Saturday, January 10, 2015

Kkakdugi - Radish Kimchi

Hey, I'm finally writing up my radish kimchi (kkakdugi) recipe, as foretold.

We're in the daikon season right now, so there's a lot of really great, fresh daikon at the farmers market. Lots of moisture so the flesh is firm and not squishy as you'll find with older radishes. Also, the flavor is light and can be lightly spicy to even sweet! Great stuff. Not like the bitter funk and harsh spiciness old daikon can have...

Now, daikon isn't traditional for kkakdugi--rather, the Korean radish varietal of the species is. But daikon substitutes in perfectly well and is much easier to find.

I referenced Maangchi's and Marc Matsumoto's recipes in developing mine.


3-4 lbs Korean radish (or daikon), peeled, diced into ¾-inch cubes
2 TBS salt
2 TBS brown sugar

  • Combine diced radish, salt, and sugar in a large bowl and toss well. Set aside for at least 30 minutes to an hour.
  • Meanwhile, do the prep work for the seasoning ingredients (see below).
  • Once the radish is done dry-brining, drain the juice from the radish into a small bowl.

5-6 cloves garlic
½-inch piece ginger, peeled
¼ cup fish sauce (substitute with soy sauce for a vegetarian version)
½ Asian pear or sweet apple (e.g. fuji, red delicious, etc.), diced roughly
⅓ cup of the radish juice

  • Combine the ingredients above (not the radish) in a food processor and pulse until a thick sauce is formed.

⅔ cup gochugaru (korean chile powder)
4 stalks green onion or 2 stalks leek (tough green portions removed), chopped

  • Add the sauce, gochugaru, and green onion into the large bowl with the radish and toss well, making sure the radish is completely coated on all surfaces.
  • Put all the ingredients into a container with a tight fitting lid*, pressing down on the top of the contents to squeeze out air from between the radish cubes. Pour in as much of the remaining radish juice as needed to fill in the gaps and just cover the radish. Leave the container on the counter at room temperature for 1-3 days to give the fermentation a head start before refrigerating to slow down the process and extend shelf life (and avoid mold). If you put it in the refrigerator right away, the culture doesn’t get a chance to grow enough, and fermentation will be extremely slow in the refrigerator. You can enjoy the kkakdugi immediately, as well as over time as the fermentation proceeds.

* You don’t actually want to seal your container air tight (like with a glass jar and screw-on lid), because as the food ferments, gas is released. Carried too far, your container will explode. Alternatively, you can occasionally open the lid to release gas. I use a Systema Klip It container, which has a rubber lining around the edge of the lid. I put the lid on but don’t clamp it down. This way as gas is released, when the pressure is great enough, the gas will simply escape on its own. Additionally, I’ll lay down some plastic wrap on top of the radish and press down, just to limit the air in contact with the radish, again to avoid mold. I don’t plastic wrap to airtightness, though, and leave it open around the edges for the reasons stated above.

What do you do with the savory fermenting sauce that's left behind? You can make kimchi fried rice with it! Or kimchi soups and stews! Or as a savory and punchy flavor base for anything you want.


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