Traditional Radish Kimchi (Seokbakji)
Although cubed radish kimchi (Kkakdugi) is a well known, this old-fashioned radish kimchi (seokbakji) is also delicious and commonly eaten in the south. It holds the crunch texture longer and maintain its deep robust fermented flavor throughout.
I speak three languages;
I consider myself very lucky to be able to communicate with people by the chosen accent. #1 and #3 are the same language, but depends on people you talk to, sometimes it can be difficult to communicate. And you get an unexpected and unwanted attention.
Why am I telling you this? Because…, this Radish Kimchi represented my Korean accent so well.
After I finished high school in a small town of southern shore of Korea, I moved to Seoul. It was a long time ago but I clearly remember. Whenever I opened my mouth to start talking, these Seoul-ians started laughing at me. It was all because of my strong southern accent. How strong was my southern accent? — almost equivalent to Scottish accent to those who speak American English if I can compare.
Some loved it but the other thought it was funniest thing they ever heard. This radish kimchi (무우김치) reminds me of my humiliated(?) past.
One day my friend and I had bone marrow soup called “seolung-tang” in a small restaurant. The soup always accompanied by radish kimchi as a side dish. Seoul-ians call it “mu-kimchi“, and I or people in my hometown call it “mushi kimchi“.
The kimchi ran out before we finished the soup. So I bluntly raised my hand and shouted toward the serving lady in the restaurant, asking for more with my ever-sweet southern accent, “아줌마, 여게 김치좀 더 주이소…! (Excuse me, we need more kimchi here)”
Before I knew it, I could hear the giggling sounds from here and there. Basically everyone was laughing at my accent. That day I realized that in order to maintain my dignity(?) in this big city, I need to learn to speak their language. So I decided to train myself to talk like the Seoul-ians ever since. It took several months until I became very natural.
So here it is, my lovely radish kimchi that I still adore regardless of all the mocking I had to deal with. 🙂
Well, thanks for reading my boring story. I will move on with the recipe now.
This type of radish kimchi is called Seokbakji (석박지). The small cubed radish kimchi called “Kkakdugi” is pretty much the same thing except the size and the shape. Seokbakji is more commonly eaten in the south while the Kkadugi is more common in Seoul and other northern area in Korea.
Seokbakji will give you the irresistible full bodied flavor and texture than Kkakdugi if you compare, due to its fermentation effected by the shape and the size.
Radish is a vegetable of winter in Korea. Grab some good looking Korean radishes and make a batch of radish kimchi. You will know why Koreans can’t get enough.
How to make Traditional Radish Kimchi
You MUST use a Korean radish. Daikon radish won’t give the proper texture once fermented.
Peel your radish and cut it with an angle as you turn the radish, about 1/2″ thick on the thickest part and very thin on the opposite end.
This free form cutting action is almost like cutting a wood stick to make a sharp tool when you go camping. Make any sense?
Adding sea flavored stock to any kimchi is like adding wines to gourmet dish. It intensifies the pungent flavor of kimchi without the fish-like taste. It makes a huge difference. Hope you don’t skip it.
But if you can’t have seafood for any reason, then, replace the seafood stock with plain water.
In Kimchi making you will need some sort of starch form to help bind the filling to radish and to help the fermentation process. You can use rice flour made into glue or plain cooked rice. Today I pick the potato for this recipe simply because I had one. You only need 2 tablespoonful of mashed potato.
Put potato, onion, garlic, and the reserved stock stock in a blender and process until smooth.
How to ferment and store radish kimchi
Cover and let kimchi sit in the room temperature for 1-2 days until you see some tiny bubbles appear on the top surface. You will also see more water is extracted from the radishes. That is a natural phenomenon and not to worry. Toss well to even out the juice. Store the kimchi in the refrigerator for 1 week and your radish kimchi is ready to serve!
What to serve with?
Well fermented Radish kimchi is a great accompaniment to any Korean soup or stew dishes. Especially with noodle soups. Try these dishes to serve with traditional radish kimchi.
- Korean Spicy Seafood Noodle Soup (Jjamppong)
- Ox Tail Bone Marrow Soup
- Beef Bean Sprout Soup
I still keep my southern tongue and uses whenever my mother calls me. To me it sounds unique and beautiful but I guess that is not to everyone’s ears. My husband, who doesn’t understand Korean, often think I was arguing with my mother over the phone, LOL!
Traditional Radish Kimchi
For anchovy stock
- 5-6 dried large anchovies
- 1 piece dried sea kelp (dashima)
- 1 cup water
- Peel the radish and slice them freely (from the side to center as you pivoting the radish to create irregular shape, about 1/2" thick on the top. (see the tutorial)
- In a large shallow bowl, dissolve salt in Sprite. Add the radish slices and soak for 1 hour. Toss radishes a couple of times during to get evenly salted.
- To make anchovy stock, combine anchovies and sea kelp with about 1 cup water in a pot and bring to boil, simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let it rest until ready to use.
- In a blender, combine garlic, ginger, onion, mashed potato, and pour 1/2 cup of anchovy stock; puree until smooth.
- When the radishes are done with soaking, rinse them once. Drain well.
- In a small mixing bowl, combine chili flakes, salted shrimp, anchovy sauce, sugar, and the onion garlic puree. Mix well to form thin batter.
- In a large shallow mixing bowl, combine radishes and the chili filling. Toss them well to coat the kimchi filling to radish.
- Transfer the radish kimchi into an airtight container. Pour 1/2 cup of water to the mixing bowl you used making kimchi. Rinse out all the remaining chili filling residue inside the bowl and pour it over the radish Kimchi.
- Cover and let it sit in the room temperature for 1-2 days until you see some tiny bubbles appear on the top surface. You will also see more water is coming out of radishes. Toss well to even out the juice. Store the kimchi in the refrigerator for 1 week and your radish kimchi is ready to serve!