This recipe is based on kkagdugi, a common traditional kimchi. Kkagdugi is usually made with Korean radishes, which are similar to a daikon, but I’ve enjoyed this type of ferment with a variety of radishes. Large daikon should be quartered (resulting in a semi-cubed look), while round radishes should be cut into half-moon slices.
Korean-style pepper powder and pickled baby shrimp can be found in Asian markets. Look for powders with little or no added ingredients. The brand I buy has some added salt, which I adjust for by tasting when making the recipe. If you can’t find the Korean-style chile powder, use chile flakes. They’re often hotter than the traditional pepper powder, so use much less. Yield: about 1 quart.
- 1 pound globe-type radishes, peeled and cubed, quartered if small, chunky slices if larger
- 1 teaspoon unrefined fine salt
- 1/3 cup Korean red pepper powder, or 1 to 2 tablespoons hot chile flakes, or to taste
- 3 scallions, sliced crosswise in 1/2-inch pieces, green included
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar, preferably unrefined
- 2 teaspoons pickled baby shrimp, optional
- In a large bowl, combine radishes, salt, and pepper powder, and mix until coated. Massage a bit to help the brine begin to form. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Add the remaining ingredients to the radish mixture. If using pickled shrimp, finely mince the shrimp, and add some of the liquid when measuring out the 2 teaspoons of shrimp. Massage the entire mixture. Taste, and add salt if needed. You should be able to taste the salt (as you would on a snack chip), but it shouldn’t be overpowering. A brine should be developing.
- Follow the instructions for putting the kimchi mixture into your favorite fermentation vessel. Alternatively, you can place the mixture inside a quart-sized mason jar, pressing out air pockets as you work. Wipe off the sides of the jar with a clean cloth. Put small weights on top of the ferment if you have them, making sure the mixture is submerged. Screw a lid tightly onto the jar.
- Set the jar or fermentation vessel in a corner of the kitchen to cure. Watch for air pockets forming in the kimchi. If you see them, open the lid and press the kimchi back down. If the lid starts to bubble up, simply open the lid for a moment to “burp” the ferment.
- Allow the kimchi to ferment for 10 to 14 days. The less airspace above a ferment, the longer it’ll store, so fill the jars to the rim, and transfer the ferment to smaller jars as you use it. This ferment will keep for 6 months in the refrigerator.
Variations: Watercress is a traditional addition. Minced fresh radish tops are wonderful in this kimchi, or you can add about 1/4 cup fresh chopped greens, if desired.
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Kirsten K. Shockey is the co-author of Miso, Tempeh, Natto & Other Tasty Ferments. Kirsten and her husband began fermenting foods 20 years ago on their 40-acre smallholding, which grew into an organic food company. Read more at FermentWorks. Kirsten is on the editorial board of MOTHER EARTH NEWS’ new sister publication, Fermentation.