spicy silky fermented kim chi

IMG_7601I’ve been asked a few times to post a “normal” kim chi recipe, the ubiquitous kind at Korean restaurants, with napa cabbage and spicy sauce.  Your wish is my command.

The last time I made this recipe, I was teaching a demo on fermentation to the brand spankin’ new Master Food Preserver class of 2014, and I had the distinct pleasure of horrifying our eminent leader, Nellie Oehler of Dutch extraction, who likes her pickles sweet but still gamely tried a piece of my kim chi.  Her face reminded me that this is not a recipe for everyone.  But as she said, smiling as she grimaced, “I’ll try anything once!”  And so should we all.

I like this recipe because it retains the spiciness and color better and has a lovely silky texture, thanks to the porridge made of sweet rice powder that binds everything together. The porridge, I believe, is a style of the south.

I never hesitate to throw in seasonal vegetables: the last batch I made contained cubed tiny turnips and young daikon with their leaves from the farmers market (thanks, Groundwork Organics!) and strippings from the aging kale in my garden.  You might experiment with fresh new carrots, thinly sliced green garlic, garlic scapes, radishes…the list goes on.

If you’re a fan of kim chi or want to see more background on kim chi techniques, you might want to read my daikon cube kim chi and white kim chi with pear recipes, too.  Add some shiso pickle and salted cucumber slices with sesame seeds, and you’ll be well on your way to a fancy Korean banchan (set of kim chi dishes that accompany meals).

Spicy Silky Kim Chi

Yield: varies, about two quarts when finished.

  • 1 ½ lbs. white napa cabbage
  • 1 small Korean radish (“moo”) or enough daikon for 2-3 cups cubes
  • brine: 2 tablespoons salt plus 5 cups water
  • 3-4 medium cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1-2 tablespoons chopped ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup Korean salted shrimp, minced*
  • 1/3 cup fine (vs. coarse) Korean red pepper powder (“gochu karu”)
  • porridge: 1/2 cup water plus 1 tablespoon sweet rice powder**
  • 1 bunch scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1-2 cups shredded young kale, mustard, or turnip greens
  • 1 small Asian pear or green apple, thinly sliced into matchsticks

The night before you plan to make the kim chi, rinse and cut the cabbage into 2-inch square (no larger) pieces.  Peel and cut the radish into thinly sliced half-moons. Toss radish and cabbage, then add a brine made out the salt and water. Let mixture sit in bowl on counter for 8-12 hours.

Wash your hands, counter, and cooking equipment well. Drain the brine from the vegetables and prepare the kimchi souse and rice porridge.

For the porridge, add 1/2 cup of cold water to a saucepan, then add immediately the sweet rice powder. On medium low, whisk the powder into a solution, and cook for a few minutes, whisking constantly, to create a sauce the texture of paste. Let cool on the stove.

For the souse, make a paste in a food processor with the garlic, ginger, sugar and shrimp.

Mix the souse, porridge, and the red pepper powder into the cabbage and radish mixture well with your hands (you might want to use gloves if your hands are sensitive to spice), massaging spices into the cabbage.  Add a little bit of water to ensure everything is nice and pasty, and the souse covers the cubes.  Add the scallions, greens, and Asian pear slivers, and mix well.

Place the kim chi in a half-gallon or larger-sized glass jar that has been thoroughly cleaned and sterilized.  I use a 3L hinged jar without the rubber ring, so I can close the jar but not seal it.  It helps to use a canning funnel to get the stuff into the jar — you’ll get red pepper paste everywhere.

Let sit on the counter for about 2 days, mixing and pushing down the vegetables into the souse.  After it starts to bubble, let rest in the refrigerator for 5 days before eating.  You can actually eat the stuff at any point from right after you make it onward, but it tastes better after a few days.  It will keep in the refrigerator for a month or so, but the flavor will change over time.

*Purchase at an Asian grocery store like Sunrise, available in the refrigerated section. The shrimp should be tiny and bright pink and very salty.

