Kimchi is the smelly cheese of the pickle world. If you’re like me, once you’ve had it few times, the smell becomes appealing, the taste even more so. I learned to love the funky Korean pickle in college at University of California at Santa Cruz. My dorm-mate down the hall kept a batch in her mini fridge. Every time she opened the refrigerator, the stinky-fishy-cabbage smell would drift down the hall, much to the horror of the freshman. She also had an electric rice cooker, so late at night we would have kimchi over rice with soy sauce, washed down with the occasional illicit bottle of beer. We thought we were so bohemian.
I’d been thinking of making kimchi from cabbage, but then I grew turnips for the first time this year in my garden. While there are hundreds of types of kimchi, root vegetables are a pretty common addition. Like their cousin the radish, turnips are very easy to grow, flourishing in the early spring. Once summer kicks in, it’s time to harvest, otherwise turnips turn hot and woody in the heat. I harvested all my turnips a few weeks ago and turned the whole batch into kimchi. Fermenting mellows the turnips considerably and brings out the sweetness of all the vegetables. Loads of garlic, ginger and hot chiles, with a little dash of fish sauce, turn this pickle into stinky heaven.