Sunday, June 28, 2009

Pickled Kohlrabi Chinese Style

In my continuing quest for uses for kohlrabi, I tried the recipe for pickled kohlrabi in my Chinese cookbook. It worked.

First, a story. The first time I ever saw an actual living kohlrabi was when I visited the home of some colleagues, one of whom was Chinese. We were all young instructors at a small college in the Midwest, and Gene liked to cook. We were fortunate because he and his wife invited us over for some homemade Chinese food. (This is how I learned to stir-fry.)

They had recently bought their first house, a new house in a subdivision. They had a very small garden in the back. The only thing growing in it was kohlrabi. He didn't prepare it for us but I wondered for many years why, of all the possible vegetables, that was the one they grew. I am now convinced that it was so they could make this pickle.

Actually, it is not quite a pickle but the product of short fermentation, like sauerkraut but for a shorter period. The result is a pleasantly tangy product that is somewhat radish-like and somewhat reminiscent of kimchi. I think that it might be something one would serve alongside many dishes, and like kimchi, it could become a regular part of daily meals.

Kohlrabi Pickles (Pow Tsai: Szechuan)
slightly modified from
"An Encyclopedia of Chinese Food and Cooking"
by Chang, Chang, Kutscher and Kutscher,
Crown Publishers

For a 1 quart Mason-type canning jar, prepare a solution of 2 cups boiling water and 1 Tablespoon salt (not iodized). Allow to cool.

Peel 3-4 kohlrabi, depending on size (recipe says 1 pound) and cut into slivers.
Cut fresh ginger into slices. Use 4.
Peel 2 cloves garlic, slice.
Place all these vegetables into the jar.
Optional: also 1 "red-hot pepper", seeded and sliced.

Pour cooled salt solution over vegetables. Add one tablespoon wine (I used a dry white wine.) and screw down cap. Place on counter. After three days, refrigerate.

Notes: Carbon dioxide bubbles form by the next morning. It appears to be a classic lactic acid fermentation. Best not to screw down lid too tightly, since some pressure might build up.

I substituted a tablespoon of Sambal Oelek for the hot pepper. A little too hot for my taste. One could use a red dry "Japanese" pepper instead.

1 comment:

Mom said...

Sounds good! I love kohlrabi!