Dưa Cải Chua

Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. -Joni Mitchell

It’s hard to believe in the middle of winter, when you’re so hungry for fresh veg you can’t stand it, but by mid-spring sometimes you can get greens fatigue. They just keep coming!

That bounty is wonderful, but when you’re running out of ideas for how to eat them fresh, remember how hungry you were for those greens just a couple months ago. Fortunately, your greens don’t have to go the same way as Joni Mitchell’s proverbial paradise.

Cucumbers, peppers, cabbage, and radishes aren’t the only spring and summer veggies you can pickle. Give your mustard and other spicy, peppery greens the same treatment, and you can have a taste of spring even after summer has passed.

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Dưa Cải Chua is a Vietnamese dish of pickled Spicy Asian Mustard Greens. It’s simple to make and easy to customize to your preferred palate—you can adjust to find your perfect balance of salt, sweet, sour, and spice. And best of all, you can make it with what’s in your share and a few common items in your pantry.

You’ll need:
2 bunch mustard greens, about 4 pounds
4-6 cloves of garlic
1 bunch of spring onion or white onion
Large pot boiled water
2.5-3 tablespoons salt
3 tablespoon sugar
Sriracha, Sambal Oelek, minced Sereno Peppers, or Szechuan Peppercorns
Fish Sauce (optional)
Clean mason jars
A Kraut Source fermentation kit (we sell them at our booth!) or ziplock bags & mason jar lids

Clean and separate your mustard greens and onions. Pick out any leaves that have gotten too yellow—though a little yellow or limpness is ok, as Dưa Cải Chuaa is a great way to use up greens that have languished in the back of your fridge a little longer than you intended (shhh, we won’t tell). A salad spinner an a little chilled tap water will do the trick.

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Dry the leaves and shred, then slice the onions. Some recommend letting the greens air dry and get limp for up to 12 hours. Others to simply pat dry with paper towels. It depends on how much time and counter space you have, and how fresh your mustard greens are. Once your leaves are dry, massage them till they are even more limp and even start to sweat a little. Mix with your onions and garlic and set aside.

Rinse your mason jars with boiling water to sterilize them. While the jars are cooling, use remaining boiled water to make a brine with the salt, sugar, and whatever spices you are adding. Taste with a clean spoon as you go to make sure you like the level of heat and balance of flavors.

Sriracha will produce a sweeter, milder Dưa Cải Chuaa. Sambal oelek will be spicier. Minced serano peppers are more traditional, but can get very spicy very quickly. Sezchuan peppercorns will be a different flavor—making the dish more Chinese than Vietnamese— and the level of heat will depend on how fresh your peppercorns are. Fish sauce will make it saltier and add an extra briny, umami flavor.

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Pack your jars with the blend of mustard greens, onions, and garlic as tightly as possible. Press them down with a rubber spatula, which you can also use to break up air pockets. Pour the brine in with a funnel, until the greens are covered by at least an inch of brine. Don’t overfill your jars though—you want the brine to sit just below the neck of the jar, at least an inch from the lid.

This is when you either screw on your Kraut Source fermentation kit lid or, if you don’t have one, gently press a plastic bag into the mouth of the jar. Fill with tap water, taking care not to spill. The water will press the baggie flush against the top of the brine, making the contents air tight. Secure lip of the baggie to the mouth of the jar with a rubber band.

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Let the Dưa Cải Chuaa sit on your counter for a week. After it’s done fermenting, take your baggies or Kraut Source lid off, and replace with regular mason jar tops. The Dưa Cải Chuaa will keep for months in the fridge unopened, much like kimchi or sauerkraut.

Traditionally, Dưa Cải Chuaa is eaten much like kimchi or kraut, used to add flavor to soups, salads, meats, rice, and more. Add it to stir fry, grain bowls, eggs, or noodle dishes.

 

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If you used Szechuan Peppercorns for more of a Chinese flare, add your pickled greens to Dan-Dan Noodles, a traditional spicy Szechuan dish made with thick, chewy noodles in a spicy soy-based sauce. For a Japanese-style meal, fry some of your Dưa Cải Chuaa (called Takana in Japan) in sesame oil before adding to rice.

Or if you want to stick close to Vietnam, you can make Canh Dưa Cải Chuaaa beef soup with pickled mustard greens. Or add to another Vietnamese dish Thịt Kho. a slow-braised pork dish with eggs. It would also be wonderful in Pho.

