They say Sanmaneul Kimchi, as wild garlic kimchi is called in Korean, is a kimchi of the dark side. Its intensity is unheard of and the taste makes me dream of Korean forests and mountains. This kimchi is a real umami bomb and decently garlicky. If I keep dreaming, I can see myself eating an authentic Sanmaneul Kimchi in Korea amidst the forests and mountains.
The fact that it is such a rare delicacy makes me enjoy every bite that much more. And when a bulb or flower bud is involved, I'm in seventh gourmet heaven. Sanmaneul, by the way, means mountain garlic. It is grown in the mountains in Korea and is available in spring, just like in Germany.
Since I received so many requests, I write down my recipe for wild garlic kimchi step by step. Then you too can make a small jar of this delicacy yourself at home in the spring and enjoy. Wild garlic is available in season in most stores or markets. But of course you can also gather it yourself, if you know a place where it grows and you can safely identify it.
Picking wild garlic
Is it allowed to pick wild garlic at all? The answer is quite straightforward: Yes. At least, if you're located in Germany.
The law in Germany says everybody may take and acquire wild flowers, grasses, ferns, mosses, lichens, fruits, mushrooms, tea and medicinal herbs as well as branches of wild plants from nature in small quantities for personal use in places that are not subject to a ban on entering.
That means you get to harvest a handful for your own use. That is, in Germany. For the US please refer to https://www.forageculture.com/foraging-laws or other legal information.
When collecting wild, please always think about the sustainability and longevity of the site, so that others can also collect wild garlic. It is best to take only 1-2 leaves per plant, and only in a place where there is a sufficiently large population. Do not harvest bulbs. Conservation areas are, of course, excluded from wild plant collection.
Collect only what you recognize beyond doubt
Pay attention to the characteristics of the wild garlic to avoid confusion with poisonous lookalikes. Rubbing the leaves to detect the characteristic garlic scent is not the best idea. After you rub 2-3 plants, the smell remains on your fingers and identification is no longer reliable.
A good description, which can help you with the determination, is provided by https://gallowaywildfoods.com/wild-garlicramsons-edibility-identification-distribution
Sustainably, I prepare wild garlic kimchi mainly from leaves, with only scattered onions and buds. Onions I can include because wild garlic grows in my garden and I can harvest it there.
Wild garlic kimchi
- 1 bail-top jar, 0.5 liter
- 1 bunch wild garlic [100 grams]
- 1 tbsp salt
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 4 tbsp gochugaru [Korean chili flakes]
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 cup water [more or less, to fill]
- Wash wild garlic well. If bulbs were picked along, use only a few. The bulbs are very spicy, so only a few of them are very powerful. Mix in a large bowl with the salt and let it draw water. By the way, you can only pick bulbs if you pick wild garlic privately. When picking wild, the bulbs must remain in place.
- Meanwhile, prepare the kimchi paste. To do this, mince the garlic and crush it with the sugar in a mortar or mixing bowl. Add the gochugaru and fish sauce and continue mixing until a paste is formed. Add the kimchi paste to the wild garlic and mix with your hands until evenly distributed. The gochugaru quickly turns your hands bright red, so kitchen gloves come in handy.
- Place the wild garlic kimchi in the fermentation vessel and cover with the fermentation weight and press down. Add enough water so that the wild garlic kimchi and weight are completely submerged. If you do not want to use a weight, move the jar daily to prevent mold from forming.
- Allow to ferment for 3-7 days at room temperature without direct sunlight. While the wild garlic is fermenting, the volume in the fermentation jar will reduce to one third.
- Store the finished kimchi in a cool place. Wild garlic kimchi can be kept in the refrigerator for 12 months.
Eaten plain, this kimchi is a delicacy, and it's also a convincing ingredient in a folded gimbap or bibimbap.
If you like wild garlic kimchi, you'll probably also like Kkakduki. My recipe for it is quick, easy, and very very delicious.