A kimchi inspired spicy sauerkraut with nasturtium leaves, chilli, garlic and ginger.
This spicy sauerkraut uses cabbage and nasturtiums mixed with a spicy paste. 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.
This spicy sauerkraut recipe is my take on a 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 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.
This spicy sauerkraut is made using a process called 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.
Fermented Nasturtiums and Other Ingredients
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 this spiced sauerkraut comes from the fish sauce, chilli, garlic and ginger.
Fish sauce adds amazing flavour but if you are vegan or vegetarian, you can substitute the fish sauce for miso paste.
Fresh red chilli substituted the traditional dried gochugaru chilli. This means my version lacks that brilliant red that traditional kimchi has.
Making Sauerkraut - Fermenting Equipment
You don’t need anything fancy to ferment foods at home, however there are definitely items you could buy to make the fermentation process that much easier.
- A fermentation vessel, such as a wide mouth mason jar. The wide mouth means it is easy to pack the vegetables into it and the glass means it’s non corrosive and easy to clean. It also fits these fermenting weights and airlocks.
- A weight. Something to hold the produce under the salt-brine. If any vegetables are exposed to oxygen, then there is the chance of mould and bad bacteria growing. I use glass weights, but if you’re after a free option, sterilised river stones (just boil them!) work too.
- An airlock. This is optional, but it is super helpful. As the bacteria grow, they release gases which need to be let out of the jar. An airlock lets out the gas but doesn’t let in oxygen. If you don’t have one, the jar will need to be ‘burped’ regularly to release the gas (which is just unscrewing the lid to release the gases).
- Unrefined salt - I use a natural sea salt
- Water - Filtered water is best to use as chlorine may affect the fermentation process. I personally use my tap water for all my ferments including my sourdough starter and have had no issues with it at all. However, if you feel your water may hinder the process, it might be better to be safe than sorry and use filtered water or tap water that has been boiled and left to cool.
Massaging the Cabbage
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 2 hours.
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, add on an airlock or a lid. If you are using a lid, burp the jar daily to release the trapped gases.
Leave your sauerkraut to ferment in a cupboard for 5-10 days, tasting daily it after 5 days until it's to your liking.
Once fermented, store it in the fridge for up to 6 months.
Want more fermenting recipes? Try fermented chilli sauce!
- 1 kg cabbage, shredded
- 3-4 handfuls nasturtium leaves, chopped
- 1 large brown onion diced or 4 spring onions, chopped
- 30-40g sea salt (2.5% of the total weight of the vegetables)
- 2 Tbsp fish sauce or 1 Tbsp miso paste
- 4 cloves garlic, finely crushed
- 2cm fresh ginger, finely grated
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2-3 fresh chopped red chillies or 1 Tbsp dried chilli flakes, (add more or less spice depending on your liking)
- In a large bowl add in the shredded cabbage, nasturtiums, onion and the sea 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 2-3 hours to release the liquid.
- Mix together the sugar, fish sauce, fresh ginger, garlic and chili to make a paste.
- Add to the vegetables and mix well
- In a clean and sterilised jar add in the vegetables and squish them down well with your hands so the liquid rises 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 that too.
- Seal the jar with a airlock or a lid. If you have an airlock this will allow the gases to escape. If you are using an ordinary jar, 'burp' the jar daily by opening the lid and letting the gases escape.
- Keep the jar in a cupboard at room temperature for 5-10 days. Taste it after 5 days and if tangy to your liking, transfer to the fridge. If not, keep it fermenting a few days longer.
- Once fermented, store it in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.
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Serving Size:1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Unsaturated Fat: 0g
Have you made these? Tag me and let me know! @home_grown_happinessnz