What's your favorite kind of sauerkraut?
August 1, 2010 4:57 PM   Subscribe

I love sauerkraut, and have my own favorites, but I'd like to try some new varieties. What is your favorite kind of sauerkraut (or other fermented cabbage/leaf/something) and where do you buy it?

Also interested in recommendations like "If you like sauerkraut you'll like ___". And yes, I love kimchi.
posted by fake to Food & Drink (17 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
have you tried making your own kimchi? its fun and messy.
posted by saragoodman3 at 4:57 PM on August 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I can only speak to Kimchi. If you see it in a glass jar at your local Safeway, it's anaemic and shameful stuff that should be avoided. Find your local Korean grocery and see what they have. They'll likely have some nice stuff in foil pouches or heavy-duty plastic bags.

Anyway, Kimchi is not just cabbage, and not always spicy. There's 깎뚜기 (gakdugi), which is pickled daikon radish (spicy), 오이소박이 (o-i-sobagi), which is pickled cucumbers (spicy), 물김치 (mul kimchi or "water" kimchi), mostly light pickling broth with some cabbage, daikon and some slivers of peppers (mild, unless you eat the pepper slivers), 백김치 (Baek kimchi, or "white" kimchi), which is more like sauerkraut since it is merely pickled and not spiced.

I would agree with saragoodman3 to try making your own-- while it can be a bit of a project, the results are well worthwhile. Many kimchi recipes call for fermented brine shrimp extract but fortunately, this may be excluded with no detrimental effect to the end product.
posted by holterbarbour at 5:18 PM on August 1, 2010 [2 favorites]

My favorite kraut is red cabbage & onions. And I make my own, as well as kimchi.

Try it - it's EASY, as long as you have someplace cool to ferment it in.
posted by IAmBroom at 5:49 PM on August 1, 2010

Best answer: Cooked sauerkraut in the German Beer Hall style is one of life's greatest pleasures. I used this recipe at a barbecue restaurant in Brooklyn, and the Village Voice called it "shockingly good."

In a heavy-bottomed pot, sautee a medium onion and a red bell pepper (both finely chopped) in 2 tablespoons butter. Add 1 large (24 oz) can of Sauerkraut, having drained most of the brine. Let cook for about 10 min, stirring every 2 minutes to get the kraut a bit browned.

Turn the stove down to simmer, and add:
1 can of lager (not witbier or heffe-weisse)
1/2 cup spicy brown mustard
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp ground juniper berries (use you coffee grinder)
1/2 tsp black pepper

Let cook for half an hour, stirring occasionally so the bottom doesn't burn.

Serve with pickles, porkchops, sausages, or anything you feel like. It's so good.
posted by Jon_Evil at 6:27 PM on August 1, 2010 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Track down the Kogi truck someday and have a kimchi quesadilla. The Universal City or Eagle Rock stops are pretty close to you.
posted by carsonb at 6:31 PM on August 1, 2010

Response by poster: IAmBroom, do you have a recipe you could outline?

The kind of specificity in Jon_Evil and holterbarbour's posts is exactly what I'm looking for.
posted by fake at 7:03 PM on August 1, 2010

Best answer: H-Mart exists out here-- in Irvine, Garden Grove, Norwalk, and Garden Grove. They're a giant Korean grocery chain. Ranch 99 should also work for your purposes as far as kimchi and panchan go.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 7:08 PM on August 1, 2010

Duh. That second Garden Grove should be "Diamond Bar."
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 7:08 PM on August 1, 2010

Best answer: I have a recipe for preparing sauerkraut passed to me from a good friend (a true German) who got it from his great-grandmother, who mentioned in her recipe book that it's been in the family since the 13th century. Here it is, having been updated to modern ingredients:

Two jars (64 oz) of sauerkraut (don't use cans), drained.
2 apples, cored and cubed
8 slices bacon
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cider vinegar

Fry bacon in pan, reserve up to 2 tbsp of fat.
Mix sauerkraut, apples, and brown sugar.
In an oven-safe casserole dish, alternate layers of sauerkraut mix with bacon; pour cider vinegar over top. (Optional: sprinkle with the reserved bacon fat.)
Cover, cook at 350F for 4 hours with the last 15 minutes uncovered under the broiler. (It's done when the top is light brown.)
posted by aberrant at 7:29 PM on August 1, 2010 [2 favorites]

(and "cook" should have been "bake" - sorry 'bout that.)
posted by aberrant at 7:30 PM on August 1, 2010

The guy who blogs at Closet Cooking isn't Korean, but he sure does know his kimchi. Here's a basic recipe of his and a more elaborate one that includes apples, pears, and some other goodies.
posted by thisjax at 9:41 PM on August 1, 2010

Nthing...make your own! Recipes are everywhere (including above), and the basic version is very simple. Nothin' to it.
posted by madmethods at 10:46 PM on August 1, 2010

Best answer: If you get into making your own, you can move beyond fermented cabbage leaves and into other vegetables, like "grated carrots...onions, garlic, seaweed, greens, Brussels sprouts, small whole heads of cabbage, turnips, beets, and burdock roots. You can also add fruits (apples, whole or sliced, are classic), and herbs and spices."

Check out Sandor Katz' sauerkraut recipe at the Wild Fermentation website (where I pulled the list above from).
posted by slogger at 7:57 AM on August 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yes! Sauerkraut is really, really easy to make, and once you know how you can experiment in any direction that amuses you. Sandor Katz's website is indeed a great place to start; see also his book, also called Wild Fermentation. Both are really fun to read -- Katz is a great writer.
posted by gum at 10:01 AM on August 2, 2010

Best answer: I've always been fascinated by the fact that so many different cultures have some kind of fermented cabbage as a staple food. The Germans and Koreans do seem to take it to a high art, though, don't they? I also recently found a mediterranean version (not sure if it was Turkish or Lebanese) at a middle eastern deli.

My favorite is kimchi soup, or kimchi jigae. There's a recipe here and here. A Korean friend of mine says that to get the soup right, make sure to buy kimchi that's well fermented. If it's too new, it doesn't quite give you the depth of taste that's good. She also recommends buying fatty pork, the best being uncured bacon (or pork belly), but other fatty parts like shoulder or butt work too. And the other secret is to use a fish broth made from dried fish as the base.

I may be revealing my inner rube-ness, but I grew up eating Frank's Kraut in Wisconsin (my dad drove a truck that delivered cabbages to the plant). I love the extra sour tang of this particular brand, and prefer it to many of the milder German and Polish styles I've tried.
posted by amusebuche at 11:03 AM on August 2, 2010

Response by poster: I started out on Franks as well, and always loved it. Thanks for all the suggestions, I have plenty to explore (but looking for more, always!).
posted by fake at 3:06 PM on August 2, 2010

Most people don't know that Tabasco sauce is made from hot peppers that are ground up and fermented in the same way as sauerkraut, then adding vinegar to make a thin liquid.

maybe you could give that a try?
posted by ArgentCorvid at 9:27 PM on August 2, 2010

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