As a child, I despised kimchi. I refused to eat anything spicy or tangy. The fermented funk of kimchi was offensive to me on all accounts. However, when I got older and my taste matured, I had the opportunity to eat fresh radish kimchi. The fresh crispy sweetness of the radish seduced me into another bite... and then another... until it was all gone. Maangchi's Korean cooking blog has been my guiding light for my kimchi experiments. I took her kkakdugi recipe, scaled it down, and tweaked it a bit for convenience and my personal taste. —Julie
Jeju Radish (When selecting Jeju radishes, try to select one that is half green and half white--those are sweeter) If you can't find Jeju radish, daikon can also be used
Sugar (if your radish is not as sweet, you can add more sugar to compensate or you can cut back to a 1:1 ratio with the salt if you don't like your kimchi as sweet as I do)
Kelp Shoyu (or regular shoyu if you can't find the kelp version)
Place cubed radish into a large mixing bowl and add the salt and sugar. Toss together to coat evenly. Set aside for 20-30 minutes. (The longer you wait, the more liquid will seep out. This will allow your radish to absorb more of the sauce and flavor you will be putting in later. 30 minutes was the original recommended time, but I sometimes find myself too impatient and only wait 20 minutes--it's still delicious at the end!)
While you are waiting for the radishes, cut the green onion, mince the garlic, mince (if using fresh) or measure (if using powdered) the ginger. Combine these in a small bowl with the shoyu and gochugaru, mix, and taste. (I like to tweak the amount of gochugaru at this stage if I feel like I want it spicier.)
When the waiting period for the radishes has finished, drain the liquid into a separate bowl.
Add your sauce with the shoyu, gochugaru, green onion, garlic, and ginger to the cubed radishes. Add back in about 1/3 of the liquid you drained out.
Mix well to coat all the radish cubes evenly. You can use a spoon, but I find it helpful to use a plastic glove and mix with my hands here.
Taste it and see if you want to adjust any seasonings.
Kkakdugi is ready to eat at this stage, but it gets even tastier if you let it sit in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. Store it in a glass container (the odor definitely gets absorbed into plastic) and try to make sure the radish cubes are covered in the liquid. It never really goes bad. The radish texture just becomes less crisp. I typically finish this amount over one week. You can also use less fresh kimchi in kimchi fried rice or kimchi jjigae (a kimchi stew/soup).
Devour! Kkakdugi is great as a side dish with barbecued meat, but it's great with just a bowl of freshly steamed rice. I've also been known to pick pieces out of fridge at midnight just because I can't get enough of that addictive crispy sweetness...