If anyone can make rotting food sound sublimely sexy it’s Sandor Katz. In his newest book on fermentation, Katz (nicknamed “Sandorkraut”) guides the reader through simple methods of fermenting food. Basic Fermentation: A Do-It-Yourself Guide to Cultural Manipulation begins with a brief, yet informative introduction to the nutritious and magical microbial world that sustains life.
“Certain microbial organisms can be harnessed to manifest extraordinary culinary transformations,” Katz states. It’s what gives us bread, beer, wine, cheese, yogurt, and, if you’re a fermentation fanatic, you’ll know it also blesses us with kimchi, miso, kefir, sauerkraut, tempeh, and a host of other global gut-healthy and immune-boosting foods.
We own and create many recipes out of Katz’s earlier book on fermentation, The Art of Fermentation, the multi award-winning book that is hands-down the ultimate and in-depth how-to fermentation guide. But if you are looking for a smaller, more approachable “quick-start” guide, then Basic Fermentation is for you. Read on for Katz's easy recipe for kimchi, which is sure to get you salivating for fermented foods! Here’s what else you’ll learn to make from this must-have little book:
Amazake (a sweet Japanese fermented rice drink)
Injera (an Ethiopian pancake-like flatbread)
Ethiopian Honey Wine
Tara, Kefir & Related Dairy Ferments
Excerpt and recipe courtesy of Microcosm Publishing
“Kimchi is another brine ferment that I have loved for years. It is a Korean pickle made in many different styles. In certain respects, kimchi is like sauerkraut. One difference is that kimchi recipes generally call for heavily salting the cabbage to soften it quickly, then rinsing it and fermenting it with less salt. Kimchi is also spicy, using generous amounts of ginger, garlic and hot chili peppers. Kimchi ferments faster than sauerkraut. You could certainly make it in a crock like sauerkraut, but this recipe is for a small quantity using a quart-size jar.” ~ Sandor Katz
INGREDIENTS for one quart of kimchi:
1 large head chinese cabbage (nappa or bok choi)
1 small daikon radish
a few green onions (including tops)
a few cloves of garlic
1 or 2 hot red chilies, depending on how hot peppery you like food
2 teaspoons fresh ginger
Mix a brine of about four cups of water and 2 tablespoons of salt.
Coarsely chop the cabbage and let it soak in the brine until soft, a few hours or overnight.
Prepare the other ingredients: slice radish and green onions into thin strips; grate the ginger; finely chop the garlic and chili and mix it into a paste with the ginger.
Remove the cabbage from the brine and rinse it well, with several changes of water.
Mix the cabbage with the radish and onion strips, sprinkle the vegetables with about one tablespoon of salt, and add the garlic-ginger-chili paste.
Mix everything together thoroughly and stuff into a clean quart-size jar. Add enough water to submerge the vegetables and cover the jar (not tightly).
Taste the kimchi every day. After several days of fermentation, when it tastes ripe, move it to the refrigerator to slow down the process.
Note from Foodista: the image of kimchi above is from a batch of Brussels sprouts and green onion kimchi that I made and photographed. It is used only as a representation of kimchi in general and is not featured in Basic Fermentation.