Kimchi is the national dish of Korea and is essentially a way of preserving vegetables by salting them and storing them in airtight containers or the beautiful earthenware Onggi. While the word “kimchi” on its own will likely be referring to the classic kimchi made with Chinese cabbage, there are actually so many different kinds. This radish kimchi is also really popular and, coincidentally, I had just enough radish to make it after I used some for my Classic Kimchi. Korean radish is traditionally used but they are really hard to come by so I used a daikon radish. They’re hard to come by too but a little more common. This radish kimchi is a lot easier than the classic Chinese cabbage version as it only needs to sit coated in a little salt and sugar for an hour, instead of the 4 hours for the cabbage. In which time, you can just chop up the vegetables for the paste and add them to your fish sauce and gochugaru mixture. Gochugaru is Korean chilli flakes and is essential here, I’m afraid, and difficult to come by. It’s readily available online though so try there. The first time I made kimchi, I made the mistake of assuming that chilli powder was chilli powder so I used Indian chilli powder. The result was not the vivid red colour it should be, it was far too spicy and packed little other flavour than the heat. As soon as my gochugaru arrived in the mail and I opened it up, the smell hit me and I knew how wrong I was to use the Indian stuff. It had an incredible savoury, sweet smell even though the only ingredient was Korean chillies.
- 1Kg daikon radish, peeled and cut into 2cm dice
- 2 tbsp sea salt flakes
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 5 cloves of garlic, minced
- 50g peeled ginger, minced
- 4 spring onions, finely sliced
- 1 carrot, peeled and sliced into julienne matchsticks
- 50ml fish sauce
- 40g gochugaru (Korean hot chilli flakes)
- Add the radish cubes to a large mixing bowl and sprinkle over the salt and sugar. Mix well and allow to sit for about an hour, stirring it up every 15 minutes.
- Mix the fish sauce and gochugaru together to form a paste.
- Once the radishes have rested for an hour, pour off the sugary, salty water that has rendered from the radishes. Add 100ml of it to the chilli paste and discard the rest.
- Mix in the radish water to the chilli paste.
- Add the garlic, ginger, spring onions and carrot to the radishes and stir to disperse.
- Pour over the chilli sauce and stir well to coat all the vegetables.
- Transfer to a large air-tight container and push it down with the back of a wooden spoon to force the trapped air pockets to the surface.
- Wipe the rim, close it and set it aside on the worktop to ferment for a few days.
- A few days later, open it up and push it back into its own juices with the back of a wooden spoon. Close it and transfer it to the fridge for a week or up to a few years.