This easy-to-make radish kimchi is a colorful, spicy variation of the more common cabbage kimchi. Traditional kimchi usually includes daikon radishes. This recipe reverses the proportion of radish to cabbage to showcase the radish crunch and taste. Using red-skinned cherry radishes or French breakfast radishes gives this recipe its cheerful color. You could also use watermelon radishes for their bright pink interiors.
No matter which vegetables kimchi is made with, it is loaded with naturally good-for-you probiotics. Delicious served alongside Korean or other Asian-style dishes, it is also good mixed into rice and other cooked grains. Radish kimchi is a lactofermented food that will get stronger in flavor as it ages. Although it will keep in the refrigerator for many months, it is best eaten within 3 months. Stored longer than that it starts to lose some of its crunch and may get too pungent.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Initial fermentation time: 48 hours
Yield: 1 quart or 1 liter
2 teaspoons kosher or other non-iodized salt
3 cups filtered water
½ teaspoon fish sauce (or soy sauce)
¾ pound radishes, washed
¼ pound cabbage leaves, cut into thin strips (think coleslaw)
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root
1 small onion, peeled and cut into thin slices
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste
Dissolve the salt in the filtered water. It’s important to use filtered water because the chlorine and other chemicals in most municipal tap water can interfere with the fermentation process. Stir in the fish or soy sauce.
Slice off the leaf and root ends of the radishes. Julienne them into matchstick-sized pieces, or slice into 1/8-inch rounds. A mandoline or thin slicing blade of a food processor will make this step easier.
In a large bowl, toss the chopped radish, sliced cabbage, grated ginger, sliced onion, garlic and red pepper flakes. Pack them into a clean quart or liter glass jar.
Pour the brine over the other ingredients. Press gently on the vegetables and spices to release any air bubbles. The brine should completely cover the other ingredients. If the food floats out of the brine, weight it with a smaller glass jar filled with water. If the vegetables are staying immersed in the brine, just cover the jar they are in loosely with a lid.
Place the jar of kimchi on a small plate to catch the overflow that may happen as it starts to ferment. Leave it at room temperature for 24-48 hours.
Remove the lid or small jar weight and check the kimchee after the first 24 hours. You should start to see some bubbles and it will begin to develop a lightly sour smell (like sauerkraut, but more pungent because of the garlic and ginger).
Once you see and smell signs that the kimchi is actively fermenting, transfer the jar to the door of your refrigerator. This is the warmest part of your refrigerator but still cooler than room temperature — perfect for your kimchi to keep slowly fermenting.
COOK’S NOTE: Kimchi is ready to eat 1-2 weeks after you make it. If you plan to store it for longer than a month, move it to a cooler part of your refrigerator (one of the central shelves rather than the inside of the refrigerator door).