Much as it does in Korea, kimchi will perk up your meals too.
PHOTO: EMILY HELLER
Korean Kimchi or kimchee is a spicy, fermented condiment similar to sauerkraut. You can use any fresh vegetables you have on hand (except potatoes) and adjust the seasonings to suit your taste.
3 cups warm water
2 tbsp sea salt
10 to 15 small radishes, with or without greens
8 to 10 scallions
4 bulbs garlic, diced
1 tbsp horseradish root, peeled and grated (or prepared horseradish, without preservatives)
1 small ginger root, peeled and grated
2 tsp Korean chili powder or a few whole hot chilies (You can substitute almost any kind of hot peppers, fresh or dried, as long as there are no preservatives. Adjust to taste.)
Mix the salt into the water until fully dissolved. Slice vegetables thinly or julienne. Stuff the veggies into a pickle crock or a large, wide-mouth jar, and pour the brine over them. Press a baggie filled with water, a small plate, a jar, or other non-reactive weight over the top so the vegetables are completely submerged. Cover the crock with a towel and let it sit at room temperature overnight.
In the morning, drain off and reserve the brine. Taste the veggies. They should be a little soft and pretty salty. If they are unpalatably salty, rinse them in fresh water. If they don’t taste very salty, stir in a little more sea salt.
Mash the seasonings into a paste with a mortar and pestle or food processor. Stir the seasonings into the veggies until well coated. Pack the mixture back into the crock or jar, and smash it down until the veggies are submerged in liquid. Add back more brine as necessary to cover. Replace the weight.
Let the kimchee ferment at room temperature for about a week. Check each day to make sure the mixture is completely submerged. After about 1 week, your kimchee should be deliciously sour. You can move it to the refrigerator when it reaches your preferred level of tanginess.
Fresh and Local Spring Recipes
Tabitha Alterman is a Senior Associate Editor for MOTHER EARTH NEWS. In spring, she digs making fresh butter, yogurt and cheese with yummy, creamy milk from the cows and goats that thrive on the pastures of the nearby Hudson Valley.