Shoreditch House executive head chef Gilbert Holmes shares a method for pickling nearly anything; plus the Korean cabbage recipe that’s good for your gut
We start by getting a Napa cabbage cut into quarters and carefully seasoned with sea salt flakes and sugar, pretty much a 70/30 ratio of salt to sugar.
The cabbage is left overnight so that the salt and sugar breaks it down and some of the natural juices are lost. Next, we wash the leaves in cold water to remove any excess salt. In a separate bowl we have garlic, fresh ginger, carrots, soy sauce, sugar, smoked paprika, chilli and hon dashi (a dried tuna powder). Everything is blended together using a small blender or food processor until it resembles a tomato paste consistency.
Once the cabbage is washed and dried, we carefully rub some kimchi paste into each leaf of the Napa cabbage. Now, all that’s left to do is store it away in an ambient temperature: in a dry store, pantry or just out in the kitchen areas (away from the floors) and covered. The fermentation process begins fairly quickly and it can actually be eaten three days after storage but at Shoreditch House we leave our kimchi to ferment for a total of two weeks. In this time the cabbage breaks down quite a lot and the flavours intensify.
Pickles are another cooking or preserving method that adds a massive amount of flavour to a dish. At Shoreditch House we do all our pickles in a standard recipe that is sweeter than most: a very simple ratio of one part sugar, one apple cider vinegar and two parts water, just brought to the boil and then chilled.
This base pickle liquid is very good just as is, but to add even more depth of flavour you can add spices such as turmeric for colour, coriander, mustard seeds, cumin or herbs such as dill, thyme and rosemary. The choices are endless, as long as the vinegar and the sugar work together and one does not overpower the other.
An easy one for the home cook and one of the first pickles a chef would normally make is red onions. Try it using that same ratio as before, but this time before you cool the liquid down, add sliced red onion and leave to cool down naturally. The heat will pickle the onions faster and by the time the mixture cools completely you have lovely bright red, soft, sweet pickled onions that go really well with burgers, cheese, hot dogs or even just by themselves