Most of us grew up with a big “ewwwww!” when it came to brussel sprouts. Usually they were boiled to death and could only be resuscitated with slatherings of butter and blizzards of salt. With fermenting, especially in the kimchi style, brussel sprouts can again be a delectable taste treat, and a very healthy one to boot (don’t worry, this one shouldn’t make you “boot”). One of the subscribers to this site wrote a while back asking for a recipe for making fermented brussel sprout kimchi. I waited until the brussel sprouts showed up in my local co-op but as soon as they did I bought a few pounds of them. I gave a dear neighbor of mine a taste of this ferment straight from the crock after about 2 weeks and before she left, four times she asked “just one more, OK?” Oooh, this recipe is a good one. A real gourmet treat.
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Fermentation time: 2-3 weeks
Yield: 2 quarts
2 1/2 lbs brussel sprouts
1 medium daikon radish cut into discs
Brine of 3T sea salt and 4 cups water.
1 1/2 T diced ginger
1T diced garlic
4T red pepper
1T fish sauce or shrimp sauce (I excluded this)
- Rinse and gently clean the brussel sprouts, daikon, and ginger
- Slice the brussel sprouts in half lengthwise
- Cut the daikon into disks,approx 1/8″ thick. If you daikon is particularly fat, cut in half lengthwise first
- Dissolve the salt into the water to make a brine
- Place the brussel sprouts and daikon into the brine and let it soak for a few hours or overnight if you prefer. Do your best to compress the veggies to get as much of them under the liquid as possible.
- Drain the brine and reserve it for later
- Finely dice the ginger and garlic
- In a large bowl, mix the ginger and garlic with the drained vegetables, chili powder (and fish or shrimp sauce if you choose to add this) and toss
- Place everything in a wide-mouth glass jar or other fermenting vessel. Put some pressure on it with your fist to encourage compaction. Unlike cabbage ferments there will not be sufficient liquid in the veggies to fully cover the veggies.
- Add back in some (or perhaps all) of the reserved brine so that under pressure, the brine covers the veggies.
- Place a weight of some sort on the veggies to keep pressure on them and to encourage the liquid level to rise above the veggies. I’ve started using a clear plastic produce bag with about 1 quart of water in it as a weight. As one reader suggested, it’s a good idea to put brine in the bag rather than simply water given the possibility of the bag breaking and thus diluting the salt content of the ferment It’s important when sealing the bag to leave some looseness in the bag rather than filling it tightly with air. The looseness will allow the bag to settle and conform to the shape of the fermenting vessel, thus making a perfect seal which keeps air out but allows gasses to escape as needed. I’ve also used 1/2 gallon bottles filled with water as a weight too.
- Cover with a towel
- Let it sit for 2-3 weeks tasting regularly as you go to get a feel for how the flavor changes.
- Jar it up and refrigerate when you like it in order to significantly slow the fermentation
As part of the brassica family of plants, brussel sprouts contain sulforaphane, a chemical believed to have very strong anticancer properties and indole-3-carbinol, a chemical noted for boosting DNA repair in cells and which appears to block the growth of cancer cells. What a treat to be able to get all the heath benefits of raw brussel sprouts with probiotic benefits as well.
These morsels tenderize sufficiently in the fermentation process to make them pleasing to the tooth as well at to the taste palate. Great as an hors d’oeuvre or side dish, served straight or tossed with toasted sesame seeds or chopped chestnuts. or as a side dish for a main course. For the holidays, perhaps mound them in the center of some roasted beets. Enjoy.