CSA Week 1 and Its Uses - Part I

Here in South Florida, as winter descends on the rest of the country, we enter our prime growing season, and the CSA I've joined (through Bee Heaven Farm) started up the week before last. My first experience with a CSA was last year, and I started the season with the ambitious goal of documenting my use of everything in each CSA box (you can see how that ended up). I've learned my lesson: often it's just not that interesting, and sometimes everything doesn't get used up. Which is embarrassing and lame. So this season I won't try to make this a regular topic, but instead maybe just an occasional feature.

CSA Week 1

Over at Redland Rambles, every Friday they give a preview of what is coming in the box the next day. Week 1 brought daikon radish, pak choy, green beans, "Japanese spinach" (a/k/a Savoy spinach?), dandelion greens, cherry tomatoes, garlic chives, parsley, and flowering thyme. I've been wanting to try to make a home-made kimchi for a while now, and decided that would be the fate of the daikon and pak choy.

Where better to start than the Momofuku cookbook for guidance?[*] Though Napa cabbage is the vegetable most typically used in kimchi, daikon is actually fairly common as well; indeed David Chang's book suggests substituting daikon for cabbage using the same recipe. The pak choy struck me as similar enough to Napa cabbage that it would work in the mix too.

I cubed the daikon in about 1/2" chunks (2 medium daikons) and sliced the pak choy in ribbons of about the same thickness. These were then aggressively seasoned with about 2tbsp each of salt and sugar, then sat overnight in the fridge.

daikon and pak choy

The next day I mixed up a paste of garlic, ginger, chile powder (1/2 cup),[**] fish sauce (1/4 cup), usukuchi soy sauce (1/4 cup), salted shrimp (2 tsp.) (more on this below), and sugar (1/2 cup). The Momofuku recipe called for a whopping 20 garlic cloves per one head of cabbage, which seemed a bit over the top, and I cut that in half. It also called for 20 "slices" of peeled fresh ginger - not knowing precisely what a "slice" is, I used an amount about equivalent to the garlic. Then some julienned carrot (1/2 cup) went in; I also threw in the CSA garlic chives, in lieu of scallions. The daikon and pak choy were then drained (they will throw off some water after being salted) and added to the mix. Here's the mise en place:

kimchi mise en place

and everything thrown together:

daikon & pak choy kimchi

(continued ...)

The salted shrimp, which we found at PK Oriental Market in North Miami Beach, might be a somewhat intimidating item to some. The words "krill" or "bait" may jump to mind. But adding seafood to a kimchi is pretty common to start the fermentation process - some versions use raw oysters - and the shrimp, while overwhelmingly salty on their own (yes, of course I had to taste them), still had a pleasing and almost sweet brininess as well. Having used only 2 tsp. for the recipe, I am welcome to suggestions for their other uses!

salted shrimpdaikon & pak choy kimchi

When I told Little Miss F I was making kimchi, she asked "Are we going to bury it jars in the backyard?" (She'd seen an episode of Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie and knew the traditional technique). No, we're not quite that hardcore. And neither is David Chang. Instead, the mix gets put in a jar and stowed in the refrigerator to ripen and ferment. After a day or two, it was intensely flavorful but very disjointed, with all the flavors competing for attention. It was also incredibly salty, and I realized that this would probably be better diluted some, maybe in a stew or the like, rather than on its own. I let it sit for a few more days and came up with a plan: kimchi ramen.

Next, Part II - kimchi ramen. There will be much pork involved.

[*]I also took a look at a recipe that was in the last Food and Wine, but grew suspicious when it said the chile powder was optional.

[**]I'm not sure the chile powder we got at the Asian market was actual Korean kochukaru, which I often find has a bit of a smoky note to it. And indeed the kimchi turned out not as spicy as I anticipated despite a fairly huge amount of chile powder.

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