Adam James Turmeric Paste Recipe

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by Sandor Katz
You can use this paste as a perpetual pickling medium.
about 1-1/2 quarts paste SERVINGS


  • 14 ounces turmeric root
  • 10 ounces garlic cloves, peeled
  • 14 ounces ‘Hakurei’ or other small, tender turnips
  • 3 tablespoons salt (roughly 4 percent weight of turmeric, garlic, and turnips)
  • About 3/4 pound vegetables (daikons, turnips, carrots, celery, or others) to pickle once the pickling medium is mature


  • Using a food processor or an immersion blender, grind the turmeric root, garlic cloves, ‘Hakurei’ turnips, and salt with just enough water (roughly 2 cups) to form a thick paste.
  • Ferment the paste in a jar or crock with at least a 2-quart capacity for about a month, stirring periodically. For best results, protect the surface of the paste from air with an interior lid or a layer of plastic.
  • After a month or so, the paste should be active enough to start using as a fermentation medium. Simply submerge the whole vegetables. Turnips and daikons work well since they’re not too dense.
  • Depending on temperature, the size and density of the vegetables, and how vigorous the medium is, the vegetables should ferment in about a week; however, I often leave mine for a month or longer. The resulting pickles take on the intense yellow of turmeric (another reason why white vegetables are good), shrivel slightly due to water loss, and have a wonderful acidic and earthy crunch.

Time frame: about 1 month for paste; at least 1 week for fermenting vegetables.

This paste can be used on its own as a condiment (great with mussels and oysters); as a base for a salad or vegetable dressing (thin with olive oil, water, and a dash of rice vinegar); as an excellent addition to fire ciders and fermented hot sauces; or made into my all-time favorite curry paste by simply cooking it down with fresh puréed ginger then adding a tin or two of coconut cream and some good (preferably homemade) fish sauce and fresh lemon or lime. I also use it as a base for brown rice congee that I serve at the farmers market. It’s a fantastic addition to shio-koji for an intense, “fresh” hit of zingy umami.