This is my favorite kimchi to make, because it’s fast, easy and delicious. With cabbage-based kimchi, you have to massage the salt and spices into the cabbage leaves, but with radishes you basically toss it all together and that’s it! Plus, radish kimchi ferments in about three days, while cabbage kimchi usually takes more like six.
The recipe is based on Karen Solomon’s Cubed Radish Kimchi in Asian Pickles, which is a fascinating cookbook about pickles from Japan, Korea, China, India and Southeast Asia. In traditional radish kimchi, the radishes are cut into cubes, but I prefer mine sliced and quartered because it’s easier to pack into mason jars and I think the texture comes out better. I also love adding green onions, or occasionally incorporating some carrots. I find kimchi is very forgiving, so it’s hard to go wrong!
Note: In the photos below, I was making an extra large batch (about 6 1/2 pounds of daikon radish), so a regular batch should fit in one large bowl and two quart-size mason jars.
3 pounds daikon radish, peeled, cut into 1/4-inch slices and quartered
3 tbsp sea salt
3 tbsp sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch piece ginger root, unpeeled, minced
1/2 cup gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes)
3 tbsp soy sauce or fish sauce
1 tbsp gochujang (Korean fermented red chili paste)
4 stalks green onion, chopped
In a large bowl, combine the radish slices, salt and sugar and stir until evenly distributed. Let it sit for 15 minutes, stir, then let it sit for another 15 minutes.
In a separate bowl, combine the garlic, ginger, gochugaru, soy sauce and gochujang.
Drain the radishes, then add the spice mixture and the green onions and mix thoroughly. Pack it all into mason jars or your preferred fermentation vessel, pressing down firmly to eliminate air pockets.
Cover the jars loosely (for example, with a half-tightened lid, so gasses can escape) and ferment at room temperature for about three days (keep out of direct sunlight). Shake the jars once a day to distribute the juices. The kimchi should have a pleasant fermented odor — strong but not foul. Taste for doneness, then transfer to the refrigerator.
Pictured: Pyrex Speckled Lines 404 Round Mixing Bowl, Pyrex Verde 404 Round Mixing Bowl, Pyrex Spring Blossom 2 403 Round Mixing Bowl, Fire King 472 Casserole