So this weekend we made another trip north to pick ramps. This time we brought home a grocery bag brimming with these delightful members of the onion family (they're sweet and have a flavor somewhere between leeks and garlic). The reason for this large harvest is that L had the brilliant idea of making ramp kimchi, and I wanted to make a ramp confit.
As a commenter pointed out, if you plan to go foraging, please abide by local laws and forage responsibly. If you strip an area of all the bulbs they will not grown back next year. That's why it's important to just thin out an area, leaving plenty behind for the following years.
Kimchi, for those unfamiliar, is a fiery Korean side-dish that's pickled in a potent mix of chili powder and garlic. The specifics and vegetables vary by region and season, but Korean families take pride in the number of urns of kimchi they prepare per year. Prior to winter, families would gather to pickle the last of fall's vegetables to last them through the cold months until spring.
Confit on the other hand traces its roots to France before refrigeration where meats like duck and goose were cooked in their own fat to preserve them. The word is derived from the verb "confire" which quite literally means "to preserve" and can refer to fruits or vegetables as well as meat.
If you haven't guessed by now, the common thread here is 2 ways to preserve these perishable gems so they last more than a few days. I figured it would be fun to employ methods coming from 2 continents, and the results were fantastic!
While ramps are a vegetable that aren't available in Korea, they work perfectly for kimchi because of their strong (though not overpowering) garlic flavor. The long leaves are well suited for wrapping around a slice of steamed pork, or a bit of rice and the flavors just burst with spicy goodness in your mouth.
The confit on the other hand roasts the ramps in an ample amount of olive oil, rounding out the flavor and intensifying the sweetness. The olive oil it's cooked in is redolent with ramp's leeky garlicy aroma and is marvelous on pizza dough or bread.
- For Ramp Kimchi: Mix all the ingredients except the ramps in a bowl to combine. If you can't find the "Korean anchovy sauce", you can substitute 3 Tbs Thai fish sauce + 1 Tbs soy sauce. If you want to make this vegan, just replace the fish sauce with soy sauce.
- Lay down a layer of ramp leaves then paint a layer of the spice mixture on top. Repeat until your out of ramps
- Cover and refrigerate for about a week to fully pickle. These get better as they begin to ferment, so you can eat them for several weeks. When they start getting tart, this is the perfect time to turn it into Kimchi Jigae (kimchi stew).
- ForRamp Confit:Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Lay the ramps in a baking dish sprinkling a bit of salt and pepper between each layer. Douse the whole thing with an ample amount of olive oil (you don't want it swimming, but you want it to be covered in oil).
- Roast for 15-20 minutes or until the ramps are completely wilted and any liquid that has come out has evaporated.
- Eat on a crusty baguette, on a pizza or in a tart. These are also delicious blended into a vegetable soup (ramp and corn chowder anyone?).