I've never got round to making my own kimchi as I can buy an excellent one locally (from Every Good Thing in Bristol (which also sells online) but this one from Mark Diacono's invaluable new handbook Ferment from Scratch sounds irresistible. Give it a go.
Some years ago, I met Hans and Gaby Wieland in Waterford, Ireland. We were all in town for a festival of food and growing, and in the years since they have done much to inspire my fermenting adventures. Our shared love of Yahtzee (pleasingly named Kniffle in their native German) and their generous introduction to fruit kimchi means we have an eternal connection.
Their original fruit kimchi sent me down many pleasant experimental avenues and this is its latest incarnation.
Made without the usual cabbage and fish sauce, this kimchi is a revelation of fruit, sour, salt and sweet. It is more liquid than some kimchi, and I prefer to eat it relatively young and crisp. After a month or two, the fruit becomes considerably softer.
By all means play with this, as long as the ratio of fruit to salt (1kg/2lb 3oz fruit: 20g salt) is maintained.
Makes 1 litre (1¾ pints)
Ferment time: 4–7 days
1 ripe mango, peeled and pitted
1 papaya, peeled and deseeded
2 kiwis, peeled
200g (7oz) grapes, halved
sea salt (5% weight of the fruit, see note above)
1 medium-heat chilli, chopped
1 large onion, thinly sliced
3 plump garlic cloves, finely chopped
a thumb of ginger, finely chopped or grated
1 tbsp Korean red pepper powder
Chop the fruit into 5–6mm (¼in) pieces and weigh it. Add to a bowl with the salt (5% of the weight of the fruit) and the remaining ingredients; mix well.
Spoon into a sterilized 1 litre (1¾ pint) flip-top jar and press down with your fingers until a brine rises and covers the mix. Weigh down with a glass pickle pebble, or sealed freezer bag of water. Cover loosely with a lid.
Leave to ferment for at least 4 days, ideally for one week. Taste, and if it has reached a gently fizzy sourness, store in the fridge; if not, allow it another few days until it has. I prefer to eat this within about a month or so, as thetexture gets a little too soft after that.
Fruit kimchi pancakes (chijimi )
These pancakes have substance, zing and a good bite of spice. They can be fried small and individual, or large and generous, to be cut into smaller pieces. Serve with ketchup, fermented hot sauce (the recipe's in the book), quick pickled red onions, or whatever takes your fancy. The recipe calls for plain (all-purpose) flour, but if you substitute 100g (2½oz) for the same of riceflour, it adds a little chewy magic that I rather like.
Makes 2 (cooked in a 20cm/8in pan)
400g (14oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
2 tbsp sesame seeds
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbsp sesame oil
300g (10oz) fruit kimchi (see above), or any other kimchi
200g (7oz) thinly sliced spring onions (scallions), red onions or beansprouts
100g (3½oz) thinly sliced bacon, cooked (optional)
vegetable oil, for frying
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Mix the flour, a big pinch of salt and the sesame seeds in a large bowl.
Whisk in 250ml (9fl oz) water, the beaten eggs and the sesame oil, making sure there are no lumps. Gently fold in the kimchi, vegetables and oooked bacon (if using).
Heat a little oil in a medium-hot frying pan and fry a tablespoon of the batter to test the seasoning – add more to taste if needed.
Pour in enough batter to form a 1.5cm (¾in) layer in the pan. Cook for 2 minutes, or until the edges have begun to crisp up and the base is golden.
Flip over and cook for another 2–3 minutes. Serve immediately
What to drink
Depending on what time of day you're consuming this I'd suggest a green tea, lager or a kombucha
Extracted from Ferment from Scratch by Mark Diacono published by Hardie Grant at £12.99. Photography ©Mark Diacono
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