14 November 2015

Oi-Sobagi- Korean Fermented Cucumber Kimchee

My last post was about eating fermented foods for health and to help reverse the affects of the Standard American Diet, (also known as S.A.D), so I thought I would share my tutorial  on making one of my favorite fermented foods, Oi-Sobagi.

I ran across a video on youtube.com last year, made by Maangchi, who specializes in Korean foods. Her video is very thorough and made it easy for me to give fermented cucumber kimchee a try, but her recipe isn't vegan, and she recommends eating it fresh, with just a side thought about fermenting it. So I have developed my vegan naturally fermented version of Oi Sobagi that I eat practically every day.

The initial process is a little time consuming, but the end result is well worth the effort!

7x11 inch Pyrex baking dish with tight fitting plastic lid or equivilent sized plastic food storage container with tight fitting lid.

2 lbs. cucumbers, (persian cukes or pickling cukes, but not the 8" smooth waxy skinned type, they will turn to sludge) 
Enough salt to rub on cukes, 1/4 cup or maybe more
1 cup buchu, (garlic chives I get from the oriental market), or bunch of green onions
4 cloves garlic, peeled 
1 large white onion, peeled, cut in half through the equator,1/2 slivered other put in reserve to be blended.
1 medium carrot, cut into matchsticks
1/2 cup Korean hot pepper flakes, *note..regular red pepper flakes will not work with this!
1 tbsp. honey or maple syrup or agave
1 tbsp. tapioca flour, (unbleached white flour will do in a pinch, but is more starchy that tapioca flour which can be found at any Asian market Bob's Red Mill also carries it)
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp hot sesame oil, (found on the International food aisle in most grocery stores)
1 heaping tbsp. dried wakame and 1 heaping tsp. dried Hijiki, soaked for 15 minutes then drained, (found in Asian market or at links below)
1/2 daikon Radish, matchsticked
1 capsule probiotic (optional, this recipe will ferment on its own, but it ferments slower and in warm weather there is more risk of it molding so I add probiotic for a quick ferment).
2" piece of ginger, peeled
1/2 tsp. salt

Split cucumbers lengthwise, stopping 1/2" from the stem end of the cucumber.  Do half-turn and split again. the cuke should fall open slightly when stood on its end.

 Sprinkle salt over each of the spears, making sure to get it into the center. Note this technique makes for a very attractive presentation, but if you just want to slice them in forths lengthwise it will be less time consuming, you just have to handle the cukes more carefully when turning and rinsing.

 Set aside.  Turn the cukes in the bowl moving the ones on the bottom to the top, every half hour for 2 hours.

  Meanwhile, with a mandoline, Spirooli or a sharp knife cut carrot and daikon into matchsticks.

 I use the Spirooli for the daikon,it makes quick work of the daikon and then you can cut the spirals into smaller 1-2 inch long pieces. 

 Cut the Buchu into 1 1/2-2 inch lengths, if using green onions split lengthwise and then cut into 1 1/2-2 inch long pieces.

Heat water, dissolve tapioca power until thin paste is made.  Place tapioca water, chili oil, half of wakami, (make sure wakame and Hijiki are soaked and drained before using!!), half of chili pepper flakes, ginger, 1/2 of white onion, and the garlic in the blender.  Add 1/2 tsp. salt, the agave or maple syrup, then add the capsule of probiotic and blend until a smooth paste. 

Wearing gloves to protect your hands from the chili oils, work chili paste, reserved chili flakes and the remaining wakame and the hijiki into the other vegetables,(carrots, daikon, onions slivers, green onions or buchu),then Mix thoroughly to cover all the vegetables with the chili paste mixture, set aside. 

After 2 hours, rinse cucumbers thoroughly using 3 rinses; drain and pat dry gently. 

When cucumbers are rinsed and drained, stuff each with the paste/vegetable mix; press firmly to close cucumber around stuffing somewhat, or if you chose to just cut the cukes in lengthwise quarters, make a layer of the cukes in dish and cover with  the vegetable/chili mixture.

