Frugal Ferments: Bok Choy Kimchi

When you find a 3.5 pound bag of Bok Choy leaves on clearance for $.99, you snatch it up, right? Right. And then you decide whether to sauté it (delicious!!) or ferment it. This time, I opted for the latter.

Are you someone who feels uncomfortable with perusing the clearance items? If you’re not checking what’s deeply discounted, you could really be missing out. At my local Korean grocery, slightly past-their-prime produce sits on a rack in the produce section. Seriously marked down. I don’t always find something, but when I do, it’s a great deal; previously, for example, I’ve purchased slightly overripe lychee for a song and made incredible water kefir. I typically give the clearance section a once-over before leaving the area to continue shopping.

Nothing “ugly” here!

So what if the clearance produce isn’t “pretty”? If I’m planning to use it quickly and the flavor is uncompromised, why not? For a ferment, it’s going to be squashed and soaked in brine – pretty isn’t part of the formula. Imperfect produce? Yes, please…no wasted food!

The most labor-intensive part of the process was prepping the leaves; the bases needed to be scrubbed and trimmed, and it meant addressing each leaf individually to ensure that no grit remained (or I’d be finding it later in the finished kimchi). I also chose to slice the leaves into ribbons at that point for ease of handling.

Once prepped, I liberally salted the bok choy and pressed it down with a water-filled gallon carboy.

Let’s just say the weight caused the bok choy’s juice to be expelled hastily – I left it for about an hour.

Once pressed, I rinsed the bok choy thoroughly and added the spice mix. All that was left to do was pack it into jars, close the lids tightly, and wait for the magic to happen. I only let this one ferment for a couple of days, then placed it in the fridge (in a sealed bag) to slow the action down.

Though this kimchi was the result of an opportunity to take advantage of a deal, I would definitely make it again. The flavor is very similar to the more familiar Tongbaechu (Napa cabbage) kimchi (통배추김치) but the bok choy is juicier and the finished kimchi a bit more tender. I’ll be eating this one quickly and enjoying every bite of that spicy probiotic goodness!

Hot rice, 2 kinds of kimchi, and a fried egg…thanks for the great meal idea, Sarah!