 


Preserving the Harvest :: Lacto-Fermention + A Sauerruben Recipe!

Hello!

We love fermenting here at Tant Hill Farm so figured it was time to share our tips and tricks to help you lacto-ferment at home. Lacto-fermentation happens when food is submerged in a salty brine and left to sit at room temperature for days, weeks or even months. A specific species of bacteria, Lactobacillus, converts sugars to lactic acid. This process not only preserves food but it also makes it more nutritious and digestible.

There is a lot to learn and we know it can seem overwhelming but it really boils down to the crucial steps listed below. Of course there is more to this – which type of container to use, how to flavor it, etc, but you need to understand these steps first. After reviewing the crucial steps, you will have a greater understanding of the sauerruben recipe below. We hope you enjoy it!

Crucial Steps for Successful Lacto-Fermenting at Home

  • Salt: 
    • Salt is crucial because it both draws liquid from the vegetable, creating its own brine, and also creates an atmosphere where only healthy bacteria can thrive.
      • Amount: most resources recommend using 2% – 5% salt of the fermented vegetables weight. That means trim, peel and cut your vegetables before weighing them and THEN calculate the amount of salt you need. I typically use about 3.5% salt and have had great results (I use sea salt). I would highly suggest investing in a digital scale to make this step easy.
      • Type: do a quick online search and you will find different opinions on whether the type of salt you use makes a difference of not. It comes down to the amount of sodium in your salt, and luckily, it is printed in the nutrition section on the box. Table salt typically has 580mg in 1/4 teaspoon and sea salt has 440mg in 1/4 teaspoon. So, given that I typically measure my salt using a teaspoon or tablespoon, if you use table salt, it will result in a saltier (and sometimes too salty) end product. In the end, I recommend looking at the sodium content on your salt box and if you have a choice, use the salt with the lower amount.
  • Submerge:
    • Lacto-fermentation is an anaerobic process, meaning it happens in the absence of air. That is why it is so important to have all vegetables submerged under the brine and all air-pockets removed. You will often see recipes that state you should add the vegetables a little at a time, pounding them down between each addition. This helps to ensure there are no air pockets remaining. You can also tap the finished ferment on the counter lightly or use a long skewer to remove any trapped air bubbles. There are all sorts of gadgets on the market to help – we love using the Kraut Source but you can use just about anything. It can be as simple as filling a plastic bag with brine and setting it on top to keep the vegetables submerged.
  • Time & Temperature:
    • Time and temperature work hand in hand. You can ferment anywhere between 55°F and 80°F. The lower the temperature, the slower the fermentation and conversely, the higher the temperature, the faster the fermentation. This also affects the flavor – slow fermentations typically have more complex, nuanced flavor whereas fast fermentations can have more intense flavors with a higher chance for off-flavors. There is a useful rule of thumb that states for every 10°C rise in temperature, the rate of reaction doubles. As an example, if it is 10°C (or about 18°F) hotter in your kitchen, expect your fermentation to finish in half the time. In the end, tasting your fermentation every day is the only way to know how it is progressing.

Kohlrabi Sauerruben
makes about 1 cup

Recipe note: traditional sauerruben is made with turnips but I added kohlrabi for an interesting twist.

Ingredients:

  • 15 ounces combined salad turnips and kohlrabi
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1 bay leaf

Directions:

  • Trim the salad turnips and peel the kohlrabi. Grate on the large holes of a box grater. I had 8 ounces of grated salad turnips and 4 ounces of grated kohlrabi. The breakdown isn’t as important as the total amount as this determines the amount of salt.
  • Add the grated vegetables and salt to a medium mixing bowl and mix well to combine. Allow to sit for 10 minutes or so to extract the water from the vegetables. You can use any type of fermenting vessel but a pint sized glass canning jar works great here. Add the vegetables a little at a time, pounding them down with the back of a spoon between each addition. There should be enough liquid to cover the vegetables. Add the bay leaf and submerge the vegetables below the brine. If you aren’t using a device that covers the top, cover with cheesecloth and secure with a rubber band. Allow to ferment as desired. I find that I like my ferments after a week or so. Once it is to your liking, cover with a lid and transfer to the refrigerator. I have kept ferments for months and months in the refrigerator but this probably won’t last that long.

Preserving the Harvest :: Miso Pickles

Hello!

