So, my challenge was to find some summery recipes with which to use a fair amount of daikon. Behold the fruits of my labour.
Pickled Lemony Daikon and Celery
serves as a side for two or nibbles for a few more people
Prep time – 5 mins (plus an hour of leaving it on the kitchen counter)
2 sticks of celery
1/3 of a large Daikon (400g)
1 Tbsp Salt
Juice of 1 lemon
1. Rid your celery of stringy bits. Cut it into sticks (3cm long 1cm thick).
2. Peel the daikon. Cut in the same way as the celery.
3. Sprinkle the two with the Tbsp of salt and mix well. Try to squeeze it all together so the salt rubs into the veg thoroughly. Leave for an hour.
The best thing about this dish is that it’s a really tasty and easy way to incorporate fermented food into your diet. It basically demystified the aura of difficulty I perceived to surround the notion of home pickling. For those who are unaware, fermented foods are one of the most gut friendly things you could possibly consume.
a bit more on Fermentation, for anyone interested
Cue Sarah Wilson.
What is fermenting?
Lacto-fermentation has been around for eons as a health trick – all cultures have a history of fermenting veggies, dairy, nuts, grains etc for medicinal and digestion purposes. The nerdy stuff: it’s a biological process by which sugars – glucose, fructose, and sucrose – are converted into cellular energy and a metabolic byproduct – lactic acid. When the acidity rises due to lactic acid-fermenting organisms, many harmful micro-organisms are killed – so it’s often been used as a preserving technique.
To paraphrase her list of health benefits of fermented foods:
- Lactic acid enhances digestibility and increases levels of vitamins A & C.
- The process produces heaps of helpful enzymes and antibiotic substances.
- Lactic acid encourages the growth of healthy flora in the intestine – remember the Yakult ads?
- They’re rich in the cancer-fighting vitamin K
- Fermenting drastically cuts the sugar content of foods (hence my ability to drink wine and beer on a fructose free diet). This means it also helps to curb your sugar cravings.
For a more detailed analysis visit Mark’s Daily Apple
What are some examples of fermented foods I can buy?
Although it’s easy and fun to make yourself, there are plenty of ready to eat options. Just try to buy the most untampered with versions you can find (i.e. no long list of mystery ingredients):
- Sour dough
- Yogurt – preferably plain and full fat!
- Mixed pickled veg
- Indian Pickles
- Cured meats like raw ham and salami
*Available at Yumihana if you’re in Zurich.
what else can I ferment myself?
Generally speaking, root vegetables are best and easiest. However, I’ve eaten fermented aubergine, cucumbe, plums, cabbage, chinese cabbage, you name it. It just depends on the method you are choosing.
So how else can I ferment things?
I am by no means an expert on this topic, but I do plan on delving deeper into the process on an experimental basis.
Just Hungry is a great resource for Japanese style pickling – tsukemono
Nourished Kitchen even offers an e-course.
I reckon you can be a bit experimental – adding herbs, dried kombu, bonito flakes, garlic, chilli and spices will alter the flavours of your pickles considerably. The distinct taste of sauerkraut, for example, comes from the caraway seeds the cabbage is fermented with. Do a bit of research and give it a go. The most important thing is that you don’t see it as an immensely complicated process requiring tons of effort.
Just be sure to always use the most natural ingredients possible. Sea Salt (Celtic if possible). Organic veggies that are in season.
You’ll be able to tell if you botched your attempt – fermented foods have a distinct smell, that’s for sure, but they do still appear edible. If your batch smells incredibly funky, I would start again. Having said that, since the most important component for most simple fermenting processes is the salt and the veggies, it’s not that easy to go completely wrong.
The second chunk of the daikon and the cucumber pictured will appear next in my “Chinese” salad recipe.