Thanksgiving Pickles

It was a beautiful fall day today here in the Bay area. After a busy week at work that included some out of state travel, I promised myself that I wouldn’t plan anything this weekend and just live it minute by minute.

This is the weekend before Thanksgiving so I had fun shopping for Thursday’s dinner. First I visited the Downtown Berkeley Ecology Center Farmers Market for a few basics – potatoes, onions, mushrooms – but I also picked up some ingredients to make pickles and kimchi because I am always hungry for pickled foods this time of year. Plus, Thanksgiving wouldn’t be complete without a pickle plate! I visited the Rockridge Market Hall in Oakland for specialty foods including very fresh seafood from Hapuku Fish Shop, locally produced meats from Marin Sun Meats, and world class wines from Paul Marcus Wines.

Salting Napa cabbage for kimchi

Salting Napa cabbage for kimchi

I didn’t can my grandmother’s pickled beets this summer so I decided to make a “quick pickle” recipe that was shared with me by Jane Wilson Morton, the niece of the co-owners of Werth and O’Brien’s Deli in Flatbush. Brooklyn. This German deli is long gone but I was able to publish this recipe in my book Pickled (Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 2003). This recipe can be prepared 1-3 days before enjoying, and can be made without sealing jars in a hot water bath. It’s very simple and tasty!  Click on the image below to see the full recipe.


Werth and O'Brien's Pickled Beets

Werth and O’Brien’s Pickled Beets


In addition to beets, I made a jar of pickled cherry peppers (again for the refrigerator) and I began salting two heads of Napa cabbage that I bought of the farmers market today for kimchi. I also roasted some red jalapeno peppers to make a spicy version of romesco-style sauce to accompany roasted Brussels sprouts.

Roasted red jalapeno chile peppers in oil with garlic

Roasted red jalapeno chile peppers in oil with garlic

Through the years I’ve had fun posting to this blog about Thanksgiving, including a post dedicated to family favorites like Thanksgiving dressing. If you aren’t sure how to make Thanksgiving dressing/stuffing, be sure to check out that link for inspiration. I wish you a very happy Thanksgiving.


The Kimchi Report

Bae Chu Kimchi

It’s been many years since I’ve made kimchi at home.  In fact, the last time I made it was during the research on my “pickle book” (Pickled: Preserving a World of Tastes and Traditions) published in 2003.  I don’t eat kimchi every day but I sometimes crave it, especially in the winter months.  A few weeks ago I was inspired to make a batch of kimchi from produce in my Sol to Seed Farm CSA share.  I thumbed through the pages of my own worn copy of Pickled to find the recipe for Bae Chu Kimchi (Napa Cabbage Kimchi).  This recipe was given to me by Young Choi, who was owner of the now closed Woo Lae Oak restaurant in New York’s Soho neighborhood. They went through a lot of kimchi at the restaurant and this recipe is unlike other kimchi recipes that call for salted shrimp or anchovies.   This recipe gets its umami flavor from beef stock.  This is my favorite kimchi hands down.  After jotting down my shopping list, I headed off to H Mart to gather the remaining ingredients.

The result is delicious!  I’ll have to make this one again.

Here I have modified the original Woo Lae Oak recipe and added much more detail about the fermentation process.

  • 3 heads Napa Cabbage, about 6 lbs. washed and drained
  • 2 cups coarse salt (Kosher or sea salt)
  • 1 medium Daikon radish, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
  • 5-10 sprigs Korean watercress (tastes very much like parsley)
  • 1″ piece ginger, peeled finely chopped
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, peeled and root tip removed
  • 1/2 cup Korean chile powder (I used Wang brand fine powder, not coarse)
  • 1/2 cup beef stock, preferably homemade (fat skimmed completely)
  • 1/2 cup Chinese or Korean chives, thinly sliced  diagonally (scallions will also work)

From the root end, cut each cabbage in half lengthwise and place on a large baking sheet.  Using your hands, work salt in between the leaves down to the root. Put cabbages into a large bowl and let sit, turning occasionally, until softened, 4 hours. Rinse cabbages and squeeze to extract excess water; set aside to continue draining.

Salted vegetables

In the bowl of a food processor, combine remaining ingredients to make the kimchi seasoning paste.  Stir in fresh chopped chives for color and texture.  Use your fingers to work the paste mixture between the leaves, starting with the innermost leaves and working outward. Repeat with remaining cabbage halves, reserving a handful of the filling. Transfer seasoned cabbages to a clean 6-qt. glass jar, adding some of the remaining seasoning paste and pressing down to compact the cabbages. Rub any remaining paste over the top of the packed cabbages and cover jar with 2 layers of plastic wrap and secure. Let the kimchi sit at room temperature to ferment for 4 days, but not in direct sunlight.  A dark corner of a basement works perfectly.  It will start to smell pungent by the second and third day.  Don’t worry!  This is completely normal.

Uncover the jar to release any gasses that have built up. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4-6 more days to let the flavors develop. Refrigerated, this kimchi will keep for at least 6 months (though the cabbages will become soft- which I do not care for). To serve, remove desired amount of cabbage and snip leaves into bit sized pieces.

I actually made three different types of kimchi: bae chu kimchi (Napa cabbage), a twisted variation of kak ku di kimchi (1/2 daikon radish 1/2 kohlrabi), and a shredded vegetable kimchi made with carrot, green cabbage and daikon.  I made sure the recipes were safe and tasty before posting this blog entry. Again, most of the vegetables are from my CSA share.  Fresh ingredients make the best kimchi.