This radish kimchi, made with gorgeous purple daikon radishes and vivid red Korean chile powder, is easy to make and a delicious fermented vegetable recipe that's packed with vibrant flavor. It's delicious served with grilled or roasted meats, or spooned into a bowl of hot soup.
What is it?
Traditionally made in the fall when the white-fleshed, green-topped Korean radish comes into season, radish kimchi (kkakadugi) is a delicious fermented vegetable dish spiked with green onions, ginger, garlic, and chile powder. The name (kkakadugi) refers to the motion of cubing vegetables, and the dish is traditionally prepared by cubing radish, seasoning it, and then allowing it to ferment a few days.
Like kimchi made with cabbage, it also contains a wide variety of flavorings such as ginger, green onions, garlic, and Korean chile powder. Radish kimchi has a crunchy texture and delicate sweet note underscored by sourness and the heat of gochugaru (Korean chile powder). As with most fermented vegetables, it's an abundant source of beneficial bacteria.
What's in it?
Radish kimchi typically contains ingredients similar to kimchi made with cabbage. In addition to radish, most recipes use green onions, garlic, ginger and a good dose of gochugaru (Korean chile powder) which gives the kimchi a rich heat that borders on smoky. In addition, you'll often find fish sauce or salted shrimp added to recipes. These ingredients give kimchi a rich, elusive savory quality.
- Radish. Traditional recipes typically use the stout, white-fleshed Korean radish which has a crisp texture and flavor similar to Daikon. I typically make my version with purple Daikon radish. Any radish will work in this recipe.
- Green onions and garlic give the dish a bright note that brings balance to the robust flavor of fermented foods.
- Ginger brings a fieriness that brightens the mellow flavor of radish and complements the heat of chile powder.
- Gochugaru is a Korean chile powder with a sweet-smoky flavor and a light, mellow heat that builds with time.
- Fish sauce gives the kimchi a pleasant, umami punch.
- Salt gives the kimchi flavor and keeps the vegetables crisp while also creating an environment that favors the proliferation of beneficial bacteria.
Fermented vegetables are some of the simplest foods you can make. While it can feel intimidating to make sauerkraut or real sour pickles, it's much easier than you think. Provided you use good-quality, fresh ingredients and keep your kitchen and equipment clean, you'll be able to ferment vegetables safely at home.
- Use the freshest ingredients you can find. Your radishes should be plump and firm. Green onions should be bright and crisp. Fermentation magnifies the quality of your ingredients.
- Keep your vegetables submerged in brine, because it helps prevent the formation of mold and other microbes that can contaminate your ferments. One of the best ways to do this is to use a glass weight in your jar. Alternatively, you can wedge a cabbage leaf over your vegetables as they ferment, keeping everything under the brine.
- Add additional brine to keep your vegetables submerged, if you need to. Radish kimchi is self-brining, meaning that the vegetables mix with salt and release their own liquid which keeps them secure and safely fermenting below the brine. If, however, you do not have enough brine to cover them completely, top off the jar with a 2% brine made with salt and water.
- Seal the jar to prevent contamination by mold. When your fermenting foods are exposed to air, it increases the likelihood of mold formation. So seal the jar tight (we love these fermentation seals). If you are not using a fermentation seal, burp your jar every day to release the carbon dioxide that develops during fermentation.
- Place you jar of kimchi into a bowl or on a plate while it ferments to prevent any leaks on your countertop.
Daikon Radish Kimchi Recipe
- Combine all ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Stir gently until the gochugaru and salt evenly coats the vegetables. Cover the bowl, and allow them to marinate in the salt until the daikon releases its juice, about 2 hours.
- Pack the contents of the bowl tightly into a quart-sized mason jar, pressing firmly down as you go to allow air bubbles to escape and to fully fill the jar, and so that the brine covers the vegetables. Weigh down the vegetables with a glass weight, and then seal the jar with an airlock or fermentation seal. Allow the daikon to ferment for 3 days, and then transfer to the refrigerator.
Cube your radish instead of slicing it thinly. In traditional recipes, radish is cubed rather than sliced thin for kimchi.
Use Korean radish (mu) rather than daikon radish. The Korean radish is firm, stout, and white touched with light green at its top.
Omit the fish sauce for a vegan version.
Add diced apple or Asian pear to the radish as it gives the kimchi a pleasant flavor and may speed up the fermentation process owing to its high sugar content.
Korean white radish is traditionally used for kimchi, and you can find it in some natural foods markets in the fall as well as in some grocery stores that specialize in Korean ingredients. This recipe calls for Daikon radish which makes a nice substitute.
Radish kimchi keeps about 3 months in the fridge.
Korean-style fermented vegetables, such as radish kimchi, are typically fermented only a few days before being transferred to cold storage.
During fermentation, beneficial bacteria metabolize carbohydrates and release carbon dioxide which builds up in your fermentation vessel, causing the kimchi to become bubbly. If you prefer a non-fizzy kimchi, use a fermentation seal which allows the carbon dioxide to escape rather than building in the jar.
Store radish kimchi in a glass jar in the fridge for up to 3 months.
You can use it as a condiment or side dish. It's also delicious added to soups, wraps, or as an accompaniment to grilled and roasted meats?