With the success of my first attempt at making Mom's kimchi, I decided to try for one of my favorites - a classic Kkakdugi 깍두기 or cubed Korean Radish Kimchi. I had previously looked around online and found a recipe and tried it straight up from the recipe - unfortunately I didn't save the link so I'm not exactly sure who was the source.
A few things to note - you can use this same recipe for any number of types of radish or daikon, even turnips. Also, you can eat this pretty much right away but in my opinion it tastes much better after fermentation (but then again, doesn't everything?). If you decide to use Korean radishes - look for those that are still a bit green at the top but white at the bottom - those that are too green won't be very sweet and those that are all white have been picked late so much of the starch has converted - also they should be firm and not have any indication of softness, rot or blemish. The rest of the ingredients are pretty basic - I used the remaining gochugaru (red pepper flakes) I had purchased to make napa cabbage kimchi - it was getting old so it's getting pretty dark - you want to find it bright red. Finally, when I make this again I won't use the same fish sauce or use less - this was Korean style and super pungent as it continues to ferment as it sits in the bottle. The initial hit from the jar is overpowering, of course as you eat it you don't notice it much.
- Peel 4 pounds of Korean radish (or daikon).
- Rinse in cold water and pat dry.
- Cut it into ¾ to 1 inch cubes. Put into a large bowl.
- Add 2 tbs salt, 2 tbs sugar, and mix well.
- *tip: If you like your kkakdugi sweeter, add 1 or more extra tbs of sugar.
- Set aside for 30 minutes.
- Drain the juice from the radish into a small bowl.
- Add 2 tbs minced garlic (about 5-6 cloves garlic), 1 ts minced ginger, 4 stalks of chopped green onions, ¼ cup fish sauce, 2/3 cup hot pepper flakes, and ⅓ cup of the juice from the radish.
- *tip: The amount of hot pepper flakes you use depends on your taste; use ¼ cup hot pepper flakes for a mild version. For a vegetarian version, replace fish sauce with soy sauce.
- Mix it up well until the seasonings coat the radish cubes evenly, and the radish looks juicy.
- Put the kkakdugi into a glass jar and press down on the top of it to remove any air from between the radish cubes.
- You can eat it right away, and then store it in the refrigerator. Or you can let it ferment by keeping it outside of the refrigerator for a few days. When it starts fermenting, little bubbles may appear on top of the kkakdugi and it’ll smell strong & sour. Then put it in the refrigerator.
You can peel the Korean radish using the edge of a knife perpendicular to the surface - sort of scrape off the rough edges - this is a traditional method, or you can use a peeler.
I used left-over turbanado sugar from making cabbage kimchi previously. It worked fine.
Notice the gloves - I use nitrile gloves that I pick up at Harbor Freight when they're on sale - it'll save your hands from stinking like the food and also you from accidentally rubbing an eye.
After you mix everything up you can eat right away but I prefer letting it ferment - the pungency works great with steamed rice and a bit of BBQ meat. I like mine hot but you way want to tone things down a bit - as you can tell two radishes make about half a gallon - I think this could have been stretched easily to 3 radishes.
I originally made this back in August and have about half of it left - I don't think my wife likes the fishy smell so she's not eating it - just an FYI. I hope to finish it up and try a new batch of napa cabbage kimchi for the start of 2019.
Cheers and Happy Holidays!