Saturday, March 5, 2016

Daikon Kimchi (makes one mason jar)

--photo of day one of my kimchi jar
--the color will get slightly darker red as it is aged
--this is one of the jars that was given to me by my mother-in-law (thank you!)

daikon cubes, cut scallions, and onion wedges
There are probably many methods to making the popular Korean kimchi--spicy, fermented, seasoned vegetables. The main ingredients are vegetables, chili, salt, and anchovies or fish sauce. This style of kimchi is inspired by my grandfather, mother and aunts' way of pickling some of their vegetables. They let the vegetables dry out naturally overnight or a few hours to half day or a whole day in the sun to release some of the liquid. I find that this process gives the daikon a nice crunch. My parents think this kimchi is tasty. I will tell you this about my family. If something is not good we will say it. That's just the way we are. Some people may view this differently but I call this constructive criticism because hopefully we can really learn from the feedback and make it better the next time. If we get insulted by this then we will not improve but continue to make the same bad food that no one gets too excited to eat. If you have constant large amount of food leftover and no one seems too keen about eating it then perhaps this may be a subtle hint. My mother thinks this kimchi batch has enough saltiness. They find that after 4 days it is edible. However, I normally keep the jar refrigerated and wait 7-10 days before eating (about the length of time a typical viral upper respiratory infection or a common cold lasts for the average population).

Daikon Kimchi (makes one mason jar)

1 medium sized daikon (2 lbs), peeled and cut into approximately 3/4-inch cubed, washed
1 bunch scallions, green parts only, cut into about 1-inch lengths, washed
1/2-1/4 onion, cut into about 1/4-inch wedges, washed
1 recipe of Kimchi Sauce Mixture (recipe to follow)

Method:

1) Spread the cubed daikon on a flat surface (I used 2 plates) in a single layer, leave out at room temperature overnight to dry out (the winter air can be quite dry here in New Hampshire--which is helpful to speed up the process).
2) The next day mix about 1/4 cup of salt (I used regular salt) and about 1/2 cup of water (the salted water should taste salty) and stir until blended then pour this over the partially dried daikon cubes. Leave for about 1/2 day. Stir the contents occasionally to coat evenly. More liquid will come out of the daikon after several hours.
3) Rinse the daikon a few times with clean cold water to remove the brine. Let the daikon partially dry in a strainer.
4) Marinate the prepared daikon with scallions, onion and Kimchi Sauce Mixture. Mix all ingredients until everything is well incorporated. Let the mixture sit for about 15 minutes. Stir and then add everything including the liquid to a sterilized (I boil the clean glass jar with lid for about 5 minutes--be careful not to burn yourself when you do this) glass container. You may have to shake the container a few times and press the contents down in order to get everything to fit in the jar.
5) Refrigerate the jar at least 4-5 days before eating. Turn the jar to the side or shake it a few times about once a day to get the contents distributed evenly. Be sure to use clean utensils when removing the daikon from the jar for consumption.

kimchi sauce mixture
Kimchi Sauce Mixture

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp good fish sauce (I used Squid brand)
1 1/2 Tbsp Red Pepper Paste (I used the go-chu-jang brand)*
1 Tbsp grated ginger
1 Tbsp grated garlic
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp vinegar

Method:

In a small bowl mix all ingredients together until well blended. Give the sauce a taste and adjust any seasoning according to your taste.

*You can certainly add more ginger and garlic. Often time I prefer more of these 2 ingredients. Sometimes I even add sliced gingers along with the grated ginger to my jar.
*I searched but was not able to find chili powder at the store (H-Mart). That store is huge. I must have asked the wrong staff because they were not able to help. I found the Red Pepper Paste (go-chu-jang brand) instead. It turned out the paste worked well and economical. There was another paste nearby but it was twice the price. I was unclear how the more expensive version was more superior. I think the cheaper container I bought worked just fine. 

daikon kimchi (a few days after canning)
addendum: I made another batch using 2 medium sized daikons, a few carrots and double the Kimchi Sauce Mixture. This time I added a little extra salt and fish sauce to make it a little saltier than the above recipe. According to my mother she thought it could use slightly more salt. My mother tends to prefer a saltier taste than me. I used pasta jars that I have saved over the years. These jars can be recycled and make a great gift.

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