Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Baby Radish Kimchee, only for the early birds

So I went to my handy-dandy Korean store the other day and noticed a bunch of ladies gathered-up in the produce section, head to head around the pile of green thingy, trying to grab them as much as they can. I went close to see what they are digging in for.  
For my surprise, those green thingy were the young Korean baby radishes. They are only available in spring (sometimes early in the summer). They came to market quite early this year.
They are basically baby radish that had been harvested when they just started to grow. Tender, mild, crunch..., they make wonderful Kimchee for the warmer season. They don't get available in the groceries that often. No wonder those ladies are packing their plastic bags with these cuties. Of course all of them were all Koreans! 

Being a Korean housewife I had to be part of that early bird deal (they were selling very cheap) and was able to grab two bunches in the midst of all those desperate housewives.
So, I am going to show you how you can make a wonderful Kimchee with these babies. It is called  Yulmoo Kimchee (열무김치). It is easier and quicker to make (good news, right?) than most cabbage kimhcee. However, in most cases, this kimchee has more watery, juice like filling than other kimchee. The addition of fresh chili makes the juice so refreshingly cool and tangy once fermented. It will make a wonderful cold noodle dish - one of my old time favorite summer lunch, or a quick Bibimbap as well. A true rustic Korean way of enjoying the radish babies...

By the way, why all the babies have to be so cute whether they are of humans, animals, and even vegetables?


 Here are what you need. Baby radish, Asian pear, red chili, Korean chili flakes, garlic, salted shrimps, anchovy sauce, ginger, garlic, onion, glutinous rice powder, and sugar.

First thing you need to do... Make rice glue. Combine water and rice powder and let it boil until it gets slightly thicken, about 3-5 minutes string constantly. It will be very runny like syrup. Remove from the heat and let it cool completely.

 Cut off the piggy tails from the radish babies. Scrape off the outer skin gently with a blade of your knife. On the base, where the white meets green stems, remove all the soiled part of skin by cutting off a little.

Cut off the very end leafy part of the stem. They will be too tough. Discard!
You can say Good-bye or Sayonara to them. I usually save them to make soup, though...

Slice the radish to your middle finger size. Sorry! For being a decent educated woman, I just can't show my middle finger to you. Hope you understand.

 Rinse them gently twice. Be gentle! They are babies...  Drain well.

 Now you will need a good quality Korean coarse sea salt, about 1/2 cup.

 Take about 1/4 of these greens and sprinkle some salt all over. Repeat the layers.

 Let these babies to absorb salt for about 1 hr, turning once or twice in between.

You will see what salt did to these green guys. It sucked the life out of them.
Bad salt! No dessert for you!

 Rinse about 2-3 times and drain well. Be very gentle when you rinse them. DO NOT rub or massage. If you act rough on them they will be grassy on you.

 Meanwhile puree the pear in a blender. I love to see how the solid matter becomes liquid in one touch button.

 You want to filter the puree to get rid of the fiber and the foam. You will get clear juice that way, which creates gorgeous color and texture in Kimchee juice later on.

Process fresh chili, anchovy sauce, salted shrimp, garlic in a blender. You don't need puree finely on this guys.

 Now, get a big mixing bowl. Place the radish greens, add chili mixture, Korean chili flakes, sliced, fresh chilies and onions, sugar, and ginger. Pour the cooled rice glue and the pear juice.

 Very gently toss all together. Taste the juice to see if it is seasoned right for you. Add more anchovy sauce or salt according to your taste.

Two bunches of these baby radishes fit just right in a large ziplock container. 
Let it sit on the counter for 1-2 days and keep in the fridge for at least 1 week to ferment. 
This radish kimchee won't taste that good when freshly made but once they get fermented? 
Well, you won't get enough of them...

After one week...

Still vibrant in color,
Crunch yet tender greens,
The divine taste of the juice,
the Korean baby radish kimchee is ready to eat...

Baby Radish Kimchee
(열무김치, yulmoo kimchee)

2 bunches Korean baby radishes
1/2 cup Korean coarse sea salt
1/2 large onion, sliced
3 fresh red chilies, sliced
3 Tbsp Korean chili flakes 
2 tsp sugar
1 Asian pear, peeled, seeded, pureed, and filtered to collect clear juice

Rice glue:
2 Tbsp glutenous rice powder
4 cups water

4 fresh red chilies, diced
4 garlic cloves
1/2" ginger stem, peeled or 2 tsp pureed ginger
3 Tbsp salted shrimps
1 Tbsp anchovy sauce

Make a rice glue by combining water and the rice powder with a whisk in a small pot, and bring to boil. Let it thicken, about 3-5 minutes, stirring constatnly. The glue will be very runny almost like a syrup. Remove the pot from the heat and let the glue cool completely.

Cut off the long tails of the white part of the radish greens and scrape off the dirty outer skin with a blade of your knife. Make sure to clean on the base where it meets the green stems. Cut off the very end leafy parts of the stems as well. Discard them or save them for other uses, such as soup.
Cut the greens into about 2 1/2" - 3" long pieces.

Rinse the baby greens twice gently and drain. In a large mixing bowl spread 1/4 of the greens and sprinkle the 1/4 of salt all over. Repeat the layers until all the green gets sprinkled with salt evenly. Let it sit for 1 hour, turning them once or twice in between. You will see some water extracted from the greens and the volume has been reduced to nearly a half. Rinse 3 times very gently and drain well.

Process all the filling ingredients in a blender or food processor. In a large mixing bowl combine the radish greens, sliced chilies and onions, Korean chili flakes, pear juice, rice glue, and the filling. Toss very gently with hand until everything gets incorporated. The whole mixture will have lots of liquid. Taste the juice to adjust your seasoning if you need. You can add more salt or anchovy sauce according to your taste.

Transfer the Kimchee into airtight container. Let it ferment on a room temperature for 1-2 days and continue to ferment in the fridge for 1 week before you serve. Serve cool.

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