Sunday, February 9, 2014

Radish Kimchi

I make a bowl full of  soba noodles. Spicy, mouth-tingling, laced with spinach and edamame. Delicately fried fish sits by the noodles. And I think spoonfuls of radish kimchi would be a perfect side. We relish kimchi. It's briny, fishy flavor along with the crunch of Napa cabbage sits well in the mouth. It usually is the first of the banchan dishes to be eaten. Korean restaurants have this smorgasbord of tiny dishes that appear when you order bulgogi or table-grilled beef. Sautéed spinach, anchovies, a Korean version of Waldorf salad, bamboo shoots and other unidentifiable delicacies clatter onto your table along with the requisite kimchi. It's usually the tradional kind...napa cabbage, long fermented, spicy, limpid and crunchy at the same time!  

And then we eat at Hanjan. A modernist take on traditional Korean food. Delicious and quite out of the ordinary! We start with radish kimchi. The plate is consumed within seconds. We ask for another. Bite size cubes of radish vanish again. I am enchanted with this conceptual version! I love it. And I am determined to replicate it.

Mooli or white radish has languished in the veggie bin for a while. It is one of those veggies I am compelled to buy though I'm not sure why? I usually make mooli pickles to stuff bahn mi sandwiches. You can't make too much or else it's bahn mi's forever. So mooli sits while I ruminate. White radishes are ginormous. These baseball bat-like tubers have a clean, crisp, tart taste, not unlike their smaller red cousins. The leaves taste mustardy when stir fried. North Indians use both mooli and leaves liberally in salads as well as stuffing for parathas. But today I an converting the mild tasting mooli into chili drenched cubes.

Serves 4

1 large White Radish or Mooli
1 teaspoon Korean Chili Powder
2 teaspoons Sweet Chile sauce
1/2 teaspoon Fish sauce
1 teaspoon toasted Sesame seeds

Pare outer skin of radish. Cut crosswise into 1/2 inch thick circles. Cut circles and then into 1/2 inch cubes. Place in a bowl.

Sprinkle chili powder, sweet chili sauce, fish sauce and sesame seeds on to radish cubes. Stir to mix.

Let cubes sit for 1/2 hour. Stir occasionally.

Give it a enthusiastic stir before you eat.

Its wonderful!!! Crisp with a hint of sweet and an underlying promise of spice. Dinner is a dichotomy on my plate and I love it!

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