Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Fun Fermenting!

Over the early May Bank Holiday I was lucky enough to be invited to Bristol Food Connections, a great food festival in Bristol that includes workshops  tastings, talks, plus a lot more.  The whole event is sponsored by Great Western Railway so not only did I get to taste great food, I also travelled down to Bristol in style on the train, something I don't normally do, but really enjoyed relaxing and watching the world go by instead of sitting in traffic and panicking to find parking!
One of the workshops I attended was 'Gather, Ferment, Flame' where Matthew Pennington from The Ethicurean and Gill Mellor from River Cottage cooked some fun dishes using foods they had gathered, or were produced locally.  The great thing was the lack of facilities (they were using a camping stove!) which was perfect for showing just how simple cooking can and should be.
It certainly is a great time for foraging, and on my return I was out in the Chiltern hills, basket in hand and returned home to make a delicious citrus nettle pesto.
But the fermenting demo got me all fired up again, as I love the idea that eating something really tasty is also going to help feed your gut with healthy bacteria.  There are lots of fermented foods you can try and if you need inspiration take a look at 'Fermented' by Charlotte Pike.
The recipe below is for a Korean pickle called kimchi, which is served with almost everything in Korea!  It can be quite spicy and hot, so once you've made it and know how much heat and spice you can stand you can then change it to suit your taste.  Kimchi is made by lacto-fermentation, so no vinegar is used.  


Makes approx 1 kg

1 large Chinese cabbage, thickly sliced
200g radish, thinly sliced
1 banana shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
40g sea salt
50g fresh ginger, peeled 
50g garlic, peeled 
2 tbsp Thai fish sauce
2 tsp chilli flakes (you can add more if wished)
3 tsp sugar

  • Place the cabbage, radish and shallot into a bowl with the salt and rub the salt into the vegetables.
  • Pour in 1-2 litres of water so the vegetables are covered, then leave to stand for 4 hours.
  • Meanwhile, place the ginger and garlic in a small blender and blend until well broken down.  Add the fish sauce, chilli flakes and sugar and blend again.
  • Drain the vegetables, retaining some of the brine.  Pack the vegetables into sterilised jars (you can do this simply by placing them in a cool oven for 20 minutes), then pour in enough brine to cover by about 1 cm.
  • Cover loosely and leave to stand at room temperature for 1-5 days, pressing the vegetables down below the liquid each day with a metal spoon.
  • After this time taste the kimchi and when it's the flavour and strength you like, place it somewhere cold.  It will keep for 4-6 weeks.

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