Saturday was filled with lots of cooking and started out with fermenting. I took a class on how to make Kimchi and also how to make hot sauce from scratch. So how does this apply to tea? Well tea can be used as a flavoring ingredient in fermentation and also many people think that tea is fermented. I will try to clear up that misinformation and then let you in on the recipes for kimchi & hot sauce.
So fermentation is when bacteria (good bacteria) breaks down organic matter. The Kimchi & hot sauce use naturally occuring Lactobacillus bacteria to interact with vegetable matter to produce lactic acid which helps ferment the cabbage and the peppers in the kimchi and hot pepper mash. The kimchi is ready in days, the hot peppers take 6 weeks to complete fermentation. I hope I got this right, I just took the one class, so even though it was yesterday I am not an expert.
Here is the misinformation in tea, black tea and oolong tea are not fermented teas. They are oxidized. This is the process where the cell wall is broken on the tea leaf and the naturally occurring enzymes in the tea leaf are exposed to air (oxygen), this causes a blackening of the leaf. Like when you bite and apple and leave it it turns brown, that is oxidation. Fermentation is a yeast or bacteria breaking down the leaf, this does happen in pu’erh teas. The tea is piled high and microbial activityis encouraged, like a compost heap. The bacteria is naturally there on the tea leaf and is encouraged to flourish by piling the tea into mounds which have little access to air (oxygen) so the leaves in the center undergo a fermentation as the leaves break down and heat up. The leaves are turned according to the tea maker who has a specific flavor profile in mind. This is very simplistic and hopefully helpful definition of fermentation and oxidation. They both help change the flavor of the tea leaf, to create the caramel earthiness of pu’erh or the bold malty flavor of a black tea.
Back to Kimchi & Hot Sauce. Here are the recipes.
Hot Pepper Mash
- .33 oz of Salt (just salt no extra ingredients like iodine, anti-caking agents, etc)
1 lb. of hot peppers small dice (jalapenos, serrano, habanero recommended but anything with a thick skin works, if you want to use a thin skinned pepper, do it in combination with one of these thick skinned varieties)
- Wash peppers, dice and add salt, mixing together salt and diced peppers.*WARNNG wear gloves, and don’t touch your face with your gloves the capsaicin (the chemical that makes peppers hot) will burn your hands and any skin.
- Pack your peppers firmly into a clean jar, leaving 1″ of space for expansion of the mash. If the juice from packing the peppers in doesn’t cover the peppers, add brine (1oz. of salt per quart of water, a 3% brine solution) to the top. Also can put a zip lock baggie of brine to fill the 1″ space in the jar.
- Seal your jar with a lid fitted with an airlock and fill the air lock with brine or distilled vinegar to the fill line. Store at 70 to 80 degrees for about 6 weeks. Place jar in a bowl, to catch any overflow. In 6 weeks you are ready to make the hot sauce. Or can store in the frig for a few month until you are ready to make your hot sauce.
- 1 lb. fermented hot pepper mash
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 Cup Distilled white vinegar
- 1/3 Cup Apple Cider vinegar
- In a large sauce pan bring all ingredients to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes. Puree and strain. May be stored for several months in the refrigerator.
Whole Cabbage (Poggi) Kimchi
- 1 approx. 5 lb. head of Napa Cabbage
- 1/2 Cup of coarse salt (sea salt or kosher salt, without any additives)
water to cover the cabbage
- Prepare the cabbage the day before or at least 6 hrs. before making the kimchi.
To prepare the cabbage, remove outer leaves and root end. Cut into quarters. Salt the leaves, getting some salt in between each leaf, place salted cabbage in a container, add water (non-chlorinated water but not distilled) to cover the cabbage, place a plate or heavy object to hold the cabbage down in the water. Leave overnight to soak or at least 6 hours.
- 2 oz. Korean green mustard leaves cut into 2″ lengths
- 1 bunch Korean chives (buchu) cut into 2″ lengths
- 1 bunch Korean watercress (minari or water dropwart) cut into 2″ lengths
- 2 bunches scallions trim roots, cut into 2″ lengths
- 1 Korean radish peeled and julienned
- 2 Tablespoons fish sauce
- 1/4 cup salted baby shrimp (saewoo juht) ground in food processor (or by hand in mortar & pestle)
- 1″ piece of fresh ginger ground in food processor (or by hand) about a tablespoon
- 1/4 cup or one head of garlic ground in food processor (or by hand)
- 1/2 of an onion ground in food processor (or by hand)
- 3/4 cup Korean red pepper flakes (1/2 to 1 cup to vary the spiciness of the kimchi)
Prepare the paste by washing and trimming all the vegetables and cutting to length. Place all cut vegetables in a large bowl. Process or hand grind the shrimp, ginger, garlic and onion. Mix all these ingredients together add the fish sauce and red pepper flakes. Put on gloves to avoid staining your hands red. Mix the wet shrimp paste to the cut vegetables.
Combining Paste with the soaked Cabbage
- In a large bowl, with your gloves on, take a quarter cabbage section shaking off excess water, spread the seasoning paste between the layers of the leaves. Repeat for each quarter. Place the seasoned cabbage quarters into an empty clean crock, glass jar or stainless steel container. Position the cabbage sections into the container cut side down. Push the cabbage down to remove air and put any remaining seasoning paste on top. Leave at least 2″ of head space at the top of the container to avoid overflow. Also put the container in a bowl or saucer to catch any overflow. Cover the container loosely with plastic wrap or the lid.
- Leave out for 24 hours, taste it and leave out longer if you want a more “ripe” sour flavor. When it has the flavor you like close the lid tightly and store in the refrigerator.
- To serve take out a cabbage section and cut up into bite size pieces. Make sure to cut off the root & discard. Kimchi can be kept in the refrigerator for weeks. It will continue to sour over time in the refrigerator.
Enjoy the flavors of fermented food and wash it down with a good pu’erh. Your stomach will thank you!