Curtido: Kimchi’s Central American Cousin
Like coleslaw? Let’s take it up a notch and ferment it. Better yet, add some heat, and you have Curtido, Kimchi’s Central American cousin. Try this recipe and you will want it again and again.
Posted by Ashley
Curtido is a fermented cabbage, carrot, onion and hot pepper dish that serves as a relish, condiment or full on side dish in traditional food from El Salvador. The end result after fermentation is very similar to Kimchi in Asian cuisine, but with a sweet tang. While it’s almost always on the table in traditional cultures, in the US curtido is most commonly served with papusas, which take raw corn tortilla batter (masa flour & water) and stuff it with meat, cheese or beans. Imagine turning a taco into a tasty hand pie and you’ve got the idea.
While you can make a quick approximation of curtido by dressing the vegetables with salt and vinegar, it’s more of a Central American coleslaw at that point. For the full traditional flavor, you’ll need to ferment it. Fermentation times vary, but lacto-fermented curtido can be made in as few as three days for a lighter version, or as much as 12 weeks to get the full kick.
Prep Time: 10-20 minutes
Fermentation time: 3 days to 12 Weeks
Yield: 4-6 Cups
• 8 cups Cabbage, Finely Sliced
• 1 Onion, Finely Sliced
• 2-3 Carrots, Grated or very finely sliced into strips
• Choice of Hot Peppers to Taste:
• 1 T Hot Pepper Flakes OR
• 2-5 Cayenne Peppers OR
• 1-3 Jalapenos
• 1 Lime, Juiced
• 2 T Salt
• 1-2 T Oregano (Preferably Fresh)
• 1 T Cumin Seeds (optional)
• Fermentools Fermentation Kit
- Finely slice all vegetables into short ribbons.
- Toss with salt, lime juice, cumin seeds and oregano until thoroughly mixed.
- Press into a half gallon Mason jar or crock. Keep pressing periodically for the first few hours until enough liquid has been released to completely cover the veggies. Add a 2-3% salt solution to fill the jar if necessary.
- Once covered, place a glass weight into the neck of the jar to hold the veggies under the liquid level.
- Attach your Fermentools airlock fermentation lid and ferment for 3 days to 12 weeks in a cool dark place.
- As it ferments, keep tasting your batch every few days or once a week. Once it reaches your desired level of tang, place it in the refrigerator to slow fermentation.
Note: Unless you know you like a lot of spice, start with less peppers in your fist batch. After three days, test your curtido and add more if desired. Some recipes include 1/2 cup of whey to aid the fermentation, but this is not strictly necessary because you’re starting with raw vegetables.
Ashley is an off grid homesteader in central Vermont. She is passionate about fermentation, charcuterie and foraging. Read more about her adventures at VermontMangoPlantation.com.