Saturday, 18 January 2014
Brussels Sprouts And Radish Kimchi
I had loads of Brussels sprouts left over from the festive period so the idea of turning them into kimchi seemed like the perfect solution. I love brussels sprouts and I do adore kimchi which makes this union my ideal food heaven.
Traditional kimchi is made with Napa cabbage (or Chinese cabbage) and sprouts are from the same brassica family so this combination is a no-brainer.
If you've never had kimchi before, you are definitely missing one of the great pleasure in life. Although kimchi is commonly thought of as being the fermented cabbage but it actually describe the method of making it. You can, in fact, kimchi anything. Think of it like pickling if you like and that's precisely what it is. Except in this instance, it's the fermentation that produces that signature acidic sourness and not vinegar.
Kimchi making is very simple. Start by brining the cabbage or whatever base vegetable that you decided to use. In this instance, it's the sliced Brussels sprouts. This helps to encourage the fermentation process.
Roots vegetable, such as carrots, daikon or radish etc can be added to give a contrasting texture but these do not need to be brined. You are, after all, using them for their crisp and crunchy mouthfeel and adding them to the saline solution will soften them and kind of defeat the purpose.
The base paste is what give the kimchi the gutsy flavour. This is made with Korean chilli flakes, ginger, garlic, glutinous rice flour among other things. Make sure that you use the mandatory Korean chilli flakes. Don't be tempted to substitute them with normal chilli flakes. I have learnt from past experience that these will yield an extremely hot kimchi and although they were decent enough but taste-wise, they weren't quite right. Do not omit the glutinous rice flour or otherwise you will ends up with a wishy-washy result. The traditional recipe calls for Korean salted/fermented shrimps but I find fish sauce works just as well. This need to be of good quality so don't bother with those cheap varieties you find in most supermarket.
Time is the important factor here too so patience is a virtue. Saying that, there is not reason why you can't delve right into it after only a couple of days. A short fermentation time will still give you a light and crunchy kimchi but flavour-wise, it will not compete with the more harmonious and fuller taste that slower and longer fermentation will give.
As for when or where is the appropriate time to serve them or eat them with? Well, this is entirely up to you. I'll eat them straight from the jar and with anything.
Ingredients (fills a 2.6L container)
1 kg Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced
150g salt (use table salt and not your good sea salt for this)
350g Korean chilli flakes
roughly 4cm piece ginger, peeled and grated
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
80ml good quality fish sauce
400g radish, thinly sliced
8 spring onions, cut into thin rings
For the base paste:
100g glutinous rice flour
The day before, make up the saline solution by mixing the salt and water in a large bowl. Add the sprouts, make sure they are fully submerge. Weigh down with a plate and some weight if necessary. Leave to stand over night.
The following day, drain the sprouts and set aside.
To make the base paste, combine the water, glutinous rice flour and sugar in a pan and heat gently over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens. This will takes 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and allows to cool.
In a large bowl, combine the paste, chilli flakes, ginger, garlic, onion and fish sauce and mix.
Add the radish and spring onion, then the sprouts. Using your hands (the best tool for this), combined everything thoroughly, making sure all the vegetable are coated with the paste.
Transfer to a large airtight container and leave to ferment for a minimum of 3-4 days, until the desired sourness is achieved.
Be careful when opening the container as the fermentation will produce a great amount of gas. Use a flexible container rather than a glass jar to prevent 'exploding'.