I had planned to make a big batch of kimchi, but couldn’t find any decent looking Napa cabbage. Instead, there were some very nice organic bok choy, so I decided to make a little variation in my recipe. It turned out quite good.
Being from New Mexico, where chile rules, I feel I have to say that ‘chili’ and ‘chile’ are not the same thing nor is it a typo. ‘Chili’ powder is a blend of spices, with ground chiles being only one of many ingredients. ‘Chile’ powder is the dried, red chile pods ground to a fine powder with nothing else added. I used the second because I haven’t had any luck finding a certified gluten free version of the Korean spices normally used in kimchi.
I add the seaweed as a natural source of iodine. According to one of my books (Fermented Vegetables by the Shockleys), cruciferous veggies (which includes bok choy and cabbage) contain goitrogens, which some people with hypothryroid conditions must avoid because it suppresses thyroid function. Cooking breaks down goitrogens, but fermenting does not. Sea vegetables, with natural iodine, help balance too much goitrogen.
If the carrots are more than quarter size in thickness, I cut them in half lengthwise, the chop them in 1/8” slices. If the daikon is large, I cut in half or quarters lengthwise, then chop it into slices. You want all your pieces somewhat similar in size.
The new recipe is below. I hope you enjoy it.
2 large bunches of bok choy, chopped in 1/8” slices
4-6 green onions, chopped in 1/8” rounds
3-4 medium to large carrots chopped in 1/8” slices
1 largish daikon radish, chopped in 1/8” slices (about 2” by 7”)
1 T minced garlic
1 T minced fresh ginger root
1 T dried hot chile flakes
2 tsp New Mexico red chile powder (or more if you really like it)
3-4 tsp pure sea salt
1 T dried seaweed flakes (I use dulce flakes, but have chopped nori really fine in a pinch)
Mix all the ingredients in a large, nonreactive bowl (glass or stainless steel works) and start with 3 tsp of salt. You want the salt worked in really well, so I usually get both hands in the mix and really massage it in. You should start seeing a little liquid pooling in the bottom of the bowl as the salt draws the water out of the veggies. The veggies should be salty to taste, but not enough to be overwhelming. Add a little more until you get it to your liking.
Pack the veggie mixture into a glass container or fermentation crock. Use your fist or a pickle packer to alternately add a layer of veggies, then pack it down to force out air. You should see brine rising to or above the level of the veggies.
One of my favorite containers to use is a ½ gallon canning jar with a fermentation lid on it. If you don’t have a fermentation lid, you can just drape a couple of layers of cheese cloth over the top. Links below are to two of my favorite types of lids on Amazon.
If using a fermentation crock, use a plate sized to fit inside the crock and press the vegetables down under the brine. I would also top it with a few large bok choy leaves before placing the plate down. Put a weight on the plate, such as a small mason jar full of water. Put the lid on the crock or cover with a clean kitchen towel. I live in the high desert, which means we have a lot of dust, so I do both-lid first, then kitchen towel. If you have weights for your crock, you can use those instead of the plate and jar method.
If you are using half-gallon jars, fill them about 2/3 full of packed veggies. Mix up a salt solution of 1 tablespoon salt to 1 quart of water and pour a little bit into a clean, quart size baggie. Push the baggie down into the jar and with the handle of a wooden spoon, gently push the baggie around so that the veggies are completely covered. Add more salt water to keep the baggie pushed against the side of the jar, but don’t try to fill it. You need just enough water to keep the veggies pressed down so they stay under the brine. Use salt water in the baggie in case it leaks so it won’t dilute the brine in your ferment (voice of experience).
Let the veggies ferment at room temperature, out of the sun, for one to 3 weeks. We’ve tried different times and find that we prefer 1 week for this particular recipe, but that is a personal preference.
You can always cut the recipe in half if you just want to try a small batch first. Substitute other spices for the red chile if you prefer, but make sure they are from a gluten free source if you must stay GF. I use primarily Badia certified gluten free spices in my kitchen.