Monday, July 24, 2017

Cucumber Kimchi

My daughter is off for a week with her dad. Just before she left we went to our CSA farm to pick up our vegetables—we have a canvas bag that we can fill with whatever we will consume in a week. I didn't need much, but I think she was worried about leaving me for so long, so she stuffed the bag full—and now I am drowning in produce. I made four loaves of zucchini bread yesterday, and ate zucchini and sweet onions for dinner (nothing else—just the zucchini). Today I have been reveling in salad so that none of the lettuce goes to waste. The carrots and beets will keep for a while, but there's still so much to get through....

She sent me home with three huge cucumbers, too. I couldn't think of what to do with them, until I came across a simple kimchi recipe that I modified to my taste. Like all kimchi, it relies on a natural process of fermentation—a day or two on the counter is all it takes, really. Looks lovely, too.

Cucumber Kimchi
Makes 3 pints

The fermentation happens quickly, though how long it takes is really a matter of taste—test the pickle regularly, and when it has the right level of tang for you, it's done. Store it in the fridge—it won't keep forever like cabbage kimchi will, but it will certainly keep about a month. Kirby cucumbers (the small, bumpy kind) are best for pickling, but I used big slicing cucumbers because that's what I had. 

3 lbs cucumbers, sliced into rounds or half moons, about 1/4", depending on their size
6 tsp Korean sea salt
1/4 c Korean chili powder
1/4 c minced ginger
12 garlic cloves, minced
6 fat scallions, cut into 3" lengths
water as needed

1. In a large bowl, toss all ingredients together (except water). Allow to sit for 30-45 minutes until some of the liquid is released from the cucumbers.

2. Pack vegetables into squeaky clean jars. Add accumulated liquid from the bowl to each jar. Top off each jar with water—the vegetables should be barely submerged.

3. Cover jars and leave on countertop for 1-2 days, depending on your taste. Every 12 hours or so, shake the jars gently to redistribute the brine and open the lid to let the accumulated gas out.

4. When you decide you like the taste, refrigerate the jars and enjoy as a side dish to just about everything.