I thought I would share a quick update on some of my latest fermenting activities. For the last year or so it seems there has always been something cooking on the kitchen countertop, and that’s no less true today in December. At the moment I have a half gallon jar of water kefir fermenting, plus a bottle of ginger beer carbonating. They are sharing space with a jar of turnip ‘pickles’ and two jars of kohlrabi kimchi.
It is safe to say I have become a big fan of kimchi, now that I have been making it myself and toning down the heat a bit. I’ve made several batches of kimchi using napa cabbage (baechu kimchi), and one batch using cubed daikon radish (kkakdugi). I’ve been enjoying both of them, especially the crunchy kkakdugi. I’ve been using mostly my own ingredients, including the hot peppers, but I recently broke down and bought a bag of Korean Chili Flakes (Gochugaru) to see what they would add to the kimchi. I decided to make a batch using kohlrabi instead of daikon, spiced up with the gochugaru, and I’m glad I did.
I loosely followed a recipe I found online. After peeling the kohlrabi, I diced it into bite size cubes, then brined for about six hours in a 5% solution of sea salt and water. I drained the kohlrabi, saving some of the brine for later. Then I made a paste of garlic, ginger, scallions, gochugaru, soy sauce and fish sauce. After chopping it all up in the food processor, I mixed it in with the kohlrabi cubes then packed it in a pint jar. I used the brine to top off the jar, then covered with a loosely screwed on lid.
After bubbling furiously for a few days, that first batch was ready to start tasting in about a week. I left it out on the counter to keep on fermenting, and two weeks later it is still there – at least the half a jar I haven’t eaten yet! The kohlrabi is crunchy, tart and pleasantly hot. I’ve been snacking on it most every day, and I like it so much I started a second batch. I used a tablespoon of gochugaru in the first batch, which proved to be a bit much for my wimpy taste buds, so I cut it back by half for the second jar. I also used a bit less soy and fish sauce this time. The above photo doesn’t really do it justice, since you can’t smell or taste it, but at least you can see what the finished product looks like.
In other fermenting news, I’ve been practicing my sourdough bread baking skills lately. I’m taking an online class to see if I can learn any new tricks, and that required baking a loaf over the weekend. I shaped the dough into a batard, then baked on a hot pizza stone. Before baking, I spritzed the top of the dough with water and then covered with the top of a turkey roaster to keep in the steam. The end result was a tangy bread with a crackly crust and a nice open crumb. It was underproofed a bit, but still quite edible.
Now I’m looking forward to more sourdough baking adventures in the weeks to come. I tend to bake more bread in winter, since that is prime soup season here, and to me nothing goes better together than homemade bread and a bowl of soup. I’m glad the gym membership is paid up, because I’m going to need to amp up my exercise routine if I keep on baking more bread!
That’s one of the biggest benefits from making your own, you can adjust things to your taste. I’m with you on spicy…I enjoy it, but I generally lean towards more flavour and less heat.
We are big bread lovers here & nothing says YUM like a loaf of freshly baked bread.
Do you find the gochugaru to be unique compared to other peppers that you’ve grown? Perhaps you’ve already found some seeds…
Oh, I know the feeling about bread. I finally figured out how to bake a really good loaf of bread with a natural yeast starter and of course that’s just when I cut back on eating carbs. Oh well, there are some things that I just can’t give up – bread is back, carbs be damned.
I was surprised that the gochugaru wasn’t as hot as I expected. Which explains why some of the recipes call for so much of it! It does seem to have a lot of flavor, and not as much heat. I’ve got my eyes on a couple of peppers to try next year, including one called Korean Hot and one from Kitazawa called Lady Hermit.
I’ve cut back on carbs and sweets, but I can’t give up bread either. When I do eat it I try and eat really GOOD bread, and the natural yeast breads are some of the tastiest I bake. I broke down and bought a clay baker, and that will call for more experimentation too!