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Fermented Ginger Slaw

Ever massaged a cabbage leaf into a deliciously dopey torpor? You’d be forgiven if it wasn’t on your to-do list this afternoon. I’m here to tell you that it should be.

Pickling and fermenting have caused witchy hysteria from Berlin to Bantry: kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles, cheese, vinegar, kombucha and sourdough. All these funky ferments send your flavour radar into another stratosphere. But that’s not the best part. Fermenting your own fresh produce means less food waste during Lock Down, less shopping while we’re trying to avoid public places, and more trips to the loo. Yup. Let’s get to that last point swiftly.

Your gut is a jungle of microbiota who love a good party. These disco dudes feed on fructooligosaccharides (FOS), fibre and lacto-fermented foods like this ginger slaw. The trick to keeping your digestive health all tickety-poo (sorry) is to crowd out the nasty challengers and the gate-crashing pathogens.

The good news? It’s much easier than it sounds. Try making this purple party slaw. There’s also this video I made to show you just how easy kimchi is to make at home.

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1 red cabbage, rinsed and cored

1 tablespoon fine Celtic sea salt or Himalayan pink salt

1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, finely grated

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Shred the cabbage in whatever way you fancy. I use a nifty blade on my food processor, which probably bruises the edges a little but I’m no kitchen angel. If you download a good podcast, shredding finely with a sharp knife won’t feel so laborious. The finer the shredding, the better the result.

In your largest ceramic bowl, tumble the shredded cabbage with the salt and ginger. Leave for 2 hours (not an imperative step, but great advice for lazy people. The cabbage becomes softer and juicier to work with! Red cabbage takes longer to submit than, say, Napa cabbage which has a much higher water content and demands less massaging. Feel free to do a combination of cabbages).

When you return, massage the salt into the cabbage for 10 minutes before decanting into a very large glass jar (or several jars).

Press the cabbage down firmly inside your jar, encouraging the natural fresh salty juices to come to the top of the cabbage. Now place a weight on top of the cabbage to keep it submerged in its juices. I use a clean stone, which works theatrically well. My kids love this and anoint it with a spell.

Seal the jar loosely and keep at room temperature for three days, where it will fizz, gurgle and burp. Two days is loads during hot summer spells. You might like to place the jar(s) on a plate to avoid renegade juices.

Taste and decide whether it hits the spot. If yes, transfer to the fridge, where it will happily keep for months submerged in its lovejuice. If not, keep it on the kitchen counter for another 12 hours.

Sides, Vegan &/or Raw

Kimchi

Nobody wants to live forever; especially if you’re in pain or if your husband has halitosis.

Could we possibly enjoy both health and longevity as scientists continue to make huge advances in our understanding of human biology? I think even Disney would be doubtful.

If science cracks eternity, frankly we’ll still have unquantifiable, self-destructive tendencies like jaywalking or social boxing. Few of us will see our ninth decade. And those of us who do, will be burdened with arthritic shopping rounds, or worse still, bad conversation.

The most dramatic changes in our cells begin at the age of 38, says Dr Rose Anne Kenny. Foly huck! Kenny is professor of clinical geriatric medicine at Trinity College, so she has seen a thing of two. Next year when I hit 40, we’ll know if kale is all that super.

Making your own food with unprocessed, fresh ingredients is the ultimate ammo against aging. We can’t fight off the aging process, but we can certainly engage in battle. Every cookery class I give around the country, I’m always asked for my Number One kitchen tip. Here it is: eat a little salad before your supper. Not during. Not after. Just before. This will ensure you mainline a suite of antioxidants and essential minerals into your system before you fill up on other stuff. If you do this everyday, you will cash-in the benefits of 365 bowls of goodness each year to help your skin glow and your limbs ignite. Here’s one to get you started. Kale-free.

 

 

 

Kimchi

Makes 1 large jar

 

500g Napa cabbage or sweetheart, sliced

2 tablespoons fine sea salt

1 carrot, peeled

2 spring onions, trimmed

Bit of ginger, peeled and minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1-2 teaspoons Korean chilli flakes or 3 fresh red chillies

 

Massage the salt into the cabbage leaves until nicely softened. Cover with water, weigh it down with something heavy and leave for 1 hour.

Rinse under cold running water, and leave to drain on a clean tea towel.

Using a sharp potato peeler, slice thin long ribbons of carrot into a large bowl.

Halve the trimmed spring onions, and add to the bowl.

Now blitz the ginger, garlic, fish sauce and chilli with a little filtered water to form a paste. Add to the bowl of carrot and onion strips.

Now you can squeeze any excess water from your cabbage leaves before adding to the bowl of ingredients. Coat everything really well and transfer to a half-litre glass jar, pressing down firmly so the brine rises to cover the veg. Add a weight such as a clean stone or tiny bowl, and seal the jar at room temperature for 5 days (2 days in summer). Tah-dahhh! I like to stand mine in a bowl to catch any adventurous brine going AWAL. Transfer to your fridge and enjoy within the month.

 

Let me see your creations on Instagram @SusanJaneKitchen . Just tag me in the post, and I’ll high five you from here !

Salads & Suppers, Sides, x For Freezer x

A pot of Really Good Daal

During these biting wintry weekends, daal can be a life-enriching experience. It’s a form of spellbinding magic. My nostrils do an all-consuming samba as I inhale a whole load of happiness that only food chemists could explain. This is daal – noun, verb, adjective, it’s much more than a bowl of hot legumes.

Food is always my first medicinal port of call. I prepare daal to soothe indolent moods and sore hearts. It’s got to have lots of sizzling garlic and blood-thumping ginger. Like a hug, these are to help us feel grounded yet simultaneously lifted, something Indian cooking almost always achieves. The injection of chilli is life’s defibrillator – the bigger the burn, the quicker we wake and shake.

 

 

 

Yellow Daal

Serves 3-5

This daal’s got more kick than a bunny in heat. Yellow split peas will give the daal a chunkier consistency, boiled until softly crushed then stirred into slow cooked onions and spiked with spices.

Namaste, from my little Indian love nest.

 

250g yellow split peas, rinsed
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
3 tablespoons coconut oil, butter or ghee
1 white onion, finely diced
4 fat cloves of garlic
1 red chilli, sliced
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
Chunk of ginger, lightly peeled and grated
Squeeze of lime
Generous handful of plum tomatoes, halved
Natural yoghurt, to serve
Fresh coriander, to serve

 

Cook the split peas and ground turmeric in a small deep pan, covering with unsalted water. Let them putt-putter for 30-45 minutes until you can crush the peas between your thumb and forefinger. You’re looking for a soupy consistency.

While the peas gurgle away, gently colour the onions in your preferred form of fat (butter, coconut oil or ghee) over a low flame for 12 minutes. Turn up the flame, add the crushed garlic, chilli, cumin and grated ginger, stirring for a few minutes to prevent charring.

Now you can add the lime, fresh tomatoes and turn the heat right down to let the flavours socialise under a lid. After 10 minutes of cooking, stir through the cooked split peas. Serve in large bowls alongside some natural yoghurt and freshly torn coriander leaves. A plump poached egg also serves us well.