then they will hand the half-finished result over to their industrious little mate to finish it off. Without this active desire to change ingredients into other ingredients through the digestive systems of miniscule creatures we would have no alcohol, no cheese, no bread and umami would not exist.

With the crisp cold mornings that we have been having lately we headed off to walk at the boys favourite spot for their morning trot “Bonnie Beach”. We saw this pair of birds as we got out of the car.

I went off road with Earl and didn’t heed the warning signs with this (now obviously…) strange patch of ground. Steve made me keep my foot in so that he could first laugh, and then take photos to put on Facebook…

The end result was a shoe full of wet ash and clay that I stoically decided to ignore and carry on with our walk. The further we walked…the squishier the action of my feet made the new contents of my shoe and when I got home it took AGES to get the emulsified mass washed and scrubbed out of my trainer

I have been ruminating about making some generic “fermented things” for a while now and up until I actively took out Sandor Elix Katz book “Wild Fermentation” from the library (again…) it had stayed on the backburner raising its head occasionally as I muttered about “Must get some more kefir grains” and Steve would nod his head absently pretending not to hear me because most of the time my mutterings rarely amount to much but this time I decided to do something about it. I made Kimchi. I had a large quarter of a cabbage sitting in the fridge that was calling out for me to do something with it. I usually let cabbage take its natural course and turn into liquid plant fertiliser in my vegetable crisper (don’t you all say EWW! You KNOW you do the same!) But this cabbage kept lightly touching my hand as I delved beyond it to grasp the more familiar and desirable paper bag of mushrooms…red capsicums…spring onions…It must have felt so rejected :o(. I decided to use this small chunk of cabbage and what better to make of it than kimchi so that I could kill 2 birds with one stone. I collected together all of the ingredients along with my old standby sprouting jar that Steve had doctored for me in the past (another fad…) with metal mesh on the top so that the sprouts could simply be rinsed through the top of the jar. It was sitting on the top shelf of the pantry (along with the soy milk maker…the pasta maker…the mandoline and the high rise electric sprouter…I guess you could call it my failed fad cupboard: o) and was ideal for making kimchi. I will let the photos tell the story…

Garlic, ginger and Korean red chilli paste (no added preservatives) and a bit of white miso to help the flavour and the bacterial development

Hey…lets have a really CLOSE look at the resulting paste. This is the part that makes the cabbage kimchi and not sauerkraut…

This is my salting station. The veggies have to be soaked in quite a strong brine made from water and seasalt and here you can see the salt being weighed out before adding to the bowl

The salt needs to be totally dissolved and if you look carefully you can see the undissolved salt in the bottom of the bowl. I like to use a whisk to do this as it seems to take less time

The main reason for the recipe…here is the sliced up quarter of cabbage that I decided to use. The recipe called for Chinese cabbage but I didn’t actually HAVE Chinese cabbage and I am NO racist…so here we have common English cabbage and the kimchi is just going to have to live with it!

The recipe called for cabbage and carrot and radishes (which I also didn’t have…it being the middle of winter here in Tasmania made that somewhat difficult…) but it did say that you could put pretty much whatever you liked in it so I put some red capsicum…will I?…should I?…Yeh! Why not…

At the risk of ending up with Barbie pink kimchi I decided to add some purple carrot that had been languishing alongside the cabbage for more time than I would like to admit to the mix and it certainly perked up the colour a bit.

The vegetables needed to be submerged under the brine and this was the only plate that sit low enough in the bowl so I had to wing it…I added a bit more brine to make sure that all of the veggies were covered

The recipe said that you could add fish sauce (nope) and seaweed…NOW your talking Mr Katz! I knew that I had some seaweed in one of my ethnic food storage bins and went hunting through and found these 2. The lower seaweed was kelp (for my vegan sushi efforts) and as always the top packet was in an Asian language which I can’t understand so lets go with that one eh?

Hmmm…I wonder what kind of seaweed it is? They have kindly added “Dried Seaweed” to the top so that I know its not loose leaf tea but the actual variety remains a mystery…

After some further inspection I noticed the above directions and was able to identify the seaweed…WAKAME! My favourite seaweed and most DEFINATELY going into my Kimchi 😉

Aside from being the tastiest of all seaweedy comestibles, this particular brand is actually Korean which is the birthplace of Kimchi so its doubley fitting. This is what Wakame looks like when you first put it into water…

and this is how much wakame eventuates after a very short soak…BONUS!

