I love cabbage kimchi but another popular recipe is Korean radish kimchi, or kkakdugi (깍두기). I know a few people who prefer these spicy, crunchy cubes of radish above all other kimchis. It is usually made with the same pickling marinade as napa cabbage kimchi but I find it a lot easier to make. Admission: so far my vegan napa cabbage kimchi hasn’t turned out as well as I would like. The first time I made it, I didn’t salt the cabbage for long enough (overnight is recommended) and the second time I made it, after a week it tasted a little vinegary. So I consider radish kimchi just a perfect place to start the for the kimchi noobs.
First things first—you must have a few things to hand before you begin:
makes a medium batch of kimchi—enough for 3 or 4 meals
A large bowl
A large strainer
2 tbsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup Gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes)
1 large or 2 small Korean radish (about 2 lbs of radish)
1 tsp fresh ginger
3-4 cloves fresh garlic
1/4 cup soy sauce
2-3 green onion, sliced thinly
1-2 tsp rice flour (or plain flour in a pinch)
1/4 cup water
**Disclaimer! You may need to make this recipe a few times to really get it down as there are a few variables, such as 1) how salty or sweet you like your kim chi and 2) how spicy you like it. When salting the radish, if you add a lot of salt, it will be salty, no matter how much you rinse the radish. Likewise, you do not want to undersalt it. Go chu gar u red chili powder is the agent of fiery spice so you may not want to add in the entire 1/2 cup (or you may want to add more). Unfortunately, you will have to figure this out for yourself.
1) Begin by peeling the radish and cubing it.
2) Pour over about 1/4 cup of coarse sea salt and mix with your hands. Let sit for about 30 minutes, mixing a few times with your hands. Then rinse and strain several times in cold water to rinse off as much salt as you can. I recommend you even soak in cold water for a few minutes and then rinse several times.
3) To make the chili paste, heat up the water and stir in the rice flour until mixed. Simmer gently on low heat until it starts to thicken slightly and then turn the heat off and let cool. Add in the gochugaru to make a thickish chili paste.
4) Mince the garlic and ginger, then add the green onion (I had to use chives in a pinch), sugar and soy sauce. Add to this the chili paste and combine thoroughly.
5) Mix about 3/4 of the paste into the radish in a large bowl with your hands. You may want to wear plastic gloves just in case. If you do use a spoon, make sure to mix together well. Taste and add the rest of the chili paste if you think it needs to be more spicy.
6) Put into an airtight container in the fridge. It may taste a little salty at first but as it pickles and more juices come out from the radish, it will become less salty. I thought it tasted perfect after a week.