Korean Wife Camp: Kkakdugi – Cubed Radish Kimchi

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kkakdugi cubed radish kimchi recipe

Kkakdugi, or Korean radish kimchi, is a common banchan (side dish) served with meals such as galbijjim (korean braised short ribs), gomtang (oxtail soup), or tonkatsu (fried pork cutlet). But it’s delicious with any meal, any day of the week, in my humble opinion! (And it has a delightfully scatalogical-sounding name, which pleases my inner 12-year old endlessly. Pronunciation: cock-dooki. LOL.)

Being a kimchi, it is a salted, fermented, (aka pickled) vegetable – and the result is a tangy, spicy, crispy, salty and a tiny bit sweet, refreshing bite that’s chock full of health benefits such as probiotics, vitamins and fiber. It’s got the umami factor in spades, and it’s easier than easy (and super affordable) to make!

Impress your friends, family, and your own mouth with a scrumptious batch of homemade Kkakdugi!

kkakdugi steps

What you’ll need:
1 lb Korean Radish (aka Mu) – cut into 1″ cubes (choose a heavy radish with smooth skin. the higher the ratio of white skin to green skin, the sweeter the radish will taste.) NOTE: if you can’t find Mu, you can substitute Daikon, which is widely available. But if you can get proper Mu, it’s a bit sweeter and more nuanced in flavor. 
1 Tbs Kosher Salt
1 Tbs Honey (or sweetener of your choice)
3-4 Cloves Garlic – finely chopped
1 tsp Ginger – finely chopped
1/3 cup Gochugaru powder (korean red chili flakes.) There is no substitution for this, but if you can’t find them in your local asian grocery, you can order them on amazon.
2 Tbs Fish Sauce (I love this brand, because it’s just fish, salt, and water – wayyy less additives than others. If you can’t find (or stand) fish sauce, you can use soup soy sauce, or simply plain soy sauce.)


kkakdugi ingredients breakdown

What you do:
1. Toss the cubed radish with the salt and honey, until well coated. Set aside for 45-60 minutes.
2. In a separate container, mix together the garlic, ginger, gochugaru, and fish sauce.
3. Drain the radish, reserving 1/3 cup of the liquid and add both to the spice mix. Toss well to coat.
4. Pack the radish into a lidded container, trying to eliminate any air pockets. Loosely place lid on top. ***Don’t put it on tightly, or the container could explode!
5. Leave the kimchi out at room temperature for 1-3 days, depending on your preference. Taste the kimchi once every 1/2 day, and when you feel it’s done, you can transfer it to the refrigerator for storage. We personally prefer ours best when it’s gently fermented, after about 1 full day, but your mileage may vary.

The kimchi will last in your fridge until, basically, the end of time. It will just get more sour, unctuous, and carbonated as it continues to slowly ferment with time. But honestly, this stuff is so damn tasty it won’t last long at all.

PS: my kkakdugi is much more of a brownish-red color than yours will be, so don’t fret. The gochugaru powder I used is from our family estate in Yeoju, and is much less vibrantly fire-engine red than most commercial brands. So expect your finished product to look like cubes of delicious hellfire, friends! cubed radish kimchi kkakdugi


Korean Wife Camp: Radish Water Kimchi – Dongchimi

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korean radish water kimchi dongchimi
Paul’s stepfather, Edgar, loves Korean food almost as much as I do. Together, he and I definitely have the true Koreans in our family beat in terms of our obsession with their own cuisine. So for Father’s Day, we took him to a fun Korean BBQ restaurant called Kang Hodong Baekjong – one of the few in town where the meat is cooked over coals, rather than just a gas burner. It’s delicious.

But the part of the meal that really caught my attention was a delicious banchan dish called Dongchimi, or radish water kimchi. (Banchan is a blanket term for the fantastic array of free side dishes famously served alongside Korean barbeque.) It was deceptively simple seeming: just thin slices of “moo” or korean radish served in a salty, tangy, frosty broth – an utterly refreshing and fabulous palate cleanser. I couldn’t get enough! And while Dongchimi literally translates to “winter kimchi,” the fact that it’s served cold makes it especially delightful in the heat of summertime.

