Allysia’s Ukranian background often leads us to some incredibly delicious foods
, but a short while ago she decided to embark on a little food adventure. As any Ukranian knows, fermented cabbage is an essential component of life itself. While we would certainly not argue with them, the world of fermented cabbage seems to be open to interpretation and experimentation. We decided to make our first attempt at a fairly simple, modified sauerkraut based on one of my new-found-favourite condiments, Korean kimchi.
Makes approximately two cups of sauerkraut
1 small head green cabbage, shredded
1 teaspoon salt*
1 inch ginger root, peeled and julienned
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1-2 tablespoons red pepper powder**
1 large outer leaf of cabbage
*I am not normally one to advocate the use of fancy salts, but this is a time when high-quality sea salt is an absolute necessity. Cheaper salts are loaded with iodine that is harmless to humans (and technically an essential mineral), but strong enough to kill off the bacteria needed to ferment the cabbage.
**the red pepper powder should be some sort of pure pepper powder, not a blend, and certainly not American-style chili powder. We used an Asian red pepper powder. Be sure to taste the powder before use, as some of them can be extremely hot (like ours!).
1. Once the cabbage is shredded, toss it into a bowl with the salt. Massage the cabbage vigorously for ten minutes until it has released a lot of water. The cabbage should now be soft and partially broken down.
2. Add the ginger, garlic, and red pepper powder to the cabbage and mix until uniform.
3. Sterilize a 2 cup mason jar by boiling it, with the lid, in a pot of water. When the jar is ready, remove it from the pot with tongs and press the cabbage mixture in it. Be sure to include the liquid from the cabbage! Fill the mason jar and press the kraut mixture very firmly, trying to keep everything submerged under the liquid. If you’ve made a mess on the rim of the jar, be sure to wipe it down. Use the reserved cabbage leaf as a sort of packing material to hold down the kraut. Screw the lid on tight.
4. The kraut needs to ferment somewhere between 3 and 7 days. Every day you should open the jar and make sure that the large cabbage leaf is still holding the kraut underneath the liquid. Adjust it if needed. After three days you can start tasting your kraut to see if it is to your liking. We left ours for five days and it was deliciously fermented. Discard the large leaf when kraut is ready, and store in the fridge.
Our kimchi-meets-kraut experiment certainly yielded delicious results. The cabbage, ginger and garlic taste amazing when fermented together, and the red pepper powder gives it an incredibly strong kick. Most red pepper powders work well for this – it won’t be as authentic if you don’t use Korean pepper powder, but it will still taste awesome. As mentioned above, just be sure to avoid chili pepper blends (which have cumin and salt added to them), as well as red pepper flakes – they are not finely ground enough to tint the kimchi that classic orange hue.