**I use Mochiko, a Japanese brand, which is widely available, but you can buy it in bulk at Market of Choice.

Advertisements

ryan’s resurrection: a tale of lovage and a bloody mary worth your suffering

IMG_4355IMG_4353

What’s not to love about the unmistakable, vibrantly herbal blast of lovage?  It’s as if a posh designer got hold of celery and added psychedelic green flowers to the scent, and thinned out the stalks into slender hollow tubes, coiffed by fringed leaves. Growing perennially over six feet high in the garden, and in unimproved clay-dense soil in the shade yet, it’s one of the first plants up in the spring and a Willamette Valley gardener’s dream.  It can easily get out of hand once established, so you’ll have to plan well and use the leaves and stalks in many culinary preparations.  The tender shoots that emerge in the spring are particularly good, and lack the bitterness of the older leaves.

Lovage, with its aggressive parsley, celery seed, and lemon zest notes, marries well with egg, lemon, cucumber, potatoes, chicken, and beef.  Although it’s been a garden favorite for several thousands of years and considered an aphrodisiac, it was much more of a staple for the Romans who used the seeds and dried leaves, and the kitchen staff of Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne, who were directed to plant it in all his gardens.  Indeed, its dramatic stage presence and tendency to bulldoze other flavors in a recipe has frightened off the timid.

Read more about the ancient connections and do sample my own recipes for Roman stuffed eggs influenced by Apicius, or a potato salad with lovage and pine nuts.  You might also try a beef stroganoff with lovage, sunchokes and celery, a Romanian meatball and lovage soup called ciorba de perisoare, a mackerel and lovage tart from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall for your boldest companions and a petits pois/lettuce/lovage soup for the others, or even lovage in a Scottish breakfast sandwich described by vegetarian culinarian Deborah Madison in her homage to the herb.

As pictured above, one can serve hollow lovage stalks as a straw in any suitable drink, even water, topped with a jaunty leaf hat.  It makes for a refreshing afternoon delight after weeding your back 40.

Or you might just enjoy lovage in a cocktail, a spicy Bloody Mary of epic proportions from my colleague and co-host on Food for Thought on KLCC, Ryan Stotz.  It’s a perfect drink for Easter brunch, surely a hell of a lot better than nasty jelly beans and low-quality chocolate hollow eggs made tinny by foil.  You might try it with a rabbit porcetta and salad of wild arugula and little Western bittercress with roasted beet.  Or just a liquid lunch?  In any case, if you’re as much of a fan of Ryan’s as I am, you’ll immediately recognize his almost freakishly honed wine professional nose and palate at work here, like a little devious bunny rabbit.  And don’t fret too much about the ingredient list — even Ryan admits it can be flexible with what you’ve got on hand.  But do try the original when you’re feeling the need for an extravagant and special sunny March morning with your own fine self.

Happy Easter!

Ryan’s Resurrection

Makes one pint.

In a metal tumbler, aggressively muddle the following into a coarse paste. This will take fucking forever and ruin your muddling hand for the day:

  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns (it’s worth getting Penzey’s Whole Special Extra Bold Indian Peppercorns for this)
  • 1 tablespoon Sarawak white peppercorns
  • 1 healthy dash celery seed
  • 1 teaspoon dill seed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 Piquin chili peppers
  • 1/2 teaspoon horseradish powder (again, it’s worth getting Penzey’s for this)
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 4 or 5 large lovage leaves
  • 2″ length lemongrass, finely minced
  • Zest of 2 key limes (or just juice the limes, reserve the juice and toss in the peels)

Add the following and stir:

  • Juice of 2 key limes
  • 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish (at least; I usually add more)
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 10 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 5 dashes Red Boat fish sauce (I used and loved Three Crabs brand for years, but seriously, the difference between that and Red Boat is like the difference between Cook’s and vintage Krug)
  • 20 dashes Crystal Hot Sauce
  • 10 dashes Tabasco regular
  • 3 dashes Tabasco habanero sauce
  • 5 dashes Bittermens or Scrappy’s celery bitters
  • 2 tablespoons home-fermented pepper sauce (Culinaria Eugenius’ recipe) or Korean red pepper paste (ssamjang)
  • 1 teaspoon Pickapeppa sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Datu Puti spiced vinegar

Add ice, the following, and shake:

  • 3 oz. Tabasco Spicy Bloody Mary mix
  • 3 oz. Spicy V8 or Spicy Clamato
  • 3 oz. vodka (who cares what brand, it’s vodka)

Strain into an ice-filled pint glass. Sprinkle on some celery salt,
add a couple dashes more celery bitters, garnish the ever-loving shit
out of it, and drink.

