Kimchi has become something of an international sensation in the last few years. And with people all over the world “discovering” it, and adding their own touches, I’ve seen everything from Kimchi Toast to (heaven help us) Kimchi Ice Cream. No doubt, I’m sure a Kimchi frappuccino is right around the corner. But at its heart, kimchi still remains what it has always been- fermented spicy vegetables, a Korean staple, and a shining example of Asian funky deliciousness. Radish Kimchi is a fast, flavorful, and exciting condiment.
Let my Radish Kimchi recipe show you how easy it is to make authentic kimchi at home, even if you’ve never tried your hand at pickling or fermenting before. Radish Kimchi is packed with probiotics (which we’re all supposed to be eating more of), quick to prepare, and only gets better with age.
A Twist On A Classic
Traditionally, radish kimchi is pickled either using whole baby sized radishes with their stems or cubed. I prefer shredded radish because I use my radish kimchi in a lot of different ways (coming soon!) such as a topping for ramen, mixed into salads, and as a condiment for rice bowls; therefore, I find the shreds to be more versatile. Plus, the thin shreds means that the fermenting process happens more quickly, and who wouldn’t want to eat it as soon as possible?
Let’s Get Fermenting!
Korean Red Pepper Flakes
While you can make a kimchi with just about any vegetable (or fruit) you can think of, there is one ingredient that is indispensable. Gochugaru, or Korean red pepper flakes, really have no substitute. Gochugaru is ground to a light coarse consistency and gives kimchi its characteristic bright red hue. It can range from mild (which still has heat) to hot. I use hot at home, because we all love spicy foods. But if you are worried about the heat level, and it will get spicier as it ferments, choose a mild one. I suggest getting milder chili flakes rather than using less because you will lose the bright red color characteristic of kimchi if you cut down on the quantity of the chili pepper.
When purchasing gochugaru, choose one that has a bright red color (not a dull reddish brown) at a store where you know there’s a lot of turnover on the product. You want the freshest bag you can find. Furthermore, it is important that you purchase the flakes and not the finely milled powder, which looks like cayenne, and is used in making Gochujang, the hot pepper paste.
Sometimes, the translation on the package may be inaccurate so take a peek through the window on the package and confirm that you see chili flakes. Although purchasing at a Korean grocery store is best and least expensive, if you have none in your area, Tae-kyung is a brand widely available online.
Korean radish is a large, mild white radish used in all kinds of dishes including soups and side dishes. It is shorter and rounder than daikon, but either can be used for this radish kimchi. I start by peeling it, cutting it into 2 inch pieces, and then making thin slices. Then stack the slices and cut into matchsticks.
Alternatively, you could also use a mandoline for this if you prefer. The inexpensive Asian mandolines make quick work of julienning vegetables and that’s what we use to shred pounds of veggies when we make kimchi at the restaurant.
Once you have your lovely radish matchsticks, put them in a bowl, add the salt and sugar, and toss to combine. It will sit for 30 minutes, creating a brining liquid. Give it a stir now and again.
Some Like It Hot (and Funky)
Meanwhile, you will make the kimchi base. Garlic, ginger, fish sauce, scallions and gochugaru- all strong and assertive flavors on their own, but put them together and funky magic happens. First mix them all together in a large bowl. Then, you will scoop the radish out of its brine, and add the radish to the kimchi base. Finally, measure out 2/3rds cup of the brining liquid, and add it to the bowl.
The best way to mix it all up is with your hands, but you definitely want to use gloves: not only to prevent the painful tragedy of accidentally rubbing your eyes with a chili flecked finger, but also because the Korean pepper flakes will dye your hands a bright red. Mix it for several minutes, making sure to get all the veggies at the bottom of the bowl coated with the spice mixture.
Pack It Up!
Once your radish kimchi is thoroughly mixed, it’s ready to be ladled into clean jars. I use glass jars, because plastic ones will absorb the red color and it will never wash out. Frankly, you don’t need any special kind of fermenting jar; any glass jar with a lid will work. Fill the jar with the kimchi, leaving an inch at the top. It will expand as it ferments, so don’t let your (kimchi) cups runneth over. Really pack the kimchi down into the jar, so there are no air pockets that could lead to spoilage. Then use a paper towel to clean the headspace you left, and put on the lid.
Repeat with the remaining kimchi, and you’re done! You can enjoy it right away, as a fresh and flavorful salad. Or you can let it sit in the fridge where it will start to take on the characteristic funky and sour notes of fermented kimchi. Serve it alongside other vegetables dishes like my Korean Style Bean Sprouts and Funky Spicy Green Beans for a fun take on Meatless Monday. Or top a bowl of rice with Perfect Fried Eggs and some kimchi for a quick meal.
You are going to love Radish Kimchi, and I hope it opens up new doors of delicious fermented foods for you to enjoy! If you make it, we want to know. Leave a comment, or tag us in your pics @funkyasiankitchen, show us the goods!
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- 2 pounds korean radish (daikon is fine too)
- 1 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 ½ tablespoon sugar
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 2 scallions chopped
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce (substitute with soy sauce for vegans)
- ⅓ cup Korean hot pepper flakes
Prep the Radish:
- Peel the radish and slice thin, stack and cut the slices into a julienne. You can also use a mandoline and shred the radish.
- Put the radish into a bowl and add the kosher salt and sugar. Toss to combine. Set aside and let sit for 30 mins, tossing once or twice more.
Mix the Seasonings:
- In a separate large bowl, add the garlic, ginger, scallions, fish sauce, and Korean chile flakes. Mix well. When the radish has finished brining, scoop it out using your clean hands or a slotted spoon, and add it to the bowl of seasonings.
- Then measure out 2/3 cup of the radish juice. Put on a pair of disposable gloves and mix the radish with the seasonings and the juice, making sure to get to the bottom of the bowl.
Filling Kimchee Jars:
- Use a glass container (plastic will absorb the smell and color and you will never get it out) and scoop the radish kimchi into the container, making sure to push down on the kimchi to eliminate air pockets.
- Fill up your container, leaving a good inch at the top for the fermenting liquid to expand. Wipe down the bottle and add the lid. You can continue filling up another container in the same way if you are using smaller containers.
- You can eat it as is and it will taste more like a salad or you can put it into the fridge and start a slow fermentation where the kimchi will start to sour and ferment over the next week. Or you can do what I do, which is to leave the containers out on your kitchen counter overnight to kick start the fermentation. The kimchi will be a little bubbly at the top from the fermenting gases the next day. Then put the containers into the refrigerator. *
This kimchi will be good for at least 2 weeks in the fridge and will continue to get more sour as the fermentation continues. Make sure you use a clean fork or spoon to scoop out the kimchi. Do not use your hands as you may introduce bacteria into the container. Once you’ve taken your portion, push down on the kimchi to keep the contents submerged in liquid
Keywords: kimchi, radish, condiment