"If You Can't Beet 'Em, Join 'Em" Kim Chi
According to Wild Fermentation, one can ferment just about anything. Should you want to try out an easy recipe, I recommend beet green kim chi -- a spicy, vegan variation on the Korean classic inspired by my fridgeful of beet greens and a little fresh ginger I had lying around. I don't actually have a copy of the book, so this recipe is loosely based on the more traditional napa cabbage kim chi we made at a fermentation workshop I attended at nearby Common Good City Farm in the fall of 2010....
The basic process is as follows: combine, mash, cover, wait, enjoy.
- the chopped greens from 8 -10 beets
- 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
- 2 inches of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- 6-8 green onions, finely sliced
- 3 tsp red pepper flakes
- salt (maybe 2-3 tsp total)
- water, as needed (see challenge below)*
In a glass pint jar (or other glass/enamel container), combine the ingredients, mashing ingredients with a wooden spoon as greens are added in roughly 1-inch layers. (See that picture of my first addition of ingredients? All of those beet greens mashed down to about an inch. True story.) Make sure there is a layer of liquid covering everything when you're finished. If you mash intently enough -- c'mon, rise to *the challenge* -- you won't even need to add any water, as the salt and mashing will draw a sufficient amount of liquid out of the greens. Then cover with a glass or small plate (some folks like to weight the lid to keep veggies submerged) and keep on the counter for a few days. Then dig in. See? Now how easy was that?
A few notes:
- It is critical not to use metal containers or utensils while making fermented foods because of corrosion, and plastic has the possibility of leaching chemicals into the food. Stick to glass/enamel dishes and wooden/enamel utensils.
- Unlike traditional pickling, when fermenting one can use any kind of salt. Sea salt, iodized, kosher….
- I like to layer greens between sections of the various other ingredients to be sure they get nice and infused with the spicy flavors.
- After about 2 days, start tasting your fermented foods. Once they taste the way you want them, put them in the fridge to slow fermentation. (In fact, I had to head out of town for about a week and a half, so I had mine on the counter for a day, then in the fridge for 10 days, then back out on the counter, still covered, for about 2 days. I transferred things to smaller jars, though, as my fridge couldn't accommodate the flower vase I initially used. That gave me the opportunity to layer in a bit more minced ginger and garlic....)
- If a layer of mold develops on the surface of your fermenting foods, just skim it off -- no, really -- and add a little more liquid. Unless it smells like a dead animal, the kim chi should be okay to eat (or so I have been told).
- Once in the fridge, you can enjoy your fermented goodies for up to a couple of months. But, really, they're so tasty I'll bet they won't last a week....
- At Rooting DC 2011, we made kim chi with swiss chard. Just as tasty as beet greens.
Recipe courtesy of Ibti Vincent, A Bikeable Feast
Rooting DC: 19 February 2011