The Walking to Spring CSA started this week and I couldn’t be happier to a refrigerator full of fresh produce. Let us know how your thoughts on this session – we would love to hear from you!

I wanted to share with you a preservation technique that you may find fun and useful. It is called Misozuke, which is a Japanese miso-cultured pickle. It is really easy and you only need a couple ingredients – miso and veggies. See below to learn more!

Basics
This is a pretty simple process but there are a few key steps to keep in mind:

  • Create a miso-doko: this is the miso pickling paste. You can use any type of miso you have on hand – white and red are the most common. You can use one type or mix together various types. You can add a little sake and/or mirin which will loosen it up and make it easier to submerge the vegetables (I think I will try this next time). Some recipes add other flavorings at this point, such as ginger and garlic.
  • Prepare your vegetables: you could probably use just about any vegetable but turnips, Daikon, kohlrabi and celery are the ones I have seen most often. I am sure broccoli, carrots, scallions and even the stems from your greens would work great. You can cut your vegetables any size but most are sliced about 1/2″ thick or cut into matchstick sized pieces. Whatever size you choose, be sure they are evenly sized so they ferment at the same rate.
  • Layer miso-doko and vegetables: you can do this in just about any kitchen vessel – a dinner plate, food storage container or even canning jars. You can spread a layer of miso in the bottom of the container, lay the prepared vegetables on top, and top them with more miso. If you loosened the miso, you may be able to just push the vegetables in the mixture. Some recipes I have found will place cheesecloth on either side of the vegetables to make it easier to get them out but I didn’t bother with that step.
  • Ferment: you have a choice to ferment on the counter at room temperature, in the refrigerator or a combination of the two. Some people will keep the mixture at room temperature for a day and then transfer to the refrigerator for the remaining time. If you decide to keep it in the refrigerator the whole time, as I did, it may take longer to reach a desired outcome.
  • Taste daily: this process is entirely new to me so I can’t provide a great guideline on how long it will take. Some recipes ferment for just a day while others leave it for two weeks. Taste a small piece everyday and simply remove them when they are to your liking.

Other Resources
I recommend checking out the links below to get an idea of the process others use to make these pickles. They are all a bit different but you can gleam a little from each one.

Leftover Miso
You can use the miso bed over and over as long as you like the flavor – some say up to 10 times. Once it loses flavor, however, there are plenty of ways to get use out of it.

  • Tekka: I am fascinated by this savory condiment made by cooking down miso and ground root vegetables. You can find a recipe and learn more about it here and here.
  • Miso-Sesame Dressing: this probably won’t be as full flavored as compared to using fresh miso but still a great option none-the-less.
    • Ingredients: 6 tablespoons water, 1/4 cup rice vinegar, 7 teaspoons red miso, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1-1/2 teaspoons honey, 1 (2-inch) piece ginger – peeled and chopped coarse, 1 small garlic clove – chopped coarse, 1/4 cup canola oil, 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
    • Direction: Process all ingredients except canola and sesame oil in a blender until finely chopped, about 15 seconds. With the blender running, add oils in steady stream until incorporated, then continue to process until smooth, about 15 seconds. Can be refrigerated for a week.
  • Simple Miso Soup: add a little of the miso paste to a cup and pour boiling water over, stirring to combine. Top with sliced scallions and enjoy.

Radish Miso Pickles
makes about 1/2 cup finished pickles

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup white miso
  • 4-5 French or globe radishes, sliced 1/2″ thick or cut into small wedges

Directions:

  • Place 1/4 cup of the miso in a thin layer on the bottom of a glass food storage container. Place the radishes in a single layer on top of the miso. Spread the remaining miso on top of the radishes. Cover and place in the refrigerator until done.

Curtido (Salvadorian Sauerkraut)

Hi! This is my first post for Tant Hill Farm so I think an introduction is in order. My name is Laura Robinson and I just recently moved to Chattanooga with my husband and 16 month old son. I am a chef and have worked as a culinary instructor, personal chef and caterer in the past but I am now taking some time off to be home with my son. I will be blogging, creating recipes and helping with social media (follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest!). My passion is creating simple yet flavorful recipes based on local and seasonal food that both feeds the body and the soul.  I hope to help bridge the gap between buying local produce and figuring out what to do with it when you get home. Check out my website if you want more information on me and what I do. Now on to the good stuff!

