It’s not often that you find yourself in a position to compare daikon, or the Japanese radish, to buses but that’s where I find myself this week. You know, when you wait for one for hours then three come along at once? I had decided (after a chat with my sister about how delicious and nutritious it is) to make some of my own kimchi; my first foray into the world of homemade fermented foods. Being married to a German, you’d think I’d start off with the somewhat simpler two ingredient sauerkraut but that felt like too much of an autumnal activity to be indulging in June so I went with kimchi (quite possibly an autumnal activity too if you’re Korean but for me I’ll always associate Asian food with lighter fare -I am British after all- and therefore summer). As usual though I got quite hung up on the idea of being truly authentic; I wanted it to be exactly like the kimchi from the Korean restaurant we like to eat in. Of course fussing about getting the exact vegetable ratio is losing the point a bit; it’s just another method of preserving veg after all and recipes vary all over. It’s the fermenting that gives it all those amazing gut health benefits and the garlic/ginger/chilli paste that gives it its distinctive moorish taste. But I’m getting away from the point. I had never eaten kimchi without daikon in it, so I thought I better make mine with some in there too. Easier said than done. I appeared to be caught up in a (Suffolk wide at least) daikon shortage. The local shops couldn’t help and the Asian supermarket were all out. I finally found some tucked away in a Caribbean store, where it’s known as mooli. I got it home to start the quite lengthy process of making my kimchi and all of a sudden the stuff is in my veg box, the market, everywhere. Or to put it another way; time to start messing around with mooli.
Now there are quite a few ways to pickle daikon or cucumber, it’s true. So I can’t claim this as uniquely my recipe, but there aren’t so many together and this is just my take on the classic cucumbers pickles. They are super simple to make and are a great side either for a barbecue or in a burger. And you’ll know exactly what’s in them because you’ll have put it in yourself meaning you can make the most of all those high fibre, low fat daikon and cucumber health benefits. Benefits like reducing the risk of certain cancers, osteoporosis and respiratory infections in case you were wondering. Prepared this way they should last you a week in the fridge but bear in mind I didn’t can mine for the reasons that I’ve gone into in other posts; food usually doesn’t last that long around here anyway. It seemed an awful lot of effort to go to when I know most of them would be polished off by the weekend but should you live in a less hungry household feel free to extend their shelf life by canning them. This recipe should give you enough for 2-3 jars depending on how tightly you pack them in. That’s a lot of burgers, even in my house.
Pickled Daikon and Cucumber Recipe
500g of daikon/ mooli
1 large cucumber
200ml rice vinegar
110g caster sugar
A scant tbsp sea salt
1-2 tsp Korean chili powder (gochaguru)
Start by dissolving the salt and sugar in the mixed vinegar and water. Stir in the chili powder.
Thinly slice your veg (I used a mandolin) and stir into the vinegar. Cover and leave at room temperature for about 24 hours.
Decant into the jars you are using (sterilized properly if you are canning it) and store in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.