(Recipe courtesy of Ryan Stotz.)

queen of hungary water

IMG_3045

I love the idea of Queen of Hungary water, often credited as the world’s first alcohol-based perfume.  The original idea is lovely: a medieval distilled rosemary flower infusion made in the spring when the violet-colored little blossoms burst open and can be preserved in a strong spirit.  And that time, my friends, is now.

Jennifer Heise, a SCA educator and herbalist, provides a helpful history of Queen of Hungary water, including some court intrigue and speculation about which queen of Hungary may have been the first to use it, plus some good ol’ medieval advice about taking the water to heal your withered limbs.  I based my recipe off Heise’s research and experimentation with liquids and herbs, deciding that I would try only the flowers and flower buds of rosemary, since i have them.  I also added a few buds of my lemon-scented Greek bay flowers that are forming now, thinking “if it grows together, it goes together.”  It smells quite nice already, just 16 hours or so after I did my plucking.

498px-Titian_Venus_Mirror_(furs)And why did I make this?  Well, it’s the name, really.  Queen of Hungary.  There she is.  A queen swathed in auburn fur — fur collar and cuffs and a giant fur hat with a spring of rosemary for a flourish.  It’s probably too warm in Hungary for all that, but in my mind she’s the Sacher-Masoch tyrant in Titian red.  Black kidskin gloves and a little riding crop. Hot temper. Her lips are reddened by paprika and she pinches her cheeks to bring out the glow when she’s not out taming wild Magyar horses or shouting orders to the cavalry. Queen of Hungary, a hungry queen.  Not hungry in the way I’m hungry, which is for some lunch.  But hungry in a mad way, hungry for the Austro-Hungarian empire.

Sigh. I’ve written about her before.  I’ve turned her into a winter squash recipe, even, Squash Whip Queen of Hungary, and wrote about her for the Eugene Weekly.  I love that combination of rosemary, bourbon, and sweet dark orange squash.  I still see her in all those colors.

But now it’s spring, and now I’m thinking I might play up the green of it all. Heise notes one can use the Queen as a period-appropriate perfumes for SCA events and the like, but I wonder if the perfume will really linger.  I’ll likely use the concoction cut with a little water as a skin toner.  Or if things get much worse, I’ll just drink it with a little bubbly and lemon as a Hungarian 75.

UPDATE 4/29:  The queen has turned warm brown and sweet.  It wasn’t at all what I expected!  The flavors are like a soft brown bread, wholly unlike rosemary at all, and the tincture is the color of vanilla extract (so it would stain the skin if used as perfume.  Hm.  Am thinking I should have followed the advice of the recipe more closely to use dried herbs and not flowers.  More experimentation to come with the tincture!

Queen of Hungary Water

  • As many rosemary flowers and flowerbuds as you can pick, separated from the green resinous leaves
  • 100-proof vodka
  • optional, one or a few of the following: a swath of orange or lemon peel, a few bay buds, lemon balm

Pick flowers and buds, being careful to pick on a dry day in the morning for maximum scent.  Spread out on a tray to remove browned bits and let bugs reveal themselves.  Do not rinse, just shake a little and clear out detritus.  Add flowers and buds and optional add-ons to a jar, packing lightly, then top with vodka.  You want to aim for half flowers, half vodka, but it’s not a precise measurement.

I’ll revise the recipe once I know how mine turns out.

red chile sauce and farmers on the radio today at noon

IMG_4328

We eat bean-and-greens tacos about once a week at home, but because I always have fermented hot sauce or summer salsa hanging around in the refrigerator, I haven’t experimented much with all the peppers I dried last year.  When I saw an experimental recipe for dried pepper ferments in the fabulous preservation blog Well Preserved, I remembered that I (1) grew a bunch of Central American chiles this year instead of the Hungarian ones I’ve been growing for years; and (2) dried a bunch of ripe pasillas (which grow very well here, by the way) and other peppers that were languishing in my cupboard.

