Cabbage is one of the emblematic vegetables of fermentation. And for good reason: it is nutritious, inexpensive, impossible to miss and delectable once fermented. However, do not believe that its fermentation is limited to nature sauerkraut! Given its availability around the world, different cultures have appropriated this vegetable to make dishes as colorful as tasty.
Whether it's for seasoned fermenters looking for new recipes or those starting their adventure in the world of fermentation, here are six ways to ferment cabbage around the world!
When we talk about sauerkraut, the first image that comes to mind is surely that of traditional Alsatian sauerkraut. Very popular in Alsace region (France) and Germany, this sauerkraut is composed of cabbage, salt and some herbs: juniper berries, bay leaves and caraway seeds. This sauerkraut is light, tangy and a bit scented, making it the perfect companion for heavier dishes such as cold cuts and meat dishes. It is the basis of the classic dish of "Garnished Sauerkraut", where it is served with sausages from the French terroir. If you want to highlight the cabbage and taste all the nuances, sauerkraut Alsatian is made for you!
Did you know? Russia and Eastern Europe countries are large consumers of fermented foods! Traditionally, vegetables were fermented in large quantities to get through the long winter months. Fermentation has the capacity to preserve and improve the nutrients in the long term... We have every benefits to consume every day! In Russia and other Eastern European countries, cabbage is fermented alone or with other vegetables such as carrots, beets or peppers. Want a new taste? Add some cranberries into your sauerkraut. Once fermented, the vegetables are eaten cold as a side salad or made into a tasty and nutritious soup.
The Korean adage says it well: a meal without kimchi, it's not a meal! Kimchi represents a variety of fermented vegetables that are very popular in Korea. The best-known kimchi is certainly baechu kimchi, which is called nappa kimchi. A special feature of kimchi is the use of gochugaru pepper, a red pepper that is vibrant, spicy and scented with a slight smoky taste. In addition to this pepper, a kimchi baechu often contains daikon, onions, asian pears, garlic, ginger and fish sauce. Difficult to find a unique recipe: there are as many recipes as Korean! Ours has however seduced many fermenters.
The curtido is halfway between a cabbage salad and a relish made of cabbage, carrot and onion. Spiced with jalapeno and oregano, this condiment is both fresh, crisp and pleasantly uplifted! The curtido is usually served with the national dish of El Salvador: the pupusas, flat breads of corn stuffed with meat, legumes or cheese. The curtido is easy to make, and sometimes pickled with vinegar. However, why not ferment it? A short fermentation will bring good acidity while keeping the crunchy vegetables.
Want to experiment with spicy fermentations? The pikliz is your gateway! Pikliz is a Haitian specialty made of cabbage, carrots, thyme ... and chilli scotch bonnet! This pepper is up to 140 times stronger than the jalapeno, which gives a personality to the pikliz. Every Haitian home has a pot of pikliz in its kitchen, to complement the traditional grillot (fried pork) and any dish that needs a little help. The pikliz is infinitely customizable, adding or removing spices or vegetables ... it's up to you to find your favorite combination! Several recipes marinate pikliz with bitter orange juice, but for a fermented version, citrus zest plays a similar role and brings a pleasant freshness to the condiment.
There is more variety of cabbages than green cabbage! For example, the gay choy, called mustard cabbage, is very popular in Vietnam. This cabbage looks like bok choy but with a more pronounced taste. It is delicious in the form of cai chua, fermented in a sweet salty brine with a little onion and sometimes chili. The result? A crunchy, tangy and tasty accompaniment that slips into everyday meals. In stir-fries or on the side of fatty foods, it helps digestion and stimulates appetite.
Enjoy your fermentations!