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Fermented food has clearly moved into the American mainstream. Look up any “2015 Food Trends” list and it is bound to be close to the top of the list. However, it is anything but a fresh concept; humans have been fermenting food and drink for thousands of years. Not only to make food healthier and longer lasting, but also to make it oh so tasty.

I am just getting into home fermentation myself and traditional sauerkraut was my first experiment. This time around, I was looking for something a bit different when I stumbled across curtido, the Salvadorian version of sauerkraut. It is typically made with cabbage, carrots (both of which were in the Deep Winter CSA last week!) and onions and served along side cheese-filled corn tortillas, called pupusas. As much as I would love to make a traditional pupusa to eat along side the curtido when it has finished fermenting, the truth is I have limited time and will most likely stuff it in a grilled cheese (which I think will be equally as good!). I also think it would be great with marinated tempeh or grilled meat.

The following recipe was based on this one but the thing I love most about fermenting is that you really don’t need a recipe. Don’t have carrots? No worries! Don’t like spicy food? Leave out the peppers! I am by no means an expert but there are so many great resources available to learn more: check out anything by Sandor Katz, like Wild Fermentation and The Art of Fermentation, and Cultures for Health. There is also a great Facebook page called Wild Fermentation that has over 36,000 members, and I have found it to be a great resource.

In the end, I hope you use this as a starting point. Experiment and then share the results! We can’t wait to hear how it turns out. Enjoy!

Curtido

Recipe notes: 1) using a food processor or mandoline makes speedy work of slicing the vegetables; 2) you can use many types of salt, the best being those that are unrefined and natural – check out this link for more information; 3) I have found a variety of salt level recommendations – I prefer the one listed below but you need a kitchen scale (I love the Oxo digital scale) – if you don’t have a scale, this source recommends using 1-3 tablespoons of salt per medium head of cabbage (or equivalent of another vegetable).

Ingredients:

  • 2.25 pounds (5 small) cabbage, cored and sliced thin
  • 12.5 ounces (about 16 small) carrots, shredded on the large holes of box grater
  • 1 large onion, peeled and sliced thin
  • 3 large jalapenos, stemmed, seeded, cut lengthwise then sliced into half moons
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried red chili flakes
  • Salt: 3 tablespoons of salt per 5 pounds of trimmed and sliced vegetables
  • For brine if needed: 1.5 tablespoons pickling salt plus 4 cups water

Directions:

  • Add cabbage, carrots, onion, jalapenos, oregano and chili flakes to a large mixing bowl. Weigh ingredients to determine how much salt is needed (see recipe note). Add 3 tablespoons of salt for every 5 pounds of vegetables. I had a little over 3 pounds of vegetables so I used a little under 2 tablespoons salt.
  • Massage and pound the vegetables together until they have wilted and released their liquid. The goal of this step is get the vegetables to release enough of their own liquid to cover everything by an inch. You may massage everything for 5 minutes and have enough liquid or you may be at for 30 minutes and they still haven’t released much at all – it all depends on the water content of the vegetable.
  • Before you can determine if you have enough liquid to cover the vegetables, you need to pack them into whatever fermentation vessel you plan to use. There are so many options – this website does a great job of breaking it down. Although it is not ideal (because the mouth of the jar is small), I am using a large glass canning jar (see picture below). Once you have chosen a vessel, you need to start packing it with the vegetable mixture. It is best to do this layer by layer – add a couple scoops of vegetables and pound it down to 1) release as much liquid as possible and 2) remove any air pockets (lacto-fermentation happens in the absence of oxygen and the sauerkraut could spoil around any air pockets). Continue to repeat the action of adding vegetables and pounding them down until all of the sauerkraut is added. Hopefully the vegetables have released enough liquid to cover everything by an inch, but if not, use the brine amount listed in the ingredient section to cover the vegetables.
  • The next important step is to weigh the vegetables down as anything that rises to the surface will mold. Again, there are so many options here. I used a plastic bag, which I stuffed into the top of canning jar, and then filled it with water. Transfer the vessel to a cool, dry place to ferment.
  • Now all you have to do is wait! The amount of time is completely determined by your taste buds – taste it every day or two to see how it is progressing. It might only take 3-5 days for it to get to a place that you like. I plan to let mine go for a couple of weeks, maybe longer. You can even wait a couple of months but I am not sure I have the patience to wait that long!

Raw Curtido Fermenting Curtido