Monday, June 27, 2016

Young Radish Kimchi | Chongak Kimchi (총각김치)

This is an exciting post for me because it's one of my favorite types of kimchi ever. My mom would attempt to make this once a year, but if we missed the baby radish season, we were out of luck. Honestly, I'm a terrible food blogger because I think the baby radish season might be over at this point so this post is somewhat moot. But, maybe you can save it for next year?

The reason I love this kimchi is because the actual radish portion is crunchy and awesome, like diced radish kimchi, but it's got a slightly crisper texture because the radish is young and the greens portion is delicious too and offers a yummy textural contrast. Mom would always cut it up with scissors and I would always dig around for my favorite part, which was the joint between the radish and the greens; I loved getting a bite with both.

It's sort of silly to share kimchi recipes because they're basically all the same. You grab a vegetable (like cabbage, cucumbers, greens, radishes, whatever you like), brine the vegetables until they're limp, rinse them off and drain them well, then season them with lots of garlic, scallion, ginger, gochugaru, and some sort of salt - whether it's actual salt or fish sauce or salted shrimp - and then leave to pickle at room temperature before refrigerating and serving. But I guess if you're not Korean, it's worth learning all of the different traditional kinds before you delve off into a world of kimchi experimenting.
Ingredients:
5 lbs. young radish
½ cup salt
¾ cup rice flour
1 cup water
10 scallions, chopped
3 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced ginger
¼ cup fish sauce
¼ cup sugar
½ to ¾ cup hot pepper flakes (gochugaru)
2 tablespoons salted shrimp

The first step is to clean the radish thoroughly. There may be soil caught in between the greens and on the radish bodies so scrub well. Mom never peeled the radish, as the skins aren't tough the way they are on full grown daikon, so I didn't. But, if you're picky, peel them.
Cut the cleaned radish in half and then generously salt the bodies and the greens. Leave the radish to soak in the salt shower for about an hour. After an hour, rinse the salt off and drain well.
To make the seasoning base, make a rice flour paste. Combine rice flour and water in a saucepan and whisk together over low heat and bring to a boil until it's thickened. Allow the paste to cool completely.
Add the rice flour paste to a large bowl with chopped scallions, minced garlic, fish sauce, ginger, sugar, hot pepper flakes, and the salted shrimp. Mix with a spoon, or even better, a gloved hand.
Grab the radish halves, one at a time, and massage with the seasoning mixture. Once one has been coated, just tuck it off to the side and continue with the remaining radish; this is why having a huge bowl is important.
Store the kimchi in an airtight container. Leave to pickle at room temperature for one to three days (the warmer it is, the less time it should spend at room temperature). Every day, as the radish begins to release some of its juices, use a ladle or a spoon to push the kimchi down to make sure it's always submerged in seasoning and moisture. Once the greens are olive in color and the radish bodies look like they're dyed red, pop the jar into the fridge. Give it a day or two in the fridge before diving in.
If you're okay with grabbing long, spaghetti-length greens and biting into the radish bodies like a barbarian, then serve the kimchi like this:
But if you want to be cool like my mom, then use some kitchen shears to cut the kimchi up for easy eating.
We enjoyed the kimchi with a weird version of my spicy octopus stirfry. I say "weird" because I added tons more vegetables, which made it a more liquidy dish, and then I served plain noodles so that we could individually spoon the nakji bokkeum over our noodles.
The kimchi was awesome and just as I remembered it from my childhood.
Here's the recipe page:

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