For Tasmanian-based kimchi maker Sue Glynn, witnessing the revival of fermented foods in Australian kitchens is a heart-warming personal journey — opening new doors to share her Korean food culture with others.
Sue’s deep-rooted passion for the ancient practice of fermentation is hard to miss.
When you enter her work kitchen, you are surrounded with jars of all different types of kimchi, finely crafted with traditional family recipes passed down over many generations.
“There are thousands of kimchi recipes in Korea, our recipe is more influenced by my mother and grandmothers’ North Korean recipes,” she says.
Kimchi is Korea’s national dish and every year families will gather and make enough of the preserve to last through the cold winters.
Sue’s been honing the art of making good kimchi for years, long before she migrated from her hometown Seoul in South Korea to Australia in her twenties.
“When I was young I always assisted my mother and watched her making kimchi, that’s how I started practising,” she says.
Sharing knowledge and passion
Since then, she’s taken her kimchi-making passion to the next level.
Red Russian kale, daikon, wombok and cabbage are just some of the organic vegetables you’ll find her growing with enthusiasm on her family farm in Stanley on Tasmania’s north-west coast.
“I love watching my vegetables grow from a tiny seed into an abundance of produce. Nature is so generous,” Sue says.
The avid kimchi connoisseur is also hosting workshops and classes to share her knowledge and passion with others.
“My goal is to invite people to learn more about their own fermentation, they are understanding more about healthy foods and they can make their own at home,” she says.
“They can look after themselves, their family and share it with their friends.”
She says she loves contributing to the community and supporting people in looking after their well-being and health by making and consuming good fermented produce.
Fermented foods trending
The ancient practice of fermentation is seeing a revival, especially since the pandemic with many of us spending more time in our home kitchens.
Lauren Brown, member of industry organisation FermenTasmania, says she’s seen an explosion of interest in fermented foods.
“I think as people had more time at home they got more interested in slow, traditional foods like interest in sourdough blew up with the pandemic,” she says.
Lauren says people were also looking for immunity boosting foods and fermentation is known for it’s health benefits.
So how do you make kimchi?
Sue says making kimchi is all about practice and the quality of your ingredients.
“The source where your vegetables come from and how they are grown is important,” she says.
“It will add value to the taste and aroma of the kimchi.”
She says the salt brine and chunkiness of the cabbage pieces are key elements to the art of fermenting kimchi.
“You need to be patient, slow fermentation will create beautiful aromas,” she says.
This is Sue’s recipe for flavour-packed kimchi:
(Makes 2kg of kimchi)
- 1 medium size green cabbage (chop into chunky 2cm thick pieces)
- ½ wombok (chop into chunky 2cm thick pieces)
- 1 small daikon (thick shredded)
- 50 grams garlic (crushed)
- 30 grams ginger (crushed)
- 60 g sea salt
- 80 gram gochugaru [Korean chili flakes]
- 2 spring onion
- 40 gram fresh cloudy apple juice (no additives)
- 1½ tea spoons organic fish sauce or coconut aminos
- 1.Wash and chop all the vegetables, put in a bowl and sprinkle the salt over for the brining process. Let it sit for at least 1 hour, toss around after initial 30 minutes. After one hour, taste the brine and adjust with additional salt or water if needed.
- 2.Add garlic, ginger, gochugaru, spring onion, fresh cloudy apple juice and organic fish sauce (or coconut aminos) and gently massage all the ingredients into the vegetable brine.
- 3.Ensure all the gochugaru is absorbed and your kimchi is getting a lovely orange-red colour.
- 4.Fill into glass jar (no tight lid) and your kimchi ready to start its fermentation process.
- 5.Depending on the climate and temperature your kimchi is fermenting in, it will be ready in three days if you are in a 20–23°C environment. It will take 7–10 days in a 15–18°C environment and 10-12 days if you are in a below 10°C environment.
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