Have you ever thought about making kimchi out of green beans?! This is the kind of wacky stuff that keeps me up at night. The truth is, virtually every vegetable can be fermented, and likewise, can be put through the kimchi process. Now, kimchi by definition doesn’t have to be spicy, nor coated in a red pepper paste, but that’s the way it’s most commonly prepared and thought of today, and that’s the style I wanted to make this in.
Green beans (sometimes called string beans, which are really just a type of green bean) are easy to grow and stay supremely crispy through so many types of fermentation. (Just try them as an alternative to cucumbers with my dill pickle recipe and you’ll see they easily stay crunchier over months and even years!) They truly are an amazing choice for kimchi! I’m so surprised it isn’t a thing, but maybe that all will start to change now!
The only real challenge with green beans is that they don’t contain much moisture, nothing at all compared to typical kimchi veggies like Napa cabbage, radishes, cucumber and others. So, massaging them in salt as with these other veggies is just not going to give you anywhere near the liquid you’ll need to submerge them in or to make a paste.
My easy solution was to make a porridge using rice flour as a base for the paste, which is a common ingredient / method in kimchi making. Also, juicy ingredients can be blended into the paste such as onion (as per my recipe), plus of course there will be the usuals like garlic, ginger, and (optional) hot peppers, all of which contain helpful moisture. And of course there’s the fish sauce or other umami liquids like soy sauce, and/or feel free to sub or add other sources of liquid such as Asian pear or other fruit juice (e.g. clementine, carrot, etc.), as I frequently do in my kimchi recipes. All the deets are below and I hope you enjoy this as much as I do!
Now let’s do this!
- Knife & cutting board
- Measuring cups & spoons
- Small/medium saucepan & whisk or stirring spoon
- Small blender or food processor (suggested)
- Large mixing bowl
- Kitchen gloves (for handling hot peppers or placing green beans in mason jars upright)
- Gram scale (optional)
- For whole green beans (my preferred method): larger fermentation vessel such as 5.2L E-Jen or two half gallon mason jars with airlock lids
- Otherwise, the green beans may be chopped at the beginning of the project (e.g. into 2-4 pieces per bean, just be uniform in whichever amount is chosen) to be packed into a smaller vessel such as quart mason jars.
- 1 lb. green beans (after cleaned, stems removed)
- 9g additive-free salt (or 1.5 tsp; 2% of the weight of green beans)
- 8 medium cloves garlic (30g, peeled & rough chopped)
- 1 finger ginger, shredded (12g) with a box grater (or cut into slices)
- 1/2 medium onion (or sweet onion), chopped, ~190g after peel removed
- 2 TBSP fish sauce (or sub with other umami liquid such as organic soy sauce)
- 1 TBSP organic or additive-free soy sauce (or sub with more fish sauce)
- 1 TBSP salt shrimp (optional)
- 1/2 cup gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes), 50g
- 2-3 green onions, cut into 1/4″ slices (the green onions are optional since there’s already plenty of onion in the recipe; however, it won’t overwhelm the final flavor)
- Optional: for a hotter kimchi, 1 chopped red jalapeno or hot peppers as desired
For the porridge:
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 TBSP glutinous rice flour (aka “sweet rice flour”)
- 2 TBSP sugar
1.) Make the porridge by adding the water and rice flour to saucepan over high heat and bringing to a boil, whisking/stirring constantly until a thick paste forms, usually within a few minutes. Then stir in the sugar well and remove from heat. Allow to cool.
2.) While the porridge cools, trim and clean the green beans. Then measure out and prepare all the other ingredients as indicated above.
3.) When the porridge is around room temperature (it can be slightly warm), add it to the blender/processor, followed by the salt, onion, chopped garlic, ginger, fish sauce, soy sauce, salt shrimp (optional), hot pepper (optional), and gochugaru. Blend/process on high until a uniform paste is made. (If no blender/processor is available, then each individual component should be minced well so that a paste can be mixed by hand; it’s okay if it isn’t perfectly smooth.)
4.) In large mixing bowl, combine the green beans and paste (and optional sliced green onions). Using gloved hands, mix well. Make sure all green beans are coated in the paste. Then transfer the green beans to the fermentation vessel.
This 5.2 liter E-Jen is a fantastic choice for this project and is one of my favorite devices to use for a larger volume ferment such as this (great for a double batch of my garlic dill pickles!). Actually, the E-Jen can accommodate tripling this green bean recipe for a bigger batch! If you need the E-Jen for other projects, then once the green beans are fermented, they can be transferred to glassware or Tupperware style storage in the fridge. Alternately, you can also opt to ferment the green beans upright in 1/2 gallon mason jar(s); it may take a little more effort getting them in there, and make sure to get all the paste in too.
However, if you don’t have large enough vessels for the whole beans, they can also be cut in pieces at the beginning of the project (as mentioned before) and will then easily fit into smaller jars such as quarts.
5.) Allow several days to a week or more to ferment at room temperature. Every few days you can sample to see the progression of flavor and decide when you want to fridge it. I go for 5-6 days at ambient temps in the high 60s / low 70s, but may eat it slowly from the fridge over a period of months. It will continue to ferment in the fridge but at a slower pace, getting more sour and pungent over time (in a good way of course!).
Notes: As with kimchi in general, the produce does not have to be strictly submerged in a brine the way we must with typical lacto-ferments. As long as the produce is well coated in the paste, the project will be absolutely fine under normal circumstances and can last as such in the fridge for months or even potentially years.
If you cut this up, it will be great in fried rice and is a great topping for some bi bim bap. Give it a try and show us your results in our Facebook Group!