 Place snugly together in container that seals tightly. Cover the surface of the cucumbers with plastic wrap to seal out air and press lightly to remove any air bubbles trapped between the cucumbers. put lid on container, making sure it is completely closed. Leave sitting out on counter to ferment for 2-4 days ( depending on how sour you like it. I let mine go 3-4 days, tasting every day starting at day 2 to see when it is the right degree of sour...it depends a lot on the temperature and each environment is different), removing lid twice a day to press gently on plastic wrap lining to remove air bubbles. Do not remove plastic wrap.When pressed, liquid should start to rise around the edges of the container. At the end of two days the Oi-Sobagi should smell appealingly sour, they are ready to eat at this point, but you may leave it up to 4 days to achieve your desired degree of tart.. Place container in fridge. 

Oi-Sobagi is delicious served with a small bowl of jasmine rice, or chopped and added to a dinner salad of mixed greens and other vegetables. I find that with the Oi-Sobagi on the salad no dressing is required, so it makes for a very lo-cal salad. It lasts for weeks on end in the fridge after being fermented... unless you are at my house... then it's days are numbered, since I just can't get enough of it!

Please don't be intimidated by the ingredient list, the ingredients are easily obtained from an Asian market or online, (I have made a list of links for then ingredients below). 

The Road to Health is Paved with Dietary Changes, Part One- Fermented Foods

In a recent post on www.aprepperspantryjournal.blogspot.com I mentioned the importance of incorporating naturally fermented foods into the diet. I thought that the subject was important enough to discuss here at length, so here I go...

The Standard American Diet, also known as  S.A.D., is fraught with dietary hazards. Americans love their meat and potatoes, white bread, simple carb snacks and soda. In moderation, some of those choices aren't a bad thing, but moderation is the key word... Unfortunately, much of the American diet is made up of these foods. Drive-thru hamburger or chicken sandwich dinners with fries and a soft drink are standard fare, (as evidenced by the number of florishing fast food restaurants), and a frightening amount of chicken fingers, hamburger, pizza and hot dogs are fed to American children. Even meals consumed at home are often made up primarily of processed foods, high in salt, simple carbs, sugar and fats but short on nutrients, enzymes and roughage.

  Eating the S.A.D is a recipe for health suicide. High cholesterol, high blood pressure, a suppressed immune systems, digestive issues, kidney and gall bladder problems, metabolism issues and obesity, are common ailments that are directly related to the poor American diet. We are one of the best fed nations in the world and we are literally slowly starving to death. Processed foods like white bread, sugar, soda and fried foods, are comprised of mostly simple carbs or fat, with little nutritional value, little or no roughage and far more calories than are reasonable to consume for the nutrition they provide. But worse than that is what actually happens in the gut (digestive system), when food that contain white flour,(which is mostly simple carbs and water insoluble gluten), highly processed foods and fats are consumed on a regular basis. The villi in the intestine become coated with the cloying, paste-like combination of water insoluable gluten and fat, impeding the absorption of vital nutrients. Over time this coating builds up on the walls of the intestines, acting as a tooth for other intestinal debris to cling to, so less and less nutrition can be absorbed, putrification ensues and toxins build up in the intestines causing inflammation. The lack of nutrient absorption causes the body to go into "starvation mode". In starvation mode the brain tells the body it is hungry, so the person eats, but due to the goop in the gut, little nutrition makes it to the blood stream, and the signal that the body needs food continues to be sent out. The person eats more but the body is still starving... This toxic, inflamed, starved environment is the root cause of gastrointestinal disease, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, kidney disease, cancer, and a host of auto immune disorders that are running rampant among the U.S population, and not only in adults, but in children as well.

So what does any of this have to do with fermented foods? Well, the conversation is actually much larger than just the need for consuming naturally fermented foods. The conversation really needs to be about tossing the S.A.D and replacing it with a diet rich in fresh, living foods,complex carbohydrates and and clean proteins, as well as detoxing and cleansing the body, but fermented foods is a good place to start. The root of all illness is inflammation and the gastrointestinal tract, or the gut, is critical to overall health.  In order to reverse the life threatening effects of the S.A.D., beneficial bacteria must be introduced to the digestive tract. Naturally fermented foods are full of life. They are teeming with vital beneficial flora to help with digestion and gut health.  These bacteria promote health by stimulating the immune system, improving the digestion and absorption of nutrients, and inhibiting the growth of pathogens in the digestive tract, thus reducing disease causing inflammation. They create a hospitable environment for  the healing and restoration of the body's natural balance to begin.

