Wednesday, June 17, 2009

CSA Week 2: A Case of Fairly Bad Timing

Another one of my little concerns with going the CSA route was, will I use everything up each week? One reason that I've stopped "meal planning" a week's worth of meals at a time is that things often change and you end up eating out one night, or you just can't work up the energy to make borscht another, and then there you are with all those beets. Even though I'd signed up for a half/single share with the CSA, I was still worried about having too many veggies. So it was with great relief, and no small quantity of smugness, that I used the last of last week's share on Monday.

Then on Tuesday, a nice man came to our house and repainted our circa-1940's glazed-enamel kitchen sink. This was significant because Tuesday is also the day for our weekly veggie pickup. Usually I like to wash some of the greens right away - prewashing them gets a somewhat messy and time-consuming step out of the way, and most greens will be OK for a day or two if you dry them well before you store them in the fridge. On Tuesday, however, the whole kitchen was masked off to protect it from paint spray, and we were under strict instructions to refrain from using the sink for the next 10 hours: conditions not ideal for washing, let alone cooking, a big haul of leafy greens. Plus, my hubby had a business dinner, and I was too tired from the day too even think about cooking. No veggies, therefore, were consumed on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, my hubby jetted off on a three-day business trip, leaving me with a head of lettuce, a bunch of collard greens, a bunch of baby turnips, two wicked big bunches of bok choy, and two garlic scapes all to myself. (Well, okay, my son is here, but three-year-olds aren't generally known to be voracious veggie eaters). What to do?

What to do. The collards are pretty young, so a quick braise with some garlic and kielbasa should do nicely for them. I like sausage-and-greens dishes, because the leftovers keep well and when you think you can't eat them anymore, they can be sliced up and turned into soup (add some diced potatoes or cannellini beans). So that's on the menu for tomorrow night. The bok choy should be able to hold out until Friday when I'll stir-fry it with a Player To Be Named Later. Thanks to the trusty Internet I've just learned that garlic scapes can be stir-fried (and also, what the heck garlic scapes are). But how about those turnips? They were billed as "salad turnips," meaning that they can be eaten raw, such as sliced up in a salad. They still have their greens attached, so I'll add those to tomorrow night's collards and kielbasa. I sliced up a turnip to taste a sample and it reminded me of daikon radish, and that made me think of radish kimchee.

I love radish kimchee. Sometimes I buy it in a jar, but mostly I make it at home using a recipe from Korean Cuisine by Young Sook Choi (note: I bought this book in the English/Chinese version from Amazon, but currently only the Korean edition is listed. Caveat emptor). It's not really a fermented kimchee - it only sits out for a day - but it's easy, quick and oh so yummy. (Well, if you like spicy food). I usually serve it as a side dish when I make Korean food or any Asian-style barbequed meat for dinner. You can also use it as one of the veggie dishes in bibim bap. Or for a really fast dinner, cook some rice, add a fried egg and some radish (or any other, for that matter) kimchee. Sometimes I even eat it with a little leftover rice for breakfast. And, radish kimchee can be kept in the refrigerator for a week - and if you have any left by then, you can add a little anchovy broth to whip up a kimchee stew (or a modified radish soup, which I'll post someday). (And now I really need to write that post on anchovy broth!).

Since the salad turnips tasted so much like radishes, I decided to give this a whirl. I think it's pretty tasty. One note; I don't think there's a substitute for Korean red pepper powder; you can try it with other red chilies but I just don't think it'll be the same. Make space in your cupboard for some go chu ga ru (red pepper powder) and in your fridge for some go chu jang (Korean hot pepper paste; not used in this particular recipe but in many others that I love); with those two things, you can make a lot of really great food.

Turnip Kimchee

A warning: this stuff is pretty addictive. I've eaten about a third of the batch, just while I was writing up this post. So much for "preserving the harvest."

8-10 oz baby turnips (1 small bunch, about 7 2-3" baby turnips), washed but not peeled, sliced thin
1 scallion, chopped into small pieces (1/2" or less
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Korean red pepper powder
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon minced or finely grated fresh ginger (optional).

Mix everything together. Transfer into a sealed container and let it sit around at room temperature for a while (up to overnight). Keeps refrigerated for one week.


Jen said...

Turnip kimchee sounds delicious. I made a few different kinds of kimchee last summer but not with turnips. The summer heat seems to help with the fermentation process and the production of lactic acid in the kimchee. Doohee taught me to freeze the go chu ga ru so I still have some from last year. I'll try to make kimchee again this summer. Thanks for sharing!

Karen said...

I dind't know about freezing the pepper powder- does that help it keep its kick? I'm still working with the big bag I bought more than a year ago - maybe it's time to start fresh :-)

Thanks for the tip, Jen!

Jen said...

I think freezing helps retain the flavor of the pepper powder. I freeze some of my herbs too(Kaffir lime leaves/lemongrass) and freezing helps retain their color. :-)