Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Kooky Korean Kondiment

Last summer, some friends and I attended a kimchi cooking class in Burlington. Each dish we sampled there was SCRUMPTIOUS, but one of the things that I was intrigued by were all the condiments that you could add to your food. My favorite were these garlic scapes that were cut up and pickled in a soy-based brine. So yummy! Of course, this was August, and garlic scapes were long gone from the local markets, so I had to wait a whole year to make my own. But I finally did!
The kimchi lady, Michelle, told me that she used the following brine from Maangchi's site: 5 cups of water, 1/4 cup salt, 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of soy sauce, and 1/2 cup of vinegar, boiled.  That's it...that's all I had to go on. That is the brine I made, but I doubled the vinegar to one cup total. When I make it in the future, I would cut the sugar down by half and double the vinegar yet again. I think I might also leave out the salt and just use more soy sauce. Still, the resulting pickled bits were very tasty...just a bit sweet for my tastes.
The other issue is that garlic scapes are tough, and they need to be cooked for awhile to be edible (IMHO). Now you could boil them in the brine until crisp-tender, then pack them in containers afterward. But I decided to do it the other way around, packing the cut scapes (half-inch pieces) into pint-sized canning jars, covering with hot brine, and then processing them in a boiling water bath for ten minutes. However--and I MUST STRESS THIS IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION--this is not a proper canning recipe, as the water-vinegar ratio would have to be at least 50-50. So the resulting jars of Korean pickled scapes should NOT be considered shelf stable! Oh, the jars will seal upon cooling, of course, but then store them in the fridge as you would do anything perishable. Then sprinkle the pickled scape bits on top of any of your favorite Asian recipes, like fried rice or noodles or what have you.

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