Next we need to get some onion chopped up finely to add to the paste…

Heres the wakame, the onion and the paste ready for the vegetables when they have finished their stint in the brine.

Here they are mixed together ready to add to the soaked veggies when they come out of the brine.

I decided to warm the large repurposed jar that was once an ex delicatesen jar of Sundried Tomatoes in a past life to discourage any existing greeblies that might take up residence unheeded in my precious kimchi experiment…if it goes bottom up I want it to at least be because of something quantifiable so that I can work on it next time…

Steve used silicone to fix this bit of metal gauze to the top of the jar so that sprouts could be rinsed in situ and this makes a perfect non airtight jar to make kimchi and other fermented things in to stop the risk of the jar exploding…never a good thing!

Here’s the finished result with 2 small ziplock bags filled with water weighting the kimchi vegetables down underneath their resulting brine. This book has now become a “must buy” book and the more I look at the amazing fermented things inside it, the more I want to make them. I can actually feel Steve twitching as I type that :o). The small pot covered in the background with another little ziplock bag contains little cubes of cheese that we give to the Cuckoo Shrikes that come on a regular basis throughout winter to supplement their diet when the insects are conspicuous by their absence.

The kimchi’s current residence on my custom bread proving rack above Brunhilda where it sits snuggly festering in its own little warm haven… hopefully by the time I post again I will be able to use some of it

After making the kimchi I blended up my soaked (overnight) almonds to make the almond milk for my tea for the next few days and the sesame seeds to make the sesame milk for my morning porridge. I then put the left over ground up nuts/seeds individually into a baking paper lined tray and slid them into Brunhilda’s coolest drying oven to sit overnight and dry out slowly. Tomorrow I will remove them and will grind them individually in my Vitamix blender and turn them both into flour to be used in a future baking project. I like being able to make my own staple foods, it makes me feel sufficient. That’s NOT self-sufficient…just “sufficient”.  It’s now Wednesday evening and I have to post this post. “EEK!”…where did our week go? It went the same place that last week went…into the fervent world of AutoCAD and plan production and we arrive at this point tired but very happy with our progression from hair pulling incomprehension to actual understanding and utilising the potential of this difficult program to give us some pretty classy results. Our latest planting plan looks like something that we would see in a magazine and that, my dear constant readers, is what it’s all about :o). I would also like to thank Spencer from the amazing blog Anthropogen (Check on my blogroll as it’s one of my must read blogs) for sharing some quality precious information with us here on Serendipity Farm. Spencer has been dabbling in growing some of the trees that I lust after here on Serendipity Farm and I am watching the progress most carefully as Spencer lives in Greece and Greece and Australia are not all that far apart in their temperature variations. I have met some really amazing people through blogging that I would never have met if not for learning how to blog. My life would have been less rich and most definitely the poorer for not having met you all. Cheers for inspiring me to blog in the first place and for giving me the will to carry on. If you guys can do it…I can! :o)

We use the coolest of Brunhilda’s warming ovens to thaw the dogs meat from frozen and to dehydrate things overnight like this pulp left over from making the almond (on the left…I leave the skins on so its darker than it could be) and sesame (on the right) milk. The next day its dry and has a decidedly malty smell. I store them in separate jars in the pantry for future use. Dehydrating things allows you to extend their storage period and I love not having to waste the pulp from nuts and seeds as they are not cheap and using everything involved in the process is a much more sustainable outcome

Here is what Earl thinks of my kimchi making exercise…

And if Bezial’s expression here is anything to go by he would rather have been left asleep than forced to share his disdain with the world…

The sun was just coming up and Steve took this interesting shot on one of our early morning dog walks

We took this photo of a little native fern ensconced between 2 lichen covered rocks along the way on our walk

One of the old dead trees along the Auld Kirk dirt road on the way home from our walk that possums use for habitat. You can see the river down the steep bank in the background

Another cold morning on the river. This shot was taken just over from our front gate and shows you how pretty where we live actually is

The view back down Auld Kirk Road towards where we live gives you a good idea about where we head off to in the mornings when I say that we are walking the dogs.