So red chile sauce it was.  Relying on a Diana Kennedy classic recipe, I knew I couldn’t buy fresh tomatoes at this point in the dead of winter, so I used up my last jar of canned tomato sauce, the frozen tomato sauce having been long depleted.  Because I wouldn’t be able to char the sauce as I’d char the skin of fresh tomatoes for more flavor, I decided to throw in a pretty little ice-cubed block of tomato paste that I managed to put up last fall.  It turns out the tomato paste is crucial for body in the salsa, so don’t omit, even if you’re using fresh tomatoes.  If you’re purchasing your tomato products, you might want to buy a can of tomato puree instead of diced tomatoes, because it’s thicker and sweeter.

I was less interested in authentic flavors than in just getting rid of my chiles, so an Ethiopian brown, scorchingly hot beriberi pepper and I’m sure a Hungarian pepper or two snuck in there.  You will probably be more discriminating.  Also, note that you won’t be able to get the silky smooth texture without a blender, so don’t even try it.  A good local bean for the tacos?  Brighstone, a hearty pinto-like bean, which is a new discovery by Adaptive Seeds/Open Oak Farm this year.

And if you’re interested in farming, Central America, or how things grow in places involving the word Willamette, you’ll most definitely want to check out our radio show, Food for Thought on KLCC Sunday at noon (PST) on 89.7FM in Eugene, or its sister stations in Oregon, or live on the web.  Boris and I are trying something new, an interview with farmer/musician Joshua James, who is performing songs from his new album, From the Top of Willamette Mountain, at Sam Bonds tonight.  We’ll also be joined by someone we’ve wanted to have on the show for a long time: Sarah Cantril, Executive Director of Huerto de la Familia, an agriculture and micro-business educational non-profit that teaches community integration, economic self-sufficiency, and organic farming skills to Latino families in Lane County.  Listen in or be square!

Red Chile Sauce

  • 6-8 medium-sized long dried peppers, such as guajillo, pasilla, or the like
  • 1 large garlic clove, sliced
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes (top quality fresh or canned)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup water (optional if your tomatoes are very juicy, or you’re using canned)
  • salt to taste

Toast peppers and sliced garlic, being careful not to let the peppers burn.  Preheat a cast iron skillet over medium heat, then add the dried peppers and garlic, pressing them down and turning them over every few seconds until the peppers can be crumbled and you can smell the toasted smell.

Remove from heat. Let peppers and garlic cool until easy to handle.

If you are using fresh tomatoes, char the skins over a gas burner or on the same hot cast-iron skillet, then peel off most of the blackened parts, before dicing.

Place tomatoes, tomato paste, and optional water in a blender.  Add garlic.  Remove stems and seeds from chiles, then crumble pepper shells into blender.  Blend for a few minutes on high, until the sauce is very integrated and smooth.  Add salt to taste.

Refrigerate and use within a few days on anything that could use a nice kick of red sauce.

culinaria eugenius in indiana: mulberries and dumplings

 

Who snapped the most perfect picture when she was eating mulberries off a giant mulberry tree on the Indiana University campus and a lady with a black parasol in full Goth lace regalia strolled by? This girl.

And who found good Sichuan food in the middle of nowhere?  This girl. (At Lucky Express, a little hole-in-the-wall in Bloomington on 3rd.)

And who ate pickled herring at an Irish pub last night?  You guessed it.

Step it up, Eugene!

run, run, as fast as you can; you can’t catch the strawberry shortcake man

Gruel in action, snack after the Spring Classic duathlon in Portland.  After three legs of running, biking, and running again, Retrogrouch finished in the middle of the pack for his age group.  Not too shabby for a first timer!  Even more amazing, given that he’s only been running for a year or so. Check out that calf!

The leather saddle stands alone.

I had to capture the post-race eats, of course, which Retrogrouch calls “sugary crap.”  He had a point.

