Here in Texas we’ve been having an unusual amount of rain for the time of year, and this has led to an overabundance of zucchini, even though I only have 2 plants. Not being a huge fan of zucchini as a stand alone vegetable, I decided to try making zucchini kimchi to help use it up in a way that would allow me to also keep it for a little while. I also had small onions and garlic in the garden so I had a rummage through the pantry to see if I had the other ingredients to make this feasible. I had no Korean pepper flakes, but had some paprika and crushed red pepper amongst the spices so this in a way is an experimental kimchi recipe. Or I prefer to think of it as a home recipe; use what you have available like mum would do.
The kimchi most of us are familiar with is made from napa cabbage, but kimchi can, and is, made from a large variety of vegetables. This is because the fermentation process leads to a food that can be stored for future use. Much of Korea has an unfavorable climate for growing crops through the cold winters so they needed a way to keep and store food for those days when there was nothing fresh available to eat. Kimchi is also remarkably healthy for you.
I began by gathering the ingredients, and even so managed to forget one until almost too late. Fortunately I remembered and the most important ingredient was included.
In the photo you can see minced garlic in a jar which is what a lot of people use when they don’t have fresh available. That also applies to the small jar in the center which is minced ginger. I cook with both fresh ingredients, when I plan ahead, and the bottled ones when I don’t have fresh on hand or for making things quickly. So I don’t judge, just use what you feel comfortable using.
I had a medium and a small zucchini, one off each of my plants. Because the green one in particular was a little large I peeled some of the skin off it and cut it so I could remove the soft pulpy bit in the center where the seeds are. If you use nice small ones you can just slice them up. The garlic bulb is divided into cloves which are then put into the garlic press. You can just finely dice it with a knife if you don’t have a press.
Here I have the zucchini ready to be sprinkled with salt. You do this to draw excess water out of it. (If you’ve even been to England and had cucumber sandwiches this is what is done to the cucumber first.) So sprinkle the zucchini with salt, cover with a plate or cling wrap and leave for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.
You can see in the first photo I got 1/3 of a cup of liquid and then I left it for another few minutes while I got the rest of the ingredients ready and more water had started to pool at the bottom of the bowl. You want to do this step so you don’t end up with a watery end product with limp vegetables. Whatever vegetable you use will soften over time but you don’t want them to start off that way.
Now comes the fun part of mixing everything together except the cut up spring onions. I don’t really know why they are added last, but most recipes suggest that. I basically used 1 teaspoon of everything except the rice vinegar. I used a tablespoon of that. So 1 teaspoon red pepper paste, minced garlic, minced ginger, honey, fish sauce, crushed red pepper and paprika. You can use sugar instead of honey if you want.
I carefully mixed everything together and it began to really smell of kimchi. Then I added the cut up spring onions, stirred one more time, tasted it, and put it it the jar. Try and push all the ingredients below the level of the liquid so they are covered.
You can see I wasn’t making a very large quantity as I was experimenting. It tastes good right now, but I will update every few days for a week or so and let you know if I’ll change the quantities next time. I’ll be leaving this sealed on a shelf in my larder and then be moving it to the refrigerator after a couple of days. I suggest you eat it within a couple of weeks as some kimchi is better young than aged. For example I usually eat cucumber kimchi within a week.
Note. 3 hours after making it I just had a quick taste, nice and spicy but I think it could have used a bit more tang and maybe a touch more sweetness. So I’ll probably add more vinegar and sugar next time.
Note. You shouldn’t really open the kimchi to the air for the first few days because oxygen can alter the fermentation process, so oops on the trying it after 3 hours. I’ll be giving it another couple of days and then try it. I’ll let you know the results.