First-time fermenting: Mini cucumber kimchi

Friday, February 13, 2015

A wall filled of lettuce in Paradizoo, Mendez, Cavite

Work called on a Saturday and we had to head to Paradizoo, a theme farm in Mendez, Cavite. Rather than experiencing a painfully boring farm tour and discussion, I was amazed at the abundance of vegetables cultivated and most especially these miniature cucumbers!

How happy we were when we found out that these cucumbers were for sale. My officemates mentioned that they will make kimchi out of the cucumbers and two days after, I had a taste of her creation. It was delicious, although she only mixed it with chili and water.

At first, I thought I can consume these tiny cucumbers myself, adding it onto my salad for dinner but I realized there are too many. So I decided to make my own kimchi. Currently, my kimchi is fermenting on its third day. The taste is sour at first then the spiciness creeps on your throat. I think I put too many chili powder as my lips sting a bit while eating it.

I followed Kitchn's recipe from here: I picked this recipe out of the many recipes available on the Web because it requires only one to two hours of submersion in the brine. Also because it's easy to follow based on the way it's presented.

Some recipes mention that you can make kimchi out of any vegetable and this is no exception, with these mini cucumbers. It's fun to see the liquid happily bubbling inside while it ferments!

Some points I'd like to share which I researched from the Web:
  1. Be wary of your water. Use distilled or filtered water instead of chlorinated water that can come from the tap. One recipe says that chlorinated water can prevent the fermentation process.
  2. Asian chili works well as gochugaru. You don't need to look for gochugaru to make kimchi. If you live in an Asian country, you can find chili powder that is not Mexican-based. Basically it's just powdered red chili pepper, period. Mexican chili powder is a mixture of chili and other spices like cumin, oregano, and garlic - you don't want those in your kimchi.
  3. Use of porridge to make better chili paste. A recipe from Maangchi, recommends the use of porridge or a mix of sweet rice flour, water, and sugar to make a chili paste that is not too sticky and can spread easier on the vegetable. Update: Did this on my new batch of cabbage kimchi and not only did the paste smell good, it also held and retained the chili powder and other spices better. 
  4. Use salt water when the need arises. If you notice that the liquid in your kimchi has not risen from fermentation, you can add salted water (1 tsp salt to 1 cup of water) to cover the vegetables.
  5. Make sure there won't be molds. Make sure that your container has a tight cap, which would avoid air from getting in and making molds.
  6. Release the gas and bubbles. Release any bubbles or gas from the kimchi by pressing the vegetables down to submerge it under the liquid.
  7. Place it in the fridge. Once you think the vegetables taste the way you like it - place it in the fridge.

Then, finally, you can enjoy it as a side dish, for your kimchi fried rice, or even your kimchi stew. Nomnomnom!

Other interesting photos from Paradizoo:

Oyster mushrooms being cultivated

Mickey mouse plant, which is a kind of eggplant. Not edible though.

Abundance of Chinese Cabbage

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