I went on a journey to find fermented foods in Amsterdam. The result? I met some wonderful people who make very flavourful and colourful creations and they kindly shared their products, recipes and knowledge with me. I even came across a kimchi hotel! It appears the world of fermented foods is plentiful and very interesting. There are endless possibilities to experiment with ingredients and flavours. Fermented foods can be extremely healthy too, as they contain good bacteria that can contribute to better gut health and a stronger immune system. You can find the stories of my favourite people and places in Amsterdam that are specialised in fermented foods below. If you are not in the Amsterdam area, here is a kimchi recipe you can try at home by Iines Råmark, a former cook of Instock.
I first met Jeroen and Art back in november at Haarlemmerplein market. “We have always been ‘foodies’, travelling and searching out the open markets in new cities and trying out new restaurants around the world; returning home to experiment with fresh ingredients and remaking the many unique dishes we sampled. Our interest in fermentation began in 2015 with developing cider.” They are at Haarlemmerplein market on Wednesdays and on Lindengracht market on Saturdays, with their (vegan) kimchi, water kefir, pickled ferments, hot sauce, black garlic, black lime and seasonal products. All these wonderful products are literally home-made. Their kimchi’s taste amazing! I tried the kimchi white, red, gold and purple. The white kimchi is one of their seasonal products. The combination of flavours from the slightly sour cabbage, the sweetness of the apple and raisins combined with savoury taste of cumin is just yummy! The red kimchi is spicy with hints of ginger and the sesame seeds in the gold kimchi are such a tasty add. Their kefir water is amazing too! They use organic and locally farmed produce avoiding additives and preservatives. Feel free to pay them a visit at the market if you live in Amsterdam.
Moritz speaks very passionately about the fermented products he and his team create and the research that they do. “I wrote my thesis on the topic raw, fermented food market awareness in the Netherlands and the relation to 21century disease. The thesis was a starting point and within the gut-mind journal we expand this research. We have 2-4 students per year working on their thesis and internship project about raw, fermented vegetables, the gut microbiome, and the field of microbiology and good gut bacteria for humans. This year we are starting to collaborate with the VU Amsterdam as well as a project called InBiome to conduct a broader research.” Research on this field is still very young, therefor no health claims can be made and that is also not their mission. Instead, they want to create more diversity from within, through fermented food full of gut-friendly bacteria, as well as all around us, by choosing regenerative farming methods and composting in order to give back to mother nature instead of just taking. They make delicious kraut (including a kimchi flavoured one), kombucha and tempeh. Since their kraut kimchi is based on white cabbage instead of Chinese cabbage, it has a firm bite to it and I like the combination of ginger and red pepper seeds. Order from their fermentation kitchen at their online store and come to collect at Houthavens in Amsterdam. Believe me, the trip is worth it! They even offer subscriptions, since they are convinced that eating fermented foods is not a one-time-thing, but rather something to integrate into your diet. They also organise workshops that are both informational and hands-on, so you can make your own kraut!
House of Fermentation
Did you know actual Korean kimchi can be kept for over 20 years? If you are looking for the real traditional Korean kimchi, this is the place to be! Mina makes amazing kimchi according an authentic and traditional recipe from Jinju, her hometown in the south of South Korea. She is such an expert when it comes to the art of fermenting food. For example, she explained to me why certain ingredients can not be used in the fermentation proces, such as mango. If you want someone to teach you how to make kimchi, it should be her. She makes kimchi toasties and kimchi pancakes and her newest creation is pink kimchi, fermented with pomme grenade and black current. Her products are vegan since she replaces fish sauce, that makes the seafood flavour, with sea plants. She thinks instead of removing ingredients to make dishes vegan, it is better to replace ingredients so they do not lose their favour or nutrients. I can not argue with that. She does not use any artificial additives or refined sugars and the only spices she uses are sundried red pepper powder and soy sauce. She makes an effort to work in a sustainable way, so no plastic is used and the goal is to have no waste. She is currently creating a kimchi hotel (comparable to a wine cellar) in her backyard with traditional Korean clay pots. This will be a place where you can check-in your kimchi (!) and leave it for let’s say three months and then you can check-out your kimchi and take it home.
At Thulls, they offer A LOT of different fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, red cabbage, kimchi, water kefir and kombucha. They also make pickled vegetables preserved in vinegar, without any additives, such as artificial colours. They create condiments, such as rose-harissa or preserved organic lemon. They have sourdough bread, cider and you can even get kook books and your own ferment pot for DIY fermented foods.
At Mediamatic they do fermentation and other food-related experiments. They only work with seasonal ingredients and since seasonal means a limited amount of time to preserve the harvest, they are fascinated by different techniques that prolong the use of certain produce, such as fermenting, drying and pickeling. These foods will then be offered in their ever-changing menus. They offer workshops for making kombucha, water kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi.
Sisters Roena and Layla Kouchi grew up eating fermented vegetables and healthy food made by their mom, who is from Ukraine. Their mom uses family recipes to prepare the fermented foods. One day, she started making more fermented foods, handing them to family and friends and she asked her daughters to share it with more people, also because she is really passionate about food waste. For as long as they can remember, empty supermarket jars would not be thrown out but used to store their food, such as nuts, oats and leftovers. Their focus is on living in a sustainable and healthy manner. With their heritage, they love contributing to introducing fermented foods in The Netherlands. Fermented foods can be used as main ingredient, snack or flavour enhancer, but they just eat it straight from the jar, as I funnily find myself doing as well. Their favourite is Bloody Tomatoes, which are of course fermented tomatoes. I myself tried their Kouchi Kouchi Kimchi and their Savage Cabbage and they are both very tasty!
Even more information
If, after all of that, you are looking for more information, check out some tips we got from Ferment Fabriek: NOMA’s Rene Redzepi & David ZIlber. Their Guidance on Fermentation has been key to their advancing techniques. Chef Yotam Ottolenghi’s interesting pairings and extensive interesing veg based recipes. Gaz Oakly, chef, author and lots of good YouTube videos with great vegan recipes. Restaurant Avant Garden New York (also inspired their company name). Seasoned Vegan, Harlem NY. Ryoya Takashima / Peaceful Cuisine and his beautiful videos, recipes and inspiring philosphy. Here are some of the kombucha breweries in Amsterdam: Cultcha, Leave Your Sword, Yaya. For more workshops and recipes check out Kefir Amsterdam. Also interesting to check out: https://www.micropia.nl/en/. If you are looking for starters for fermented foods: Vokomokum Bubble Club produces them for you. And if you want to give making kimchi a try yourself, use Iines’ recipe.