I had escaped the sun (!) to sit under the tent and read my book on anorexia in literature.  Naturally, I was distracted by the candy strewn about on all the tables.  This horrible blond woman, whose aggressive, hypermasculine husband was one of the early finishers, walked into my shot.  I said, brightly, oh, I’m so glad you’re here so I can include your strawberry shortcake in my photo!  She shrank away, so as not to associate herself with the dessert, saying “you want to take a PICTURE of that?”

Well, yes.  They serve candy, big hunks of honey-wheatish bread, HFCS peanut butter and jelly, cookies, whipped cream, shortcake, and Genuine Muscle Milk (“contains no milk”) as a reward for exercise.  I think that’s worth documenting and pondering.  What does it mean that we’re encouraged to eat foods we otherwise demonize as a reward for socially acceptable behavior?

Evolve?  I’m pretty sure I’d rather be primordial.  No offense.

They did have a form of gruel for people like Retrogrouch, though, steelcut oats with craisins.  He partook in this delight after finishing his own gruel.

Suffice it to say that I opted instead for a big, delicious bowl of bun bo hue at Pho Dalat down the street from the race venue. “Dingy like an old Denny’s,” a Yelp review accurately notes, but excellent and unusual spicy beef pho with brisket, tendon, and thin slices of pig’s blood cake in a pork broth, with accompaniments of Thai basil, cilantro, lime, jalapeno, bean sprouts, and shredded cabbage.

Beautiful, sunny Sunday in a great city.  Happy Easter from Portland!

niblets: red carpet edition

 

Congratulations to Chef Brendan Mahaney of Belly for his James Beard Award nomination for Best Chef Northwest!  This award is one of the biggest honors in the culinary industry.  Images above are from my very first meal at Belly, dining al fresco with Retrogrouch in July 2008.  That beet-cabbage-parsley salad with a side of crème fraîche is still one of my favorite salads ever.

But an important omission, Mr. Beard & Associates: Chef Gabriel Gil of Rabbit Bistro, who was invited to the Beard House last year.  Boo.  You know what makes me excited, though?  Both Belly and Rabbit are moving to more spacious kitchens downtown, so the best is yet to come.  Watch out, Eugene.

Let’s not forget to congratulate fellow nominee Chef Matt Bennett of Albany’s Sybaris, here leading a round of applause for his staff at the Albany Carousel Dinner with Chef Brian Polcyn, and former Eugene bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s Clyde Common in PDX for Outstanding Bar Program.

On the local front, see Chef Corey Wisun of Falling Sky Brewing in action, making cod over greens with pesto, on a relatively new and respectably produced segment, KVAL’s Tasty Tuesday.  I’m always horrified when I see food coverage on our local stations since it’s clear none of the reporters have ever been to a restaurant.  But Tony Gist seems to be clued in and articulate about food.  I hope they realize it and treat him well.

Marché’s own sous Chef Crystal Platt has been making local headlines among Those In The Know for her chicken croquettes served à la Buffalo, seasoned with hot sauce, Rogue Oregon Blue cheese, and served with a celery salad.  If you haven’t been to the pleasant new bar with the eponymous name, check it out.  Marché is serving breakfast now, too.

And speaking of new interpretations of Buffalo wings:

Yum yum, no?  Hot Mama’s Wings on 13th.  It’s really a cozy little place.  Clockwise from the top:  hot wings that taste a different than the normal Buffalo, glorious bleu cheese bacon, Thai peanut (a little gloopy for me), and sweet-hot raspberry chipotle.  (A p.s. from this perpetually grumpy correspondent to the perpetually grumpy server: a little hospitality makes everyone feel better.)

And last but not least in VIP news, spring is here.  Time to start thinking of tilling and starting seeds!  I suspect it’s going to be another distracted and travel-heavy summer for me, so no expansion planned, but will manage the usual.  If that’s not on your plate, consider a CSA this year.  You can meet potential farms and farmers at this Willamette Farm and Food Coalition event:

13th Annual – That’s My Farmer! Event
TUESDAY, MARCH 13th
5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
First United Methodist Church
1376 Olive Street (Eugene)

$5-15 donation goes to subsidize CSA shares for low-income families

Hope to see you there!