My nasturtiums always go a bit crazy over summer, self-seeding everywhere and covering my terraces in a green blanket. I use the flower petals in salad and pickle the seed pods but their beautiful green leaves are often missed, and they too are peppery and delicious and so good for you!
They are nature’s antibiotic, packed full of vitamin C so it is only fitting that I write up a nasturtium recipe now that it is winter.
Nasturtiums are frost tender so harvest them now before it’s too late!
Today’s recipe is my take on a nasturtium ‘kimchi’ style sauerkraut. Kimchi is the spicy fermented vegetable dish that’s a staple in Korean cuisine. It traditionally uses napa cabbage and Korean radish, similar to daikon and it’s mixed with gochugara chilli pepper, garlic, ginger and fish sauce or shrimp paste.
There are over 200 kinds of known kimchi as the ingredients change depending on the region, or what’s in season. I’m going to add to that number with this version. I barely had any of the traditional ingredients, except for garlic, ginger and fish sauce but I had enough substitutes to make something that tastes delicious and resembles a Kimchi inspired sauerkraut.
Both Kimchi and Sauerkraut use lacto-fermentation. This is a process in which lactobacillus bacteria convert sugars and lactose in the vegetables into lactic acid. The end result is a tangy mix of fermented vegetables that are packed with flavour and probiotics.
The nasturtiums have a radish-like, peppery taste so this made a great substitute for the Korean radish, taste-wise. Obviously, nasturtium leaves don’t have the crunchy texture that radish does so the crunch came from the cabbage.
The main flavours in kimchi come from the fish sauce, chilli, garlic and ginger, so the vegetables you choose to add can be up to you. Using the stalks of vegetables such as silverbeet, broccoli, cauliflower and spinach is a great way to add texture.
Fish sauce adds amazing flavour but if you are vegan or vegetarian, you can substitute the fish sauce for some chopped up nori (seaweed).
Fresh cayenne chilli substituted the traditional dried gochugaru chilli. This means my version lacks that brilliant red that traditional kimchi has.
The first step is to massage the cabbage, nasturtium and onion with salt. This releases all the juices in the vegetables and will create the brine that they will ferment in.
A bit of heavy-handed massaging can release those juices pretty quickly but placing a weight on top of the vegetables (like a plate with something heavy on it) can do the work for you. Just leave it to sit on the vegetables for an hour or so.
Garlic, chilli, ginger and fish sauce are blitzed into a paste and added to the vegetable mix. Then it’s squished down into a clean and sterilised jar. Squish it down as firmly as you can so all the liquid rises to the top.
When you jar your vegetables, they need to stay submerged under the brine. This stops any oxygen touching the vegetables and stops mould or bad bacteria growing on them.
You can use a cabbage leaf or a large nasturtium leaf to help hold the vegetables down in the brine. I’m using a large nasturtium leaf and a glass fermenting weight to hold it down.
Once in the jar, put a lid on it and leave it for 24 hours. Unless you have a special fermenting valve which allows gas to escape, you’ll need to ‘burp’ your jar after the 24 hours. This means, letting the natural gases that have started building up, out. If you miss this step your jar can explode. Then leave your kimchi to ferment in a cupboard for 2-5 more days, burping and tasting it daily until it’s to your liking. Then store in the fridge for up to a month.
‘Kimchi’ Style Sauerkraut with Nasturtiums
- 2 cups chopped nasturtium leaves
- 4 cups chopped or shredded cabbage (or a mix of any other vegetables with crunch eg. carrots, Radish, stalks of broccoli, cauliflower, silverbeet…)
- 1 small yellow onion diced (or 3-4 spring onions)
- 3 tbsp rock salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 3 cm fresh ginger
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2-3 fresh chopped red chiili or 2 tbsp dried chili flakes (add more or less spice depending on your liking)
- In a large bowl add in the nasturtium leaves, shredded cabbage, diced onion and the rock salt. Use your hands to massage the salt in and keep doing so for 10 minutes to release all the juices.Alternatively, massage the salt in for a minute then weigh the vegetables down with a plate and something heavy on top. Leave this to sit for an hour and the juices will be released.
- Blend together the sugar, fish sauce, fresh ginger, garlic and chili to make a sauce.
- Add to the vegetables and mix well
- In a clean and sterilised jar or fermeting crock, add in the vegetables and squish them down well so the juices rise to the top.
- Use a large cabbage or nasturtium leaf to push the vegetables down and keep them submerged under the brine. If you have a glass fermenting weight, use the too.
- Seal the jar or fermenting crock.If you have a valve on your fermenting crock this will allow the gases to escape.If you are using an ordinary jar, after 24 hours ‘burp’ the jar by opening the lid and letting the gases escape.
- Keep the jar in a cupboard at room temperature for 2-5 days, burping it daily. Taste it after 2 days and if tangy to your liking, transfer to the fridge. If not, keep it fermenting a few days longer.
- Once in the refrigerator it will store a month.
Have you made these? Tag me and let me know! @home_grown_happinessnz
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