Jangajji (장아찌) is a broad term in Korean cuisine including many different pickles, some fermented and some not. There are newer, Western influenced vinegar pickles that fall under the same category, however much of the more traditional jangajjis involve fermentation in a seasoned soy brine. It is a useful way or preserving gluts quite quickly, as you can often have a running brine teeming with microbes.
There are some simple processes involved to consider, if you were to improvise.
You want to control the moisture level of your vegetable. Any greens, such as asparagus, kales, beet tops etc, would be best prepared by being dried first, then submerged in your brine.
You want to ensure a good texture, and some tougher greens are often blanched before they are dried.
You want to make sure your ingredients are safe being preserved raw, so a lot of mushrooms require a quick blanch.
Whenever you preserve something in your brine, it will inevitably release moisture and other bits for lack of a better word. It is good practice to strain the contents after a week, bring the brine to a boil, skim off any impurities, cool to room temperature and re-pot the veg in the brine.
Aside from that, you can make the brine as flavourful as you like. A lot of Korean temple food relies on simple but deep flavours, and their jangajji liqueur will often consist of a highly aromatic stock.
Garlic Jangajji recipe
900g garlic, peeled and trimmed
750ml white wine or pickling vinegar
375ml soy sauce
1.5 tablespoons salt
Submerge the garlic cloves in vinegar and leave for 7 days in fridge.
Prepare your brine by bringing the soy sauce, stock, sugar and salt to boil. A veg stock with ginger, garlic, peppercorns and dried chilli works well, and you may also add soju or sake at this point.
Add your garlic to the cooled brine and leave at room temperature.
After 3 to 4 days, strain the brine and bring to boil, skimming any impurities. Add the garlic back to the cooled brine and leave for a further 2 to 3 weeks in the fridge, until the garlic is suitably fermented.
Other jangajji ideas
For root vegetables, you can salt and dry thin slices and preserve them in a similar way. This worked well last year with beetroot, which we sliced fairly thick, salted and dried in the sun before brining them to ferment. We then sliced them very thinly and used it as a punchy side dish.
It also works well with garlic stems, which don’t require any salting or drying. You can simply replace the garlic in the previous recipe with the stems, and miss out the vinegar step.