My kimchi is sitting up above Brunhilda as I type this on the comparative warm haven of my customised bread proofing rack. I have tasted it daily as instructed by Mr Katz and have really noticed the flavour changing from predominately “salty” to a more complex mix of salty and tangy. I don’t like buying things that I can’t make myself and probiotics are one thing that I refuse to pay money for when they can be produced at home. Kimchi promises to satisfy my desire for savoury flavours whilst giving me the added bonus of being actually good for me. Next step is the more down to earth Sauerkraut to see if my German heritage emerges with a “Wunderbar!” It remains to be seen… Again I think that I will let the multitude of photos tell you a bit more about the last few days as I have over 30 photos to share with you. We seem to spend our days walking the dogs and studying in between rain showers and the odd bit of Zelda (me) and television (Steve) but they say that a photo can speak 1000 words…I am sure that you will be glad of the opportunity to see if they do :o) so I will finish up here for today and leave you all with this little reminder of why I love Brunhilda so VERY much…

Lastly…heres another great reason why I love the multifunctionality of Brunhilda. This coolest warming oven is perfect for drying off wet items without heating them too much…its perfect for dehydrating and in this case…for making “Shoe” pastry 😉 Oh go ON! You know you liked it :o)

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7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kym
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 20:43:20

    No comments yet? I’m going to be the first one!!!! What does the Kimchi taste like Fran? It had Kim in it so it must be good lol.

    Reply

    • narf77
      Jul 19, 2012 @ 20:48:19

      lol It tastes a bit salty and a bit like pickles…its delish! It is spicy and garlicky as well. I have an enormous jar of it smouldering in the fridge and just did heaps of recipe research to find ways to use it up. I am going to have some fun working my way through Korean recipes using kimchi for the next few weeks at least ;)… It has “Kim” in it because it is bold, ribald and tends to go off if you aren’t careful LOL! (Fran ducks…)

      Reply

  2. Kym
    Jul 20, 2012 @ 11:11:13

    Oh very funny Fran lol. You ducked just in time! Should be fun trying all those Korean recipes. Ok I’m off to boil the kettle with my stare 🙂

    Reply

  3. christiok
    Jul 21, 2012 @ 01:20:49

    So interesting, Fran, and thanks for all the pictures. We have at least 30 heads of cabbage in the garden this year — red and green. I love cabbage and usually put it in the root cellar for storage (a large hole in the ground I dug and Keith made a top for) — but I’m going to try making Kimchi. I made a ton of pickles 2 years ago and none of them were very crisp. And I love sauerkraut. Thanks for the inspiration.:)

    Reply

    • narf77
      Jul 21, 2012 @ 07:25:09

      Cheers Christi, this kimchi has an amazing flavour. I am someone who adores garlic and this stuff is redolent with the delicious most pungent bulb. Its a really good balance of spicy, tasty and pickley and most definately satisfied that need for something probiotic in a tasty melange. I will be most interested to see your results. I wish we could dig a root cellar here! I think we are going to have to go with making a cellar above ground and heaping earth around it as we have so many rocks (the whole of Tasmania is an extinct volcanic range) in the ground that it is totally inpractical to even think of digging). I may go with an earthbag construction covered over with soil. At least we are on a steep hill here so it might work? But that, my dear, is another post! 😉 Have a great day and remember to add some of that delicious red cabbage to your next batch of sauerkraut as it looks so pretty. I haven’t made sauerkraut yet but am working up to it.

      Reply

  4. Hannah (BitterSweet)
    Jul 21, 2012 @ 03:59:50

    I absolutely adore kimchi, especially if you throw some sea veggies in there! I haven’t actually tried that, but now I feel like I need to whip up a new batch asap to do so.

    Reply

    • narf77
      Jul 21, 2012 @ 07:21:04

      The sea veggies made it absolutely delicious and the addition of a bit of miso sped the process up and resulted in an amazing product. I used Sandor Ellix Katz recipe and have just put his book on my birthday order list 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the post and good luck with your sea veggies kimchi, it is most certainly worth putting them in. I used wakame as its mild at first but will be throwing in some more unusual weeds de mer in my next batch 😉

      Reply

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