Kimchi?

I’m hesitant about posting this recipe, as it is really something I should disapprove of. I’ve written before about my dislike of ill-considered fusion food, the lack of respect for ingredient or tradition that it implies, but that is exactly what this is – a gleeful mishmash of the technique of one culture (Korean) with the ingredients of another (Turkish), the end result unrecognisable as being from either. I’d like to think this is partly justified by the Turkish love of pickles, if not exactly in this form, or at least by the deliciousness of the end result. Maybe I’m just a hypocrite, though.

This is a little more involved than the basic pickle recipe I posted before, though not by much, and although the hands-on process is spread over two days, both stages are quick and simple. It also lasts a while once it’s been made, and continues to improve up to a point – although traditionally kept for months or years, you should probably eat it within 2 or 3 weeks to be on the safe side. As with anything like this, sterilise your equipment, which is easier than it sounds – wash utensils and bowls really well, and either boil your jars on the hob, wash well and then dry in a low oven, or just stick them through the dishwasher.

TURKISH CELERY PICKLE
Apologies for the specialist ingredients. If you don’t have a Turkish grocer’s nearby, some large Tescos sell them.

makes 1 litre jar

DAY 1
600g of celery (1 large head), sliced
2 bulbs of fennel, sliced
3 tbsp sea salt
2 tbsp caster sugar
4 small dried chillies

Put the vegetables in a plastic or glass bowl with the chillies, sprinkle over the sugar and salt, then massage it in to the veg, making sure it all gets a coating. Weigh it down with something like a plate and a can, and leave at room temperature overnight.

DAY 2
PASTE –
6 cloves of garlic
10 brown anchovies
2 tbsp Turkish pepper flakes
3 tbsp Turkish pepper paste
1 tbsp caster sugar

1/2 a white onion, sliced in fine half moons
1 carrot, grated

Fish the chillies out of your veg and blitz them with the rest of the paste ingredients until smooth. You might need a little (up to 50ml, say) water to get it all going.

Drain the celery and fennel, rinse thoroughly and drain again. Mix with the onion, carrot, and paste, and pack into a sterilised jar. How long you leave it is up to you – mine is lovely now at 6 days, though it was pretty good after a couple. When you’re happy, stick it in the fridge, where it will continue to mature, but much more slowly.

Try with buns and wraps, or stirred through rice or grains; eat, shamefully, out of the jar, using cheese as a spoon; David Chang recommends (proper) kimchi on oysters, but I can’t confirm this.

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