All hail the ferment

I try not to be too miserable about winter. It’s a time for reflection, for big, hearty, slow-cooked dinners, and for staying rested and replenished before a busy year ahead. But when it’s mid-January, an unending blanket of frozen snow and black ice stop you from even walking to the bus stop without fearing for your life, let alone getting out and doing any proper exercise, it’s tough to be positive, not even about dinners (which, trust me, I can always be positive about).

So when it’s in your power to make a literal superfood that’ll add some zing, some pep and some all-around ‘ooh!’ to your dishes, I say seize that power with both hands. You can do this. Kimchi believes in you.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it, but as a trained brewer and distiller, the OH is obsessed with fermentation. Seriously, he loves it. Our teeny flat is never silent, such are the hisses, pops and glugs emanating from the various jars, bottles and buckets that we have dotted round the house, the products of his evening projects spent tinkering about with yeasts – man-made and natural. I’m not complaining: our sourdough starter is four years old this year (tips on looking after your sourdough starter are here, FYI), and we’re never short on beer to take to gatherings.

I bought the OH Sandor Katz’s The Art of Fermentation several years ago, and this year he’s been playing with recipes for pickling winter vegetables. I couldn’t resist pinching these recipes for Brussells sprout kimchi, because it’s really bloody good (not to mention incredibly good for your gut). It’s kind of an acquired taste, but well worth it once you get into them. Plus, you’re so on trend, it’s irresistible.

As Sandor Katz says himself, you can use this basic recipe on pretty much any vegetable. The world is your oyster (or carrot, cabbage, beetroot, etc…)

Brussels Sprout Kimchi

Makes 1 big jar (we used a jar that had previously held pickled gherkins, to give you an idea)


400-500g Brussells sprouts, with the manky leaves trimmed off
1-2 teaspoons of salt – we use flaked sea salt, but it really doesn’t matter
10g flour (ideally rice but whatever you have)
Flavourings – can include garlic, chillis, chilli paste, dried shrimp, whatever you fancy


  1. Shred the sprouts into ribbons, either with a food processor or with a knife and chopping board
  2. Place into a bowl and add the salt.
  3. Scrunch everything between your fingers, then leave for a bit. Do this repeatedly over a few hours, allowing the salt to work in and juice to flow out.
  4. In the meantime add one part flour to eight parts water to a small pan and heat until it thickens. Allow to cool.
  5. To this flour mixture, add dried chilli flakes and a clove of minced garlic (the OH also added a smidgen of Scotch Bonnet paste, a wonder ingredient from the Bad Boy Chilli Company, which we got in a hamper for Christmas and have been obsessing over ever since).
  6. At this point, you can rinse the sprouts if you like, although hopefully this won’t be necessary, as you won’t have over salted yet you’ll still have lots of good juice in the bowl.
  7. Mix in the paste and spices.
  8. Force everything into a sterilised jar (see above for the jar we used). If it doesn’t all fit, make it fit! Compressing it down should ensure the whole mixture is under liquid. The OH suggests using things like onion halves or broccoli stalks to help make this happen. Screw on the jar lid and leave at room temperature.
  9. On the second day, loosen the lid to allow excess CO2 to escape before resealing. Leave another day or two, letting gas escape by loosening and resealing the lid as needed. Then put the jar in the fridge.
  10. Serve with salads or hot dishes, to folded wraps, to breakfast, to toasted sandwiches – to literally anything you like. It’s amazing!

Brussels sprouts kimchi - Crumbs and Roses

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