Vanessa Chang
(A Glutton with Brains)


a glutton with brains

La Ney Ferme Winter Bounty = Korean Winter Meal

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It's easy to cook in the summer. In fact, summer bounty means cooking is minimal, yet the possibilities abundant. Winter is a different story. Especially a winter here. Gone are tomatoes and eggplants. No more fresh chilies (maybe some of the dried if you prepared enough to make some).

Our winters mean minimal production for the home gardener. But for farmers with hoop houses and other means to extend the growing season like

La Ney Ferme

, it means a chance to stretch out the lives of tender young salad greens and herbs (who prefer the cooler climate anyway). Root vegetables thrive in times like this. Farmers like these create from soil so rich, even the humble vegetables taste sweet, complex, and nuanced.  You shouldn't waste a thing. 

But the problem is most of us have no idea what to do with a turnip or rutabaga. Even then root vegetables with leafy greens only yield a bit of bulb. What to do with the rest other than to throw it all away? So when I got a share from a cold December, I needed a bit more inspiration.

Enter the lost realm of kitchen knowledge and recipes. We all have a source somewhere down our ancestral line or through a quick google search. With a bit of superficial research we discover that there's more to life than potatoes (blasphemy, I know) and that in fact, a bit of winter root veg and leafy greens can yield a magnificently easy dish for cold and busy times such as these.

For me, it's a recipe for a Korean style of soup that requires a handful of aromatic ingredients, mostly local. And for the hardy bitter greens, they yield beautifully in a quick and simple kimchi.

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The kimchi is simple and scarcely a recipe. Kimchi doesn't refer to the ubiquitous Napa cabbage, but rather the process of curing and fermenting the vegetable matter in question. And that's the beauty of kimchi. You can make it from anything. Including the greens you would normally throw away. And it's easy:

* For every pound of veg you have, plan on a tablespoon of sea salt. Sprinkle it over the greens and let it sit at least four hours. Preferably overnight. A lot of water will leach out. The leaves become soggy. Drain the salt water and rinse thoroughly a few times under cold running water. Squeeze dry.

* Make a paste out of 2 tablespoons sweet rice flour (all-purpose if you must) and 1 cup of water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until thickened. Cook for about 12 minutes. Let cool. Mix in: 2 tablespoons Korean chili flakes, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 clove minced garlic, 1/2 minced onion, 2 chopped green onion, 1 tablespoon minced ginger root, 1 tablespoon fish sauce and stir. 

* Mix this paste with the greens. Pack into jars or a tupperware container. Let it sit in a warm place in the kitchen for a day or two. Store in the fridge for up to a couple of months. The longer it sits, the tangier it gets. I love it.

Of course, if you have an abundance of root veg, go ahead and use the whole plant. If the bulbs are big, cut them in half of quarters. 

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Now onto the soup. It's even simpler and keeps well for a couple of days. It relies on a little beef, a few aromatics, and water. That's it. No bone broth. No complicated steps. Just chop, season and mix, and boil.

La Ney Ferme's share of winter greens and turnips worked perfectly for these Korean dishes. Two dishes, one vegetable. Not a bad day.

Spicy Beef & Root Vegetable Soup

* 6 ounces beef brisket, ribeye, flank (anything, really), chopped

* about the same amount of root veg (daikon, turnips, rutabaga, etc.) peeled and cut into same size

* 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

* 2 tablespoons Korean red chili flakes (found at Korean markets)

* 1 tablespoon fish sauce

* 1 teaspoon sea salt

* 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil

* green onions or chives, chopped to garnish

Mix everything but the green onions/chives together in a bowl.

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Place into a pot and pour over 1 quart plus 1 cup cold water. Cover and bring to a boil. Let cook for 20 minutes, removing any scum or foam that comes to the surface. Reduce the heat and cook for another 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Serve piping hot with chopped green onion or chives. Eat with rice and the turnip greens kimchi listed above.

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Eat your veggies. Even your turnips. 

*NOTE: Don't substitute conventional red chili flakes. Korean varieties rely on a special chili that gives it a great brick red color. It's also de-seeded and pressed so it's unique.