Watermelon rind kimchi
It's too hot to cook and it's almost too hot to blog, too. I have put off some culinary projects because I don't want to increase the room temperature in my flat any further. So it's salads and simple snacks that currently appear on my weekly menu. Anything that can be created without using the stove or oven.
Watermelon is great for cooling down in these temperatures. A couple of weeks ago I have shared a recipe with you that uses the rind of the watermelon. As promised I will share another way to use the often discarded rind. I am so happy to have learned a few years ago that it is in fact edible. In the US (and especially Southern states) it is known that the rind can be used for pickles. We are slowly catching on in Europe, too. When I told my local green grocers that I am going to turn the rind into a pickle, he knowingly nodded his head. And I am convinced in a few years time recipes that make use of the rind will appear regularly in recipe magazines and cookbooks.
This time I have decided to make a kimchi with the rind. I have made kimchi before with napa cabbage, radish and also puntarelle and thought that I might as well use watermelon rind for a change. The rind obviously does not have the same pungency, however it will probably make for a very mild kimchi, more subtle in flavour. It will be a great canvas for the other ingredients and spices. This recipe involves a tiny amount of cooking for the rice porridge, but it's rather quick to make and doesn't require a lot of effort and won't increase the heat too much in your kitchen.
The amount of rind you will yield from one watermelon obviously depends on the size of the melon. As with most leftovers it is a bit tricky to give a recipe with exact quantities. I decided to make a kimchi with kohlrabi following the recipe on fermentation website Wilde Fermente (German) and see how much rind I will get from a watermelon weighing a little under 2 kg. The rind was rather thin so I got 350 g in the end. The recipe for the kohlrabi kimchi asked for 850 g of peeled and chopped kohlrabi so I added about 50% of the other ingredients (additional vegetables and ingredients for the marinade). So the best way to go about this is buy the watermelon, scoop out the flesh, peel of the skin and see how much you have left. Then accordingly add 50%, 100% or more of each of the other ingredients of the recipe below. So if you have around 500 g of watermelon rind, increase the other ingredients by 50%. If you have around 700 g of watermelon rind, increase the other ingredients by 100%. Sounds complicated? I was never good at math, but somehow I get my head around this. It helps to use a calculator and write down all the quantities, so you don't get confused. I used leek instead of spring onion this time, because I had one sitting in my fridge, but I listed spring onion here, because that is easier to use with the quantities of the other ingredients than saying “quarter of a leek”.
watermelon rind kimchi
watermelon rind, peeled and flesh scraped off (in my case 350 g)
60 g rock salt or sea salt dissolved in 1 litre water
minimum of 1 tablespoon of rice porridge (see below)
1 small shallot
1-2 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 knob of ginger, ca. 3 cm, peeled
2-3 breakfast radishes
1 small leek or 1-2 spring onions
0.5 tablespoon fish sauce
0.5 - 1.5 tablespoons of Korean chilipowder (gochugaru, Korean red pepper)
1 tablespoon rice flour
1/2 tablespoon raw cane sugar
1 kilner jar holding 3/4 litres fitted with a rubber seal
1. Dissolve the salt in the water and set aside. Cut the watermelon rind in thick matchsticks about 2-3 mm thick and 5-6 mm long and put into a bowl. Pour over the brine made of the salt and water and leave for 3 hours.
2. While the watermelon rind is in the brine, slice the radishes, cut the carrot and leek into match-sticks and set aside.
3. Make the rice porridge by heating 125 ml water in a small saucepan.* Once boiling add 1 tablespoon of rice flour and lower the heat to low. Stir until dissolved and the porridge has a glue-like consistency. This will take about 5 minutes. Then add the raw cane sugar and cook for a further 3 minutes. Set aside to cool.
4. Coarsely chop the shallot, garlic and ginger and puree with 1 tablespoon of the rice porridge in a food processor or with a handheld blender. Add the fish sauce and chili flakes (quantity depends on how hot you would like your kimchi).
4. After three hours strain the watermelon rind, reserving a part of the brine. Rinse 2-3 times tasting bits in between. It should taste salty, but the salt shouldn’t be overpowering. Place the watermelon rind in a bowl and add the vegetables and the puree and mix. This is best done with your hands, but I recommend you wear rubber gloves to do this. If the mixture is too dry, add a little bit of the brine. The vegetables and rind should be completely covered with the chili mix. Fill the kilner jar with the kimchi and press down so there are no air bubbles trapped. Clean the walls and rim of the jar and close the lid. Leave to ferment for 5 days on your kitchen counter. If the temperature in your kitchen is high (mine is currently 27 degrees C) your kimchi might be ready after 3-4 days already. Store in the fridge to slow down the fermentation.
*If you want to avoid making the rice porridge, you may also use the flesh of a pureed nashi pear instead. The yeast on the skin of the nashi pear will help with the fermentation. However you need to be careful when opening the jar. Pressure can easily build up and you don't want the contents to splash on your kitchen walls or ceiling (best to cover it with a tea towel when opening).