The other night for dinner we made black rice, turnip greens sautéed in ginger, and a variation on Moosewood’s easy and delicious baked tofu (find that recipe here). But the star of the show was definitely the slightly spicy and sour cold Korean radish salad.
Korean radishes are white blending into a light green, and about the length of my hand. They have a strong, sharp flavor and are crisp and brittle. Both the radishes and their greens are commonly used in Korean dishes. This dish was put together from a memory I had of eating in Los Angeles in Korea town years ago. When I first made this salad I had no idea what the dish I was remembering was, but after a little research I’ve decided it is similar to a dish, Musaengchae, which uses many of the same ingredients.
This dish works by first cutting the radishes into small strips. I have a mandolin I use, which makes the process a whole lot quicker, but it is completely doable with a knife and a little patience. Then the radishes are set to rest in salt. The salt draws out some of the moisture in the radish and makes it more flexible. After letting it sit for a while I quickly rinsed the radishes without letting them sit in the water- the goal is to wash off some of the salt but not to let them gain back any liquid.
From this point onwards it’s simple- add the scallions, sesame seeds and sauce to the radishes and mix it together. I find that this is one of those jobs where your hands make the best tools- using your fingers makes it much easier to get some of the sauce on each strip of radish. From this point you can either serve immediately or refrigerate. A little time in the fridge might even help it- while most of ours was gone that night, the part the lasted until the next day might have tasted even better.
Spicy Korean Radish Salad
- 1 Korean Radish
- 1-2 tbsp. salt
- 1 tsp dulse
- 2 tbsp. rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp. soy
- 3 tbsp. chili garlic sauce
- 1 tsp. sesame seeds
- 5 scallions
1. Use a mandolin or cut the radish into strips, around 7mm thick. Place in a large bowl and toss in salt. Allow this to sit for 10-15 min, until it has released a good amount of moisture and the strips have become flexible.
2. While it’s sitting, cut the scallion into small pieces, about 1/8-1/4 of an inch long. Next combine the dulse, vinegar, soy sauce, garlic chile in a small bowl.
3. Drain the liquid from the radishes, and quickly rinse to wash off some of the salt. Don’t let it sit in the water, as you don’t want it to regain a lot of water. Also rinse the bowl to make sure there is no excess salt remaining in it.
4. Put the radish, scallions, sauce and sesame seeds into a large bowl. Use your hands to massage the sauce into the radish, making sure all of the vegetable gets covered. Serve immediately or chill in the refrigerator before eating.