Hakusaizuke – Napa Cabbage Pickle
One whole Napa Cabbage
Kosher salt (about 2.5% of cabbage in weight)
6 to 8 whole red chili peppers
a 5-inch square piece konbu seaweed (optional)
a yuzu, lemon, or orange (optional)
Things you will need:
a bucket or pasta pot that holds 2 to 3 gallons a plate a little smaller than the pot in diameter a weight about twice as heavy as the cabbage (i.e. a big stone, a water-filled glass jar, etc.) a scale (or you could guess on the amount of salt) glass jars to let the pickle mature
1. Weigh the whole cabbage. Weigh the salt = 2.5% of the cabbage.
2. Peel off and save the outer greenish leaves of the cabbage. Stand the cabbage with the bottom side up. Run a knife through the center about one quarter of the way down and then tear the halves apart. This is to save the smaller inner leaves from being cut and lost. Repeat until you get 8 wedges.
3. Rinse the leaves and wedges. Drain in a colander.
4. Start pickling. Sprinkle a small amount of salt into the bottom of the pickling container. Take a wedge of the cabbage and sprinkle it with salt. Try to let the salt go between the leaves. Lay in the pasta pot, cut side up.
5. Repeat with all the wedges, making neat layers.
6. Layer the outer leaves, that you had set aside, so they cover the surface, sprinkle salt and layer more leaves. Push down using your hands and your whole body weight.
7. Place the plate on top of the cabbage then put the weight on the plate. Leave in a cold place (doesn't have to be refrigerated) till the cabbage releases its liquid and it comes up above the cabbage. This takes a day or two.
8. When the cabbage is ready, cut the konbu into 4 long strips using scissors. Slice the yuzu thinly or if using lemon or orange, use the peel. Have the whole chili and dried persimmon ready.
9. Take the weight off the pickle. Take out the outer leaves and set aside. Transfer the cabbage wedges into the glass jars, packing tightly, inserting the chili, konbu, dried persimmon rind/slices, and yuzu slices/citrus rind here and there.
10. Cover the top with some of the outer leaves. Pour in the pickling liquid. Make sure there are no air pockets.
11. Fill the jars with the pickling liquid up to the top and screw the lid tight. You may have some liquid overflow, but that's good.
12. Keep refrigerated to mature for 2 to 8 weeks.