Beach Greens & Lovage – Kimchi & Kimchi Soup

I had a couple of experiments that took some time, which meant by the time I was ready to try again, we were past that time of year. As this blog is a resource for myself as well, I figured I’d go ahead and type up these notes even though we’re past time for beach greens and lovage.

On the recommendation of a friend I got ahold of Plants we Eat, a book that was produced by NANA Corp.  It’s focused on more northern areas of Alaska, but there are still many of these plants here in Southeast Alaska. Not only does this book have information about traditionally collected plants, it also has information on traditional methods of preservation.

I also stumbled onto the Alaska Native Health Trust Consortium (ANTHC) YouTube video series called Store Out Your Backdoor which features chefs and cooks traveling around the state learning from elders and elders-in-training about traditional foods collection and preparation. I’ve really loved this video series, you get to explore communities around the state, look at foods that are sometimes found here in Southeast, learn about traditional food preparation methods, and learn about new food preparation ideas with foraged goods.


These resources, in addition to my plant books, got me excited to try some plants that I’ve never tried anywhere else and never had anyone show me.

Beach Greens 

Beach Greens
Big patches of beach greens.

These greens can be found on practically every beach around Juneau.  A beautiful green mounding plant with leaves that have a thickness that almost make them seem like a succulent. When you’re picking the early plant (early May) you can pick the full sprout, but as I learned from the ANTHC videos, later in the summer you just want to pick the tops of the plants. I stuck with picking the top three inches.

I had beach greens at the Rookery, lightly sauteed with oil and cranberries, as I mentioned in a past post. They’re nice fresh mixed in with greens as well. However, in The Plants We Eat Jones mentions that beach greens are commonly fermented in large barrels. Fermented? Sounded to me like I should give kimchi a go!

Lovage

Lovage
Dig into the center of larger lovage plants and pick the hidden tender young shoots.

Another spring/early summer green that I explored was Lovage (as mentioned in the ANTHC video above). When picked young the leaves were fairly tender, however once the plant grows larger, as in the picture in this post, you need to pull the large plant apart and pick the newly grown sprouts in the center of the plant.

Lovage has a very strong taste, along the lines of an herb. Lovage is related to cilantro and has a cilantro/celery taste. I wouldn’t eat it alone, but as an herb to mix in with salads or to use as seasoning, it’s very nice.

Beach Green Kimchi 

Beach Greens & Lovage Kimchi

This was a 100% bonafide experiment. And it actually turned out pretty good! I’m writing out the recipe as I made it, but I would definitely reduce the amount of pepper I used because this kimchi came out SPICY. In The Plants We Eat Jones mentioned that beach greens can take longer to ferment than other greens. With this in mind, I decided to be patient.  It took several weeks for this kimchi to ferment properly. Another thing that Jones mentioned was that beach greens need a shot of heat before they’re put up for fermenting. I did not do that and I think next year I’ll try that to see if it speeds up the fermenting.  I also think I’ll probably also add in raw oysters next time.

The kimchi recipe I used was loosely based on Hank Shaw’s Green Onion Kimchi recipe.  After watching some kimchi videos and reading a couple of other recipes I went ahead and winged it.

1 & 1/2 pounds beach greens
1/2 cup rough chopped lovage
1 cup of salt
1 cup water
2 tbsp rice flour
1/2 cup fish sauce
1 bunch green onions (rinsed and diced)
1/4 cup cayenne (I didn’t have Korean chile powder)
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp sesame seeds
3 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp minced ginger

Rinse beach greens and lovage well. Lay a layer of greens in a large mixing bowl, shake a liberal amount of salt over the greens, lay another layer, cover again with salt, continue until all greens and salt is used up. Press down greens and fill bowl with water until just barely covered. Let greens sit in the salt water for 2 hours, until you start to see the beach greens’ leaves darken.

Bring 1 cup of water to a boil and whisk in rice flour. Turn off heat and keep stirring until the flour is totally incorporated. Let cool. Then mix in the rest of the ingredients.

Once greens have soaked properly, drain and give a quick rinse. Press out any excess water.

Thoroughly mix the paste and the greens together and pack into a big jar, big enough to hold the kimchi as well as a ziplock back full of water. The ziplock with the water works as weight to push down the kimchi and keep the greens in their juice.

Leave at room temperature to ferment. After a few days you’ll see bubbles inside the jar. Let the kimchi ferment for a week and then start tasting to check fermentation level/taste, once it reaches the point you like, transfer to a jar with a lid and refrigerate. Once you start checking the fermentation, regularly poke around the edges of the kimchi jar to release the bubbles and gasses. I just used a chop stick.

A quart of beach greens kimchi.

Now this kimchi was very very spicy. A little too spicy for my tender tongue. However, I knew from the beginning that one of the things I was going to use this kimchi for kimchi soup.

Beach Green Kimchi Soup

Kimchi Soup
Kimchi soup topped with an egg yolk!

After reading loads and loads of recipes, this is what I came up with. Even using very very spicy kimchi, this turned into a delicious soup, right at the edge of my spice zone. Definitely a great way to use kimchi experiments, even if they turn out a little too spicy.

1/2 onion – diced
1/4 lb mushrooms – sliced
1 zucchini – 1/2 in cubes
1 cup kimchi – rough chopped
1/4 cup kimchi juice
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
5 green onions – cut into 1 inch angled pieces – save some aside for garnish
1 tsp soy sauce
1 pinch sugar
1 package silken tofu – 1/2 cubes
1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
egg yolks – for each bowl
rice – made on the side

Sautee onion until clear, about 5 min. Throw in mushrooms and sautee until brown, about another 5 minutes. Add in zucchini and cook until slightly browned, a couple more minutes. Add in kimchi and heat until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add kimchi liquid (pulled off the top of your kimchi jar), chicken broth and water. Bring to a boil, reduce, and simmer for 30 minutes. Add in green onions, soy sauce, sugar, and tofu and simmer for another 30 minutes. Remove from heat, add in sesame oil and any additional seasoning (salt, pepper) that you want.

Serve Soup over rice and top with an egg yolk.

Warming, spicy, with a nice depth of flavor.

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