GROW FOOD slow foodHave your garden and eat it too. A practical guide to organic gardening in the sub-tropics with step-by-step instructions and delicious seasonal recipes. Come with me too on some of my travels in Australia, Europe, Asia and beyond.
I am very lucky to live in a part of the world that is full of abundance-we can grow food all the year round, even salads. But, I have seen a lot of people over the years throw themselves with passion into their food gardens and then, when it came time to harvesting, not knowing what to do with their ‘abundance’ and then losing interest in the garden. What a pity!
Eating from your garden is good practice for the future when healthy food may be in short supply. This, inevitably, will require us to learn new skills and explore dishes and cuisines we may not have tried before – like this very healthy fermented Korean, pickled cabbage.
The first lesson this Sunday morning comes from ‘Bushy’ at the Mullumbimby Community Garden: I was wandering around, looking at composting bins – as you do, when I came across a young man busy in the outdoor kitchen. It was pretty early so I was curious what he was doing as I couldn’t smell any toast and coffee!
He was making something I had neither cooked nor eaten before – pickled Korean vegetables ‘Kimchi’. He explained that there was a glut of radishes, collard greens and lantern chillies in the garden – so with lots of garlic and ginger from the garden he was in the process of making this fermented pickle. He found it delicious and ate it all the time. He then carefully explained his recipe and showed me how to make it. And folks, if you were ever wondering why I love living in Mullumbimby, that little story just about says it all.
A Japanese or Korean table is simply not complete without some kind of pickle: every conceivable vegetable is sliced and pickled, to serve with steaming rice or as a condiment, and to add to soups, noodles and hot-pots. Imagine Japanese sashimi or sushi without a small bowl of pickled ginger/ wasabi and soy sauce – well kimchi is the equivalent in Korean cuisine?
Kimchi is terrific with grilled or barbecued meats and fish, and with steamed rice. You can also shred some to toss through a stir-fry or hearty salad. I believe you can use many kinds of vegetables, but this is roughly Bushy’s Kimchi.
1 cabbage (wombok Asian cabbage is best)
2 daikon radish, sliced (optional, and you can use other kinds of radish)
1 1/2 tbsp sea salt
5-6 garlic cloves crushed
2 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
2-3 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp caster sugar
3-4 spring onions, finely sliced
2/3 cup chilli powder/ or combination of fresh and powdered
1. Cut the cabbage into quarters lengthwise and then cut each quarter into 3cm pieces crosswise so the cabbage looks like large chunks.
2. Pour the water into a large bowl or and stir in the salt until dissolved. Add the cabbage and cover with a heavy plate or lid to keep the cabbage weighted down and submerged in the salted water. Cover and leave for 12 hours or overnight, stirring occasionally (don’t get up especially to do this!)
3. Rinse the cabbage well and squeeze out as much liquid as you can. Mix the remaining ingredients with the cabbage and the extra teaspoon of salt.
4. Finally, pack into sterilised glass jars (traditional to use an earthenware pot with lid). Seal the jars and leave for two days, at room temperature, until the pickle has developed its characteristic sourness – then refrigerate. My friend Rasa, who lived in Japan for a decade, tells me that this is a ‘fresh pickle’ and should be consumed within a few days.
Makes 2 litres – I must say that it was really delicious!
Discovering this recipe also made me scour the thrift shops for the perfect Kimchi – and I found it – a beautiful, handmade ceramic jar – even more beautiful at $1.
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