Pak Dong is a thai pickled cabbage loaded with beneficial bacteria also known as probiotics. This ferment is packed with carrots, garlic, thai peppers, black sesame seeds, mustard seeds and of course cabbage!
After fermented, these veggies turn out sweet and spicy with a little bit of tang, it’s perfect!
This recipe is so easy and so good for you that I can’t help but to make it over and over again, a gallon at a time, lasting about 1-2 months and I still share with all my friends.
I mainly use pak dong on rice, salads, tuna fish sandwiches and just plain by itself. Sticking with our Spring Detox theme, I challenge you to experiment making a probiotic rich ferment!
I first found pak dong about a year ago when I went to the farmers market with my family in Saratoga Springs, NY. A local company called Pucker’s Gourmet had opened my eyes to a new world of pickled cabbage, which I wasn’t particularly fond of at the time.
I was interested in recreating this delicious pak dong recipe in larger batches mainly because they give you the tiniest jars for $10 and every week I found myself buying 1 sometimes 2, I knew I needed to make a huge batch for the whole family. It was a challenge figuring out the perfect proportions and fermenting times but I think I have found the perfect method to the most delicious pak dong.
I will say that I can’t beat Pucker’s exquisite Pak Dong, they use authentic Kentucky oak whiskey barrels to cure their pak dong. If you are ever in upstate New York I highly recommend trying it! In the process of fermentation, lactobacilli will feed off of sugars and metabolize into lactic acid, which gives you that well-known sourness. Lactobacilli is also known as a probiotic or good bacteria.
The salt in this recipe will keep the veggies crunchy and will also keep the “enemies” away while lactic acid multiplies and creates a much too acidic environment for the “enemies” to survive. With that said the longer you let your pak dong ferment, the more lactic acid, the more sour the batch will be.
The more salt you add, the crunchier your batch will stay; but too much salt, and the lactobacilli won’t be able to survive.
Pak Dong | Thai Pickled Cabbage
- 1 medium head cabbage
- 2 tbsp salt
- 2 large carrots
- 4-6 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup mustard seeds
- 1/4 cup thai peppers
- 1/4 cup black sesame seeds
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 1/2 cup unrefined sugar
- Peel off an outside cabbage leaf to use for pressing the veggies down later.
- Quarter the cabbage, slice them into thin ribbons and then slice in half again.
- Shred the carrots with the grating tool on a food processor or with a handheld grater.
- Dice the garlic and thai peppers.
- Put the cabbage and salt in a large bowl and start to crunch the cabbage with your hands. The cabbage will start releasing it's juices and will get a bit softer. I like to top off the jar with extra water if needed.
- Add in the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
- Tightly pack the veggies into a half gallon mason jar.
- Add the piece of cabbage leaf you saved from earlier, push down everything below the juices.
- Top off with extra water if needed.
- Put a lid on top, you may need to "burp" it from time to time.
- Leave your jars in a slightly warm area, around 65-75 degrees, let nature do it's thing.
- Check up on it, you should see air bubbles coming to the surface. That's a good thing! You should not see mold, green, white, blue, brown or really any color that isn't normal. If it looks or smells off toss it and try again.
- You can taste it after the 3rd day to see at what stage of fermentation your tastebuds prefer.
- The yeasty flavor will subside only after being kept in the refrigerator.
- After you hit the right amount of sourness desired, put your jars in the refrigerator. Normally I wait about 3 days but you can eat it at anytime. It's fun tasting the vast differences from start to finish to refrigerator.
Although fermentation is simple, once you get the hang of it, there is a lot to learn in the science world of fermentation; way more than I could possibly write in this recipe post. The biggest challenge in any ferment is keeping everything below the brine. The sauerkraut survivor guide was a wonderful experiment that tested every fermentation method. Although pak dong is a completely different recipe, the fermenting process is generally the same with a few exceptions. For every single fermentation technique, I would always recommend starting out with a quart sized mason jar and experimenting with different fermentation methods as described in the guide. Another great Resource is one of my favorite books The Art of Fermentation. This book has a lot of great information if you are interested in the world of fermentation.
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