Did you know that “pho” is pronounced “fuh”? So when I tell people, “You need to get the pho kraut!,” it can sound a little threatening. But I really just mean, you need to eat this! It’s almost as delicious as pho soup. And if you don’t know what that is or never had it, it is an iconic soup from Vietnam with many wonderful spices; you need to go find some and try it this instant. For everyone else, let’s continue…
This was the sauerkraut I made to go on my Pho Reuben sandwich. I made that sandwich with pho spiced corned beef, pho fermented pickles, Russian dressing using my homemade Paleo mayo and pho-spiced Paleo ketchup. The swiss cheese was imported from Switzerland and the Rye bread was made by Bernhard’s German Bakery, another of Marietta, Georgia’s many hidden gems. It was an epic sandwich indeed!
This sauerkraut was full of flavor and I was happy to have plenty left over after my sandwich-making escapade was over. The pho-soup flavor really came through with the ground pho spice I used, not to mention the other customary ingredients of fresh basil, lime juice, garlic, and fish sauce. You can also add jalapeno or other hot pepper for a spicy kick, which of course I did.
With no further ado, here’s the recipe.
This is for a quart jar of sauerkraut. Just double the quantities for a half gallon.
You will need:
- Knife & cutting board
- Spice grinder
- Large mixing bowl
- Measuring cups & spoons
- Garlic press
- Suggested: canning funnel
- Suggested: fermenting weight & airlock
- 2 – 2.5 lbs. cabbage (before peeled & cored)
- 1 TBSP additive-free salt
- 1 TBSP sugar (optional)
- 1 TBSP mixed pho spice, ground (exclude cinnamon stick, as it may damage spice grinder)
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- Several basil leaves (~4-5g), minced
- Several stalks of cilantro (~4-5g), chopped
- 1 tsp fish sauce
- 3 large garlic cloves (~15g), run through a garlic press
- Juice and zest of one lime
- Optional: sliced or minced jalapeno or other hot pepper
- Optional: the basil and cilantro can included in the ferment, or add a bit of each to the kraut fresh when serving (fermented basil and cilantro can become more pungent)
1.) Remove exterior leaves of cabbage and rinse cabbage.
2.) Cut cabbage in half and remove the core with a V-shaped cut (that is my practice, but you may opt to retain the core by shredding, matchstick cutting, or using in another dish like soup).
3.) Quarter the cabbage, cut the quarters in half and slice into strips; place in bowl.
4.) Add the salt (and optional sugar) to the bowl, mix thoroughly, and allow to stand for several hours. This will allow the brine to release naturally. Alternately, you may massage the cabbage for ten minutes, which will speed up the release of brine.
5.) Once ample brine has formed, add all the remaining ingredients. To prepare the pho spice, use a spice grinder until it is a fine powder. Then fill 1 TBSP with the spice and add to the bowl. Mix everything thoroughly.
6.) Transfer the mix and all the brine to the quart jar. Suggested: use a canning funnel. Press the cabbage down until it is submerged below the surface of the brine. If needed or desired, add a fermentation weight to ensure everything is submerged. Cap with an airlock and keep at room temperature.
Ferment length: I recommend fermenting sauerkraut for at least a month. When you’re ready to begin eating it, replace the lid with a regular lid and keep refrigerated.