Pickling is one of the most common and practical ways of making probiotic foods at home. Like the kimchi-loving Koreans, some Chinese families in Asia still make a variety of pickles at home. One type of pickle is made by a process of fermentation that is similar to Korean kimchi or European sauerkraut. Vegetables are submerged in brine and allowed to ferment for a period of time. Known as lacto-fermentation, the process creates acid and lowers the pH level making it possible to store the pickles for an extended period of time.
All kinds of vegetables are regularly used for pickling in this way. Napa cabbage is common in the North (just like kimchi in Korea), and in the South regular cabbage is used along with many different root vegetables. For this post I am including a Sichuan version of pickles that include cabbage, daikon radish, green radish, carrots and chilies. Green radish is often available in Chinatown, but it can be omitted or substituted with other root vegetables. Kohlrabi is excellent for this recipe and so is turnip. So just get enough vegetables to fill the jar.
Sichuan Fermented Pickles (四川泡菜)
Active time: 30 minutes
1 pound cabbage, cut into large pieces of about 2-inch squares
8 ounces daikon radish, cut into strips of about ½-inch thick
8 ounces green radish, cut into strips of about ½-inch thick
8 ounces carrots, cut into strips of about ½-inch thick
3 ounces ginger, cut into ¼-inch thick slices
2 red longhorn chili peppers
2 green longhorn chili peppers
1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
6 star anise
10 dried red chilies
4 bay leaves
1 cup white rice wine
¼ cup salt
2 quarts water, boiled and cooled to room temperature
1.Thoroughly clean a one-gallon Chinese pickle jar. To sterilize the pickle jar pour hot boiling water into the jar, swirl the hot water around then discard.
2.Combine the brine ingredients together and mix well, then add all the spice ingredients to the brine.
3.Put all the vegetables inside of the jar pushing them down tightly.
4.Pour the brine and spice mixture into the jar and make sure that the brine completely covers all the vegetables.
5.Pour water in the trough of the pickling jar to about half full. Cover the jar and let stand in a cool location of the kitchen for seven to ten days. The longer the vegetables are fermented the sourer they become.
6.Beginning on the seventh day, periodically remove the cover and sample the vegetables. When the sourness of the vegetables is to your liking then remove them from the jar and store refrigerated in a clean container with lid.
7.Cut the vegetables into small pieces of about ¼-inch thick before serving.
Recipe courtesy of: http://www.ecns.cn/learning-Chinese/2013/10-10/83714_2.shtml