Bún chả is a traditional Vietnamese dish of grilled fatty pork served over rice noodles, usually served with herbs, vegetables, and a dipping sauce. These now internationally popular bowls are easy to throw together on a busy weeknight and can accommodate most produce that is still available (we have cucumbers, garlic, green onions, onions, carrots, and spinach available in northeastern Michigan right now, with the help of a hoophouse). This dish has a lot of room for your own personal local interpretation and I just love the mixture of hot, caramelized meats and garlicky sauteed spinach; the cold, sweet and salty pickled vegetables; the fresh, fragrant herbs straight from the garden; the spicy, pungent kim chi; the smooth Vermicelli noodles drizzled in toasted sesame oil. This dish is pure love.
This time of year, as fresh greens dwindle to paltry proportions, and our northern Michigan season extension expiration looms, I start looking to my fall self to see what fabulous items I put aside via freezing or fermenting for the impending arctic stretch.
Kimchi is traditionally a salted, fermented cabbage used as a condiment in many Korean dishes. What occurs in kimchi is known as lactofermentation. Through an anaerobic process (meaning without oxygen), our friendly neighborhood bacteria, lactobacillus, (named such because it was originally found in milk cultures), flourishes.