But when I asked my future mother-in-law how it is prepared, she told me it takes too long to make, so she just buys it pre-packaged at the store. What more tantalizing bait for an aspiring cook/wife/mother could there be, I ask you? A challenge! This presented the perfect opportunity for me to learn it, make it, perfect it, and dazzle the shit out of my Korean mother-in-law with the results!

dongchimi radish water kimchi

 

And while my mother-in-law was right, it does take rather a while to make (thanks to the fermentation process), the actual “hands-on” prep time and effort involved is quite minimal. The trick of this dish, really, is patience while it does it’s pickly thing and makes fermentation magic on your countertop. So, to make it simple, I’ll break up the recipe by days.

What you’ll need:

Day 1:
5 lbs Korean Radishes, cut into pieces about the size of your palm. (If you can’t source korean radishes, you can substitute daikon, which is available in most supermarkets.)
1/2 cup kosher salt (I use this brand exclusively, because it’s free of the caking agents found in other brands)

Day 5:
3 green korean chiles
3 red korean chiles, each pierced with a fork a few times
1 cup asian pear, cubed
3 green onions, roots and all
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ginger, minced
10 cups water

Grab a large glass jar. I used this one, which has a gallon and a half capacity and worked perfectly. Place your salt into a bowl, and give the radishe slices a good rinse. While they’re still wet, roll them each in the salt until well-coated, and place them into the jar. If you have any leftover salt in the bowl, sprinkle it on top of the radish slices in the jar. Cover and refrigerate it for 4-5 days, during which time the salt will pull moisture from the radishes, softening them and preparing them to absorb all the flavors in the delicious, briney broth you’ll be creating later.

After a few days have passed, you’ll notice about an inch or two of water has collected at the bottom of the jar, which will serve as the base of your brine. Grab the rest of your ingredients, it’s go time!

Toss the chiles, cubed asian pear, and green onions into the jar. Place your minced ginger and garlic into a cheesecloth bundle and drop that in, too.

korean pickled radish recipe - dongchimi

Add your 10 cups of water, give it a good stir, and cover it up again. Then put your patient pants on and leave it to ferment at room temperature on your counter.

korean radish water kimchi

Within a day or less, you’ll notice the formerly clear brine has begun to take on a milky, cloudier hue. That’s when you know the magic is happening! After a day, give the broth a taste, and see if you’re happy with the balance of mild spiciness, tangy tartness, and salty savoriness. Try a bit of radish, too. If it’s too crunchy, you might want to cut your chunks in half to speed up their softening. You want them to still have a bit of crisp to them, but they shouldn’t feel “raw” to the tooth, either. But it’s all a matter of preference. In our case, we left it out for two full days before it achieved perfection. Then just transfer it to the fridge, and take bits of radish and broth to enjoy at your leisure!

I was quite nervous that after all the time that went into making this, it wouldn’t match up the quality of Kang Hodong Baekjong’s delicious dish. But when we had our first bowlful with dinner, I was delighted to find that I loved it and even preferred it to the original! And when Paul declared it “restaurant quality,” I knew we had a hit on our hands. I’ll be taking a batch to my mother-in-law’s house next weekend, and can’t wait to hear what she thinks!

dongchimi radish water kimchi recipe

To serve, slice the radish very thinly, and place in a bowl with a ladle or two of the chilled brine and a few chunks of asian pear. If you have company, toss in a chile or bit of green onion for color. Dongchimi pairs fantastically with a hearty steak from the grill, or burgers… but I enjoy it with pretty much everything! And because it’s fermented, it’s chock full of nutritious probiotics which support healthy digestive function (among other great benefits), and high in oxygen saturation, so it’s a wonderful elixir for when you’ve overindulged and find your belly in a bit of gluttonous distress.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Stay tuned, because next up will be my tried and true traditional napa cabbage kimchi recipe! It took me 5 attemps to perfect it, and I can’t wait to share it with you.

Until next time…. 안녕히계세요! (Goodbye!)