It would be difficult to get very far into authentic Korean cooking without entering the world of kimchi, spicy fermented/pickled vegetables. There are hundreds of different kinds of kimchi, made with many different kinds of vegetables – including the traditional cabbage, bok choy, green onions, and daikon radish.
While the following dish is more of a fresh pickle, not a fermented kimchi, it does share the same Korean red pepper as an ingredient. Shown below is a photo of the pepper that I picked up at my local grocery – believe it or not, this 1 lb. bag was the smallest on the shelf!
Though the pepper is spicy hot (as promised) I am amazed at how sweet and flavorful it is, almost like a sweet hot paprika – but much more coarsely ground. I’ll try my hand at making real kimchi sometime soon, it involves making a red pepper paste of this stuff and working it in with the vegetable(s) of choice, then setting the dish aside to ferment for varied lengths of time before consumption.
The recipe I made this weekend however, is a simple fresh pickle that can be eaten immediately. It is a recipe from The Korean Table (Chung and Samuels). The recipe uses daikon radish, which can be found in Asian or Indian markets (Indians call it ‘mooli’).
Spicy Fresh-pickled Daikon
1 about 1 lb. daikon radish (this would be a small radish, or part of a larger one)
1 Tbsp. salt
2 Tbsp. sugar
Peel the daikon and cut it into matchstick shapes of the desired size. Toss with salt and sugar and set aside for 15-20 minutes. This will draw out a lot of liquid from the radish, which can be drained and discarded. Then add;
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
2 tsp. Korean red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp. ginger juice (from grating fresh ginger very finely)
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 Tbsp. roasted sesame seeds
Toss everything together and use right away or store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it. Eat it with rice and meat, or braised tofu – it adds a nice crunch and sweet/sour/spicy flavor. It will of course get softer as it sits, and it will only keep for about 5 days in the fridge.