Friday night has rolled around and left me widowed as usual. The day passed by, never resolving its battle between the urge to rain and the urge to push the clouds aside. As day light faded from the sky I felt the familiar dread of darkness and solitude stir as night time approached.
I flicked through podcasts on spotify and vaguely listened to ‘The Guilty Feminist’ in the background the same way people watch the news as they cook. Since childhood I have always had a deep suspicion about being alone at night time.
I halfheartedly cooked spaghetti bolognese and felt pleased that one such dish exists that can be achieved with minimal effort, limited risk and the enduring whiff of nostalgia. There are few things as trustworthy as a bowl of spaghetti bolognese.
Bolstered by my low-key success, I decided it was time to tackle the kimchi that had been hanging over my head since Tuesday. From the moment the beautiful cabbage arrived in the very hands of the farmers that birthed her I knew there was no way I could avoid the fermenting world this week.
Living in Byron Bay affords you no chance of avoiding the evangelical outpourings on fermented foods’ endless magical, healing powers.
I will admit I am no stranger to this world and I too have been lured by the sorcery of fermentation. Scobys have seemingly impossibly been killed in my care (you can’t kill them, they said), unforgivable amounts of honey have been squandered in my quests to make mead (it’s sooo easy, they said) and I ordered Sandor Katz’s book on fermentation way before every man and his dog was running workshops on this dark art.
I sifted through the online recipes (too much text in that big old real book perfectly placed on the cabinet) hoping to find one with the least exotic ingredients. Unfortunately there are none that do not include ‘gochugaru.’
I had made a special stop at the new Asian grocer in town in search of this apparently essential ‘gochugaru’ but finding none decide to dismiss it. My infinite wisdom should have known better.
At the critical moment in the recipe that calls for the gochugaru I panic and start googling substitutes… Obviously I’m not the only rookie who’s been here before. Someone says ‘sriracha,’ and so I put a bit of that in. No one says anything about chilli flakes but they are red and I bought them at the Asian store so I put an unquanifiable amount of them in too, just for good measure.
Apart from this one setback everything else comes along reasonably. There is ginger and garlic and onion and fish sauce and all that gets squished together and poured into the big jar happily sitting on the kitchen bench as evidence of an hour well spent.
I take a little nibble on a piece of cabbage about a half hour after the work has been done. It’s hard to imagine just how spicy this kimchi will be after the heat supposedly intensifies during the fermentation process but on a scale of 1 to 10 I think it will be approximately 80.