What an exciting few weeks it’s been! Thank you for supporting Bowl—the reception has really blown me away. I apologize if I’ve already inundated you with these news items on other social media channels, but if you missed any of it, check out this New York Times article that still has me feeling faint, and bowls in Vogue, and then a few pieces I wrote for Food52: on Dashi, and Vegetarian Pho Broth, and, finally, The Anatomy of a Broth Bowl. (All these links have recipes.) Lastly, if you live in or near Seattle, I hope you’ll stop by Book Larder next Friday.
In spring I always crave kimchi, in part because the dismal farmers market offerings leave me wanting color and assertive flavor, and in part because spring cleaning and probiotics seem to go hand in hand. You probably know that kimchi is a whole category of fermented foods beyond just Napa cabbage, and this carrot version—inspired by the nubby little carrots I did find at the market, though they’re likely the dregs of last fall’s crop—is one I’ve been tinkering with for a few weeks.
The process is the same for other kimchi I’ve made: soak the vegetables in a brine, and then combine with lots of aromatics (ginger, garlic, scallion), the Korean pepper flakes called gochugaru, and a flour- or rice flour–sludge that turns that mixture into a paste. I’m excited to start playing around when spring vegetables arrive—I imagine that a garlic scape and spring onion kimchi will be fun (and while we’re at it, why not ramps?).
I’ve been eating them mostly as a snack, but chop them up and add to grain salads and wraps, or as a condiment with rice bowls like bibimbap, or even serve them in a little dish as a spicy pickle alongside a cheese spread. And definitely you can use them as as swizzle sticks in Bloody Marys.
I prefer using small carrots—about 4- or 5-inches in length and not too thick—but you can certainly use larger ones; just cut them down into sticks about 4-inches long and then quarter or halve them so that they’re the thickness of a pencil. And while it’s inarguably tedious to peel all those little carrots, I made the kimchi both ways, peeled and not, and the peeled ones make the finished kimchi better.
Makes about 1 pint
Just under a pound of small carrots, peeled (see note)
3 tablespoons kosher salt
1 heaping tablespoon glutinous rice flour or all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ginger, cut into thin matchsticks
3 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
2 scallions, green and white parts, sliced thinly
2 tablespoons Korean pepper flakes (gochugaru), or more if necessary
½ teaspoon brown sugar, or more if necessary
A pinch or two of finishing slat, optional
Trim the ends off the carrots and cut them in halves or quarters lengthwise so that they’re all roughly the same thickness—about that of a pencil. Stir the salt into 6 cups of cold water in a large bowl until dissolved, then submerge the carrots in the brine and let stand for at least 3 hours, or overnight. They’ll taste nicely seasoned and be somewhat pliant after the soak.
Meanwhile, combine the rice flour with ½ cup water in a small saucepan and whisk until smooth. Place over a medium flame and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens a bit, to the consistency of pancake batter. It will take less than 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool. You can store this in an airtight container in the refrigerator overnight.
Drain the carrots and blot them dry. Combine them in a mixing bowl with the ginger, garlic, scallions, red pepper flakes, and brown sugar. Toss to combine, then add a heaping spoonful of the flour paste, mixing well, and adding more until the mixture is just moistened. Taste, adding more pepper flakes, a pinch or two of sugar, or salt if necessary.
Pack the carrots into a pint jar or a combination of smaller jars, pressing it down into a compact mass. Wipe the rim and seal tightly. Let stand for 2 days at room temperature, at which point you’ll see thin liquid begin to collect at the bottom of the jar, then move to the fridge, where the kimchi will keep for at least a month.