A while back we went to a really nice brew pub (The Wrecking Bar). This establishment offered collard green kim chee as a side.
Up to the point of ordering dinner, this place had been a home run. The stone cellar ambiance, the fantastic bar, the kale ale cheese fondue (which we licked from the little cast iron dish), even the pickled veggies and pimiento cheese (normally I hate pimiento cheese but this was awesome) all said, “Love me. Trust me.” Then we sat down to order dinner…
I won’t bore you with all the snafus, but the best was the kim chee. Of course we ordered it, cuz, well, collard green kim chee! Paul is deathly allergic to shellfish. We found out, through events connected to the other snafus, that this mixture contained shrimp paste. Purses were searched frantically until one yielded a half a Benadryl. Then the offending substance was returned with much panic and much relief. Stories of projectile vomit were told. All in all, an epic evening.
Still, the lack of collard kim chee, so temptingly there yet cruelly denied, left a yearning. So fast forward. I have the remains of a large bag of prewashed and precut collards. We decide to salt, spice and stash said collards for about a month. The resultant kim chee was sour and spicy and garlicky. Nom. It had to happen again.
It is now, and the window for collards is closing. We searched the market and found the motherlode. A bunch of collards so huge, it required its own special bags. For only $2.50. Needless to say, the kim chee-ing was on.
The first step is to remove the stems from the collards, which was quite a task given the massive bunch we had.
Next, the collard leaves had to be salted. The generally accepted ratio we found was 3 tablespoons to 5 pounds of vegetables. We had about 4 pounds of collards, so we used 2 1/2 tablespoons of salt. Sprinkle the salt over the collards and knead them a little to start breaking down the vegetables. It should start giving fluid. This is good. We let ours sit in salt overnight in its special bag. It was the only thing we had that was big enough to hold it all. Luckily, it does reduce significantly as it sits in the salt. Let it salt a day or two.
Now make the seasoning mix. Here’s ours:
1 1/2 tablespoons miso (we used red miso, but any would work)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 cup of gochugaru (Korean chile powder)
We used miso paste as a substitute for fish paste (umami!).
I also speculated that the fermenty bacteria in the miso might help kick start the fermentation process. Not a scientific theory, but what the heck.
We let that sit overnight and during work the next day, then packed it into a giant flip top Ikea jar:
And now, we wait a couple of weeks to let it ferment. We’ll follow up later to let you know how it tastes.
Here are the full ingredients:
4 pounds of collard green leaves (stems removed)
2 1/2 tbsp sea salt
2 inches of peeled ginger
1 medium yellow onion
2 heads of garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons miso
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 cup of gochugaru