As I walked out of Badseed Farmers’ Market one Friday night last December, Laura Christensen’s Napa cabbage caught my eye.
The Napa, big and oblong, had bright green crinkly leaves at the top and sturdy white bottoms where Christensen, owner of Blue Door Farm, harvested them fresh from her field. Christensen offered me one for $5, well below the marked price, before I could even say hello. She must have seen the wheels turning in my head. Minutes later I headed out the door with what seemed like a 10-pound head of cabbage.
At home I researched kimchi recipes. While certainly nothing new, fermented foods including kombucha, kimchi and yogurt were gaining popularity for their health benefits such as aiding digestion and supporting the immune system.
I found a couple of reasonable recipes that I blended together and made my own. That one Napa cabbage made three quarts and this first batch was good. So good I ate it with everything for 10 days straight. I mixed kimchi with rice, ate it out of the jar, pureed a quart and used it as pizza sauce and as a base for pork chili, topped scallion pancakes with it, made lettuce wraps, and shared it with friends.
Earlier this year I grabbed a head at the first sight of cabbage, found a new recipe and made more kimchi. Not as pleased with this batch — too salty and too spicy — I let much of it go to waste. Not deterred by a failure in the kitchen I marched on and recently came home with three types of cabbage — Napa, Green and Savoy — to try a new recipe.
I used the same recipe for all three types of cabbage and must say it’s my best batch yet. Each type of cabbage lends a different texture and crunch and after the kimchi settles from an initial kick to the taste buds it’s not too salty or spicy with just the right mix of ginger and garlic.Kimchi 1 head of cabbage 1 tablespoon salt for each pound of cabbage 1 bunch scallions cut in one-inch pieces 2 cloves garlic 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled 1 tablespoon fish sauce 1-1/2 tablespoons Sriracha sauce 1/2 tablespoons honey
Quarter and core the cabbage and cut crosswise in one-inch pieces. Sprinkle with salt and let sit for 2 hours. Drain the cabbage, rinse well and squeeze dry. Place the garlic, ginger, fish sauce, Sriracha sauce and honey in a food processor and pulse until a paste forms.
Mix the cabbage, scallions and paste in a large bowl. It is spicy so be careful of the paste getting on hands. Pack clean glass jars with the kimchi, cover it tightly and place in a dark spot at room temperature. Check it after 1 to 2 days and place it in the refrigerator after it begins to bubble.
Let it sit in the refrigerator for at least one week (I recommend two) before enjoying. After that it’s good refrigerated for a couple weeks.
Raised by generations of cooks, farmers and green thumbs, Andrea Shores is an enthusiastic eater and curious cook. She loves sharing her passion for local food by telling farmers’ and food purveyors’ stories.