Vegetable medley,  spiced beets, green cabbage sauerkraut
 with carrot, apple and caraway, sweet and hot daikon radishes,
and beet and red cabbage sauerkraut with allspice.
 These will provide our family with tasty, living foods, teeming
 with  vital probiotic bacteria.

While naturally fermented, unpasturized foods will by themselves not undo the all damage done by the S.A.D., it is a good place to start. There are many forms of fermented foods, raw
fermented sauerkraut, raw fermented vegetables, unpasteurized miso, and home made yogurt to name a few. Most store purchased versions of fermented foods are likely to be pasteurized which destroys the living bacteria thus defeating the purpose. If you want to make use of probiotic bacteria to improve your gastrointestinal health, you will probably need to make your own probiotic foods.

Why do I need to make my own fermented foods? Can't I just take a probiotic tablet and be done with it? Well...some is better than none. Probiotic capsules can help, but they are not able to stand up to the strength and strains of the real deal. While the numbers of bacteria in a probiotic capsule may sound dizzying, 50 billion+ living bacteria, it pales in comparison to the 10 Trillion bacteria in a serving of fermented sauerkraut. 1*Two oz.s of home fermented sauerkraut has more probiotics than a bottle of 100 count probiotic capsules. Translated this means 16 ounce of sauerkraut is equal to 8 bottles of probiotics."  It is not only the number of bacteria that counts though, it is also the kinds of bacteria that is important. Naturally fermented foods have as many as 28 different strains of beneficial bacteria, (numbering in the trillions per serving), depending on the kind of vegetable and the environment it was fermented in.  A medium grade probiotic cap will contain 5 strains of bacteria, while the top of the 2*line brands may contain 10 strains. Commercially produced yogurts are cultured with two strains of lacto bacilli.

  As with most things discussed on the internet, there are all kinds of numbers being bandied around and all kinds of discussions and debates on the web about the best way to introduce beneficial bacteria into the diet. I am not really interested in the arguments that float around the internet. I have tried to present substantiated info in what I write where it is possible, but what I live by and try to promote is to K.I.S.S, keep it simply sustainable. Creating your own fresh, wholesome fermented foods is both simple and sustainable. As long as you have fresh veggies, salt and a clean container you can ferment your own foods. As a bonus, fermented foods not only help populate your gut with a variety of beneficial bacteria to aid in gastrointestinal health, they will nourish your body with the nutrients, enzymes and fiber that are available in the vegetables themselves. You can't get nourishment or fiber from a probiotic capsule.

There is also the budgetary impact to consider, raw fermented foods are prohibitively expensive to buy in the store, if you can find them at all. Foods fermented at home cost no more than buying the ingredients for a side dish to a meal. The prep time for fermented foods are short, and once they have been through the fermentation process, will last for weeks (or months), in the fridge. At our home I keep a number of jars of fermented foods in the works, since we consume them daily and nothing is left in the fridge for long!

 If you are troubled by I.B.S., acid reflux, gas, bloating, diarrhea, obesity, metabolism issues, or any of a long list of auto immune disorders, like M.S., Lupus, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Crohn's, Fibromyalgia, Type 1 Diabetes and more, creating a healthy environment where beneficial bacteria can colonize is a good first step in restoring the body's natural balance and healing. If you are blessed with good health and have no physical issues, now is a good time to get ahead of the curve and establish the habit of eating fermented foods before you do have a problem.

If you are interested in learning how to make your own fermented sauerkraut, here are a couple of links to tutorials I have written on this blog.  Making Raw Sauerkraut and Red Cabbage Sauerkraut (scroll down some on the post to find the recipe). And here is my newest recipe, Oi-Sobagi, also known as cucumber kimchee.

  I will be writing a post a week for several weeks on The Road to Health. Moving away from the Standard American Diet, and beginning the journey to a diet designed to promote health. Please feel free to ask questions and comments are always welcome! Hope to see you again soon!

1*A quote from Dr. Mercola, an osteopathic physician and best selling author of books on health.

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