“Biochymickal Arts” workshop at Foam, Brussels – Fermented vegetables

Between September 13 and September 15 I was invited to the “Biochymickal Arts” workshop held at Foam, Brussels. I gave a talk and a practical session on lacto-fermented vegetables.

As part of the talk, we tasted some samples I made and some kefir based drinks and fermented mushrooms prepared by Rasa. I will already post the recipes of what I made, hopefully Rasa’s will follow in a subsequent post.


You can ferment vegetables in a glazed crock with a water lock. This makes sense if you are working with large quantities. But screw-top jars or jars with a rubber seal on the top are perfectly good and much more handy to store in a kitchen (provided you keep them away from direct sunlight). Note that a screw top jar may bulge due to the CO2 pressure building up inside it (no worry, it will not explode unless you travel with it on a plane). A rubber top jar lets bubbles go out but then you can also lose more fermenting juice than in a screw-top jar.

fermenting seafood kimchi

To ferment, you need salt. Use fine sea or rock salt that has no additives inside it (iodine, anti-coagulants and so on…). These inhibit fermentation or can be potentially toxic, so please avoid.



The base:

16g artichokes (already clean, only heart)

88g patisson (small white pumpkin with a curly rim)

40g celery leaves

90g carrots

38g radishes


The condiment:

4 dry porcini

3 sun dried tomatoes, soaked in water

3 twigs of marjoram

1 tbs pine nuts

4 tbs parsley

For this kimchi I took inspiration from typical vegetables that are used in Mediterranean cuisine, such as artichokes and the “duo” celery + carrot. Radishes and patisson are less usual and are included for crunchiness. On the level of flavors I took inspiration from Korean recipes, where pine nuts are dry mushrooms are used to add flavor and then I thought I would also add some sun-dried tomatoes. This is a fermentation that is best samples when it is young, since the parsley will still have some texture and individual flavor and where all the different notes of vegetables and condiments will be quite sharp.


1. First get the ingredients of the base ready: chop all the vegetables in size-bite chunks and place them in a bowl.

2. Get on with the condiment. Place the dry porcini in a small amount of warm water and let infuse for a few minutes. Do the same with the sun-dried tomatoes. Keep the steeping water.

3. Now chop the porcini, sun dried tomatoes and parsley. Mix this with pine nuts and marjoram and add to the bowl containing the ingredients of the base. Add the salt, to a ratio of 30g for 2kg of vegetables, thus 4g of salt for the quantities of vegetables mentioned above. Mix well.

4. Boil some water and pour it in the jar you mean to use for your fermentation. Close the jar, shake well and pour water out (this is meant to sterilize your jar).

5. Now press all the vegetable mixture into the jar, making sure you do not have big gaps. Pour in the juice of mushrooms and tomatoes.

6. Close the jar well, store it somewhere at room temperature and away from direct sunlight.

Wait for 4 days. Your kimchi should be ready then and will taste best until day 8. By “best” I mean what appeal most to me, namely with the different flavors still distinctly present in the mix. Some people may find it best when all flavors blend, which happens around day 8. So this is up to you. After opening the jar, you will expose it to air and so to possible contamination. You may want to refrigerate after that, a measure that will also slow down further fermentation.

TIMEFRAME – 4 to 8 days.



Lately I have become increasingly interested in Korean fermentations. This is a recipe adapted from “The kinchee cookbook” by Kim Man-Jo, Lee Kyou-Tae and Lee O-Young (Periplus, 1997). The main characteristics of kimchee is that the vegetables are salted (in a brine or just salt) for a while, then rinsed and drained before being mixed with a seasoning paste. Oysters and shrimp paste usually speed up the fermentation. But there are also fish-based recipes requiring several weeks.


3 medium sized Kohl rabi (reserve the leaves or substitute with 1 bunch of radishes leaves)

85g sea salt

1,2l water


65ml rice porridge (made with ½ cup water and half TBS rice flour)

1/3 cup fermented shrimp paste

1/8 cup red chili flakes

1/3 cup red chili powder

1/6 cup finely chopped ginger

1/3 cup finely chopped garlic

5 spring onions cut in 4cm lengths

½ cup fresh oysters


1. First cut the kohl rabi into 1,5cm cubes.

2. Then make a brine by dissolving 70g salt in the water. Let it cool down.

3. Now add the cubes of kohl rabi to the brine and let stand for at least 4 hours (make sure they are immersed in the water, otherwise use a plate to keep them down). Drain, rinse under cold water and drain again.

4. Make the seasoning paste by combining in a bowl the rice porridge, the fish paste, chili flakes and powder, ginger, garlic. Add the scallions and kohl rabi. Toss everything together gently.

5. Place everything in a container, place the leaves on the top and let stand for 3-4 days.

6. Transfer to a fridge afterwards and consume within 4 days.

TIMEFRAME : 3-4 days



This is an all time favourite. It can store for years and the tamari juice becomes an ultimate delicacy. The one I brought to the workshop was more than a year old and I’m sure it will be all gone before the new year arrives. Anyway…I have made it by adapting a recipe from the very precious book “Quick and Easy Tsukemono” by Hikuko Hisamatsu. Instead of soy sauce, I go for tamari, which is itself the juice of miso and hence a fermented product. Whether you use tamari or soy sauce, go for the good stuff and stay away from supermarket brands. You will be rewarded.

You basically take whole cloves of garlic, you wash them and pat them dry with a cloth. Then you place then in a glass jar (which you will have sterilized in advance) and you pour tamari over them. You can also add a small quantity of rice vinegar or apple vinegar (a proportion of 1 cup to every liter of tamari). After that you basically forget your jar for a few months. The best flavors develop after 5 or 6 months and then the mix keeps improving indefinitely.

I once had a chance to try a ten year old jar, it was fabulous and the garlic melted in my mouth like a sweet…

Links to the workshop and to foam:

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: