It was quite by accident. Just when I thought I’d exhausted my repertoire of things to do with garlic scapes, I discovered Korean pickling. I had a large Chinese cabbage from our CSA and set out to ferment it into kimchi with the idea of adding garlic scapes instead of (or in addition to) scallions. There, at the blog named Kimchi Mom, was a recipe for spicy pickled garlic scapes that was receiving rave reviews.
The scapes are fermented (and pickled) using a pour-over-brine method for a few days until they soften and start to turn yellow, and are then dressed in a combination of Korean red pepper paste (kochujang), red pepper flakes, fish sauce, white vinegar, brown sugar and minced fresh garlic.
This is an addictive condiment that probably would store well in the refrigerator except for being devoured on the spot. I have another batch underway already!
The kochujang that I can get at our local Asian food market is hot red pepper paste, and since I didn’t want to burn our mouths, I diminished the proportion in the mix. I noticed that Kimchi Mom has a way of making her own fermented paste from red pepper flakes, so that will be on my future list to try. I am astonished that Korean red pepper is sold in such extraordinary volume. The smallest package is 500 grams (a little over a pound) but you can get it in 2- and 5-pound bags. Since that could be a lifetime supply, the fact that it loses potency when the package is opens means it’s time to experiment.
Fermented Garlic Scapes, Korean Style adapted from Kimchi Mom blog
1 lb garlic scapes
3 c water
2 tbsp sea salt
2 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
2 tbsp hot Korean red pepper paste (Kochujang)
2 tsp Korean red pepper flakes (sometimes called “powder” but it should be flaky)
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tbsp brown sugar
Wash and trim the garlic scapes and cut them into approximately 2-inch lengths, placing them into a glass or ceramic bowl. Bring water and salt to a boil and pour over the scapes. Place a saucer or other object in the bowl so that the scapes are submerged. Set the bowl aside out of sunlight and away from heat, and let the scapes ferment for 4-5 days or longer, until they are softened and somewhat yellowed. Drain and discard the liquid. Taste the scapes for salt, and rinse them if they seem too salty.
Combine the remaining ingredients into a spicy sauce and stir it into the drained scapes. Pack into a jar and refrigerate.