Making kimchi is a wonderful technique to learn as it holds a very important spot in the seasonal, preservation kitchen. Making kimchi is similar to making sauerkraut and once the basics are learned, the technique is applicable to many different vegetables throughout the season. This recipe places the daikon in the starring role with the traditional napa cabbage as a supporting flavor. However, you could replace the cabbage with Bok Choy or Komatsuna with equally wonderful results. Young Green Garlic and Spring Onions are also added to imbue this kimchi with a bright, Spring flavor.
Traditionally, kimchi is left to ferment for many weeks, becoming pretty funky and sour. I let this pickle only go for around 4-7 days. It should develop a mild sourness but remain clean and sharp. Feel free to ferment longer to develop a more traditional kimchi flavor and texture. This batch will fit into a 1 quart wide-mouth Mason jar. Each day give your jar a gentle shake and “burp” your jar to release any CO2 buildup. After 2 or 3 days, you should start to see some activity in the jar. Start tasting your pickle after 4 days and once it has a flavor you are happy with, place it in the fridge where it will continue to ferment at a much slower pace. I like to eat this style of kimchi when it is young but it will hold in the fridge for months.
Yields 3-4 portions
200 grams Purple Daikon
200 g Napa Cabbage (about 1 small head)
100 g Spring Onion/Scallions (about 3-4)
50 g Green Garlic (about 2 young stalks)
4 teaspoons (13.5 g) Kosher Salt
12 g Aleppo (or crushed red pepper flakes)
25 g Ginger, 2” piece
1 teaspoon Fish Sauce
⅓ cup (78 ml) Water, filtered
1. Cut cabbage into ½” pieces and give a gentle wash in cold water to remove any dirt. Drain. Place washed cabbage in a bowl and toss with the salt. Gently massage the salt into the cabbage to help release any water. Let cabbage stand for 10 minutes and then massage again and rest for a total of 20 minutes.
2. While cabbage is salted, prepare the other ingredients. Peel the daikon and cut into thin half moons or quarters, depending on the size of each root. Slice spring onions into ½” pieces and add to the daikon. If the green garlic is young and tender, slice the entire stalk, white and greens, into thin rounds. Add to the other vegetables.
3. Prepare the kimchi dressing. Peel the ginger and with a microplane, grate the ginger into a new bowl. To that add your aleppo (or crushed red pepper), fish sauce and water. Stir to combine.
4. In a large bowl, combine salted cabbage (and all liquid accumulated in the bowl), prepared vegetables and the dressing. With your hands, gently mix and massage all the ingredients together. Taste. It should have a light saltiness.
5. Pack the kimchi and any liquid into a clean, sterilized 1 quart Mason jar. Pack kimchi down as much as possible. Place a lid on the jar.
6. Place in a dark cabinet that has an ambient temperature of around 70°F. Ferment for 4 to 7 days.
Michael Joyce is a Philly-based chef and local food advocate. Spending his career in kitchens devoted to seasonality and sustainability such as Blue Hill, Bolete Restaurant and most recently Barbuzzo. He believes that cooking through the seasons and as close to the source as possible, is not only satisfying and inspiring, but critical to the health of our local communities.