Celebrating the Autumnal Equinox with Kimchi

City dwellers and farmers alike are welcoming the end of summer and the start of all that comes with autumn—the equinox is upon us, at last! While harvesting the bounty of our latest season at Ujima, Slow Food NYC’s community farm resource in Brooklyn, we found ourselves with an abundance of cabbage. Of course, we knew we’d put our plenty to good use with nothing going to waste.

What is one to do? Enter: kimchi, a fermented classic hailing from Korean cuisine. With wheelbarrows of freshly plucked cabbages waiting for their moment, we asked our urban farmer Jonathan Blumberg for his method that celebrates preservation and traditions of the table.

 Photo Credit: Alexander Craig

Photo Credit: Alexander Craig

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See below for Jonathan’s go-to recipe that our visiting students have been enjoying. To note, Napa cabbage, specifically, is best for this purpose. If you have cabbages in your kitchen that are not of the Napa variety (like those pictured above from our farm), ferment away towards the sauerkraut recipe of your choosing instead.

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Autumnal Equinox Kimchi

Ingredients

1 Napa cabbage, cut into 2-inch strips (try a nearby farmer’s market)

1/4-1/2 cup kosher salt

2 tablespoons garlic, minced

2 tablespoons ginger, minced

1 teaspoon sugar

1/4 cup of fish sauce (we like using Red Boat)

3 tablespoons water

4 tablespoons red pepper flakes

1 large daikon radish, peeled and cut into 1-inch matchsticks

2 bunches green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces

Preparation

1.   Put Napa cabbage in a large bowl and sprinkle with salt. Mix thoroughly using gloves, if preferred. Place a heavy pot or pan on top with weights and allow cabbage to sit for 1-2 hours until wilted and water has been released.

2.   Discard water after 1-2 hours. Rinse the cabbage 2-3 times in the sink until salt is removed and allow to drain in a colander for another 15-20 minutes.

3.   Combine Napa cabbage with remaining ingredients (through water) and mix. Using gloves, add the red pepper flakes and begin mixing and rubbing flakes into the mixture.

4.   Once combined, place mixture in a jar pressing down and packing tightly so that the mixture is submerged in its own liquid. Place top on jar and allow to sit at room temperature for 2-5 days. Place jar on a plate since the mixture may bubble over while fermenting.

5.   Each day of fermentation, remove the lid to release gases and press down on the mixture to keep it submerged. You can taste a sample each day to decide if the level of fermentation is to your liking.

6.   After 2-5 days of fermentation, store kimchi in refrigerator.

7.   Enjoy! We eat our kimchi straight out of the jar and incorporated into meals for a healthy dose of gut-healthy probiotics.

Recipe adapted from this original source.

 Photo Credit: Alexander Craig

Photo Credit: Alexander Craig

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Words by Alexander Craig, Slow Food NYC Board Member