Crunchy, fermented hedonism at its best. Nothing like a bite of pungent, juicy, spicy Kkakdugi to make every meal taste better!
If there’s an easy kimchi to make at home, it’s Kkakdugi — Korean Cubed Radish Kimchi.
Kkakdugi is an “easy” first kimchi to learn. Shorter salting time. Chunks of cubed radish (vs layers of napa cabbage). Mixed in one bowl. Easy for small batch production.
I don’t make Baechu Kimchi without my Halmoni — but I definitely make Kkakdugi! In fact, it’s the only kimchi I make by myself. And now, you can too.
What is Kkakdugi?
Kkakdugi is Korean cubed radish kimchi.
Kkakdugi is served as one of many banchan (side dishes) at the Korean table.
But honestly? Kkakdugi tastes good with anything and everything. That crunchy, fermented bite of spicy goodness is SO addictive!
What does Kkakdugi taste like?
Similar to Baechu (Napa Cabbage) Kimchi, Kkakdugi has that that addictive, fermented deliciousness. All that heady pungency that kimchi lovers know and crave.
The main difference is the texture. Kkakdugi is crunchy and firm. You take a bite and CRUNCH! The cubed radish kimchi is substantially chunky. Each bite feels solid and sturdy. A satisfying, crunchy moment of fermented pleasure.
Kkakdugi is also sweeter and juicier than regular kimchi. Korean radish is subtly sweet. Plus, sugar is added during the salting process and final seasoning. So good!
What makes Kkakduggi the easiest kimchi to make at home?
You can make kimchi out of any vegetable. It’s more a process than an end product.
But it can be quite the production when making Napa Cabbage Kimchi in bulk. All those many layers that need to be salted then seasoned. All the draining and washing. It’s 2-3 day affair! That’s why Napa Cabbage Kimchi is made communally at events called Kimjangs. Everyone pitches in, to make the process faster and more fun.
Differently, Kkakdugi is simple and straight-forward. Only 15 minutes of prep! And 30 minutes of salting! Kkakdugi is the kimchi you’ll be making again and again. You can do this!!
Korean Radish. Also known as Moo/Mu, Korean Radish is round with a stout, fat body. The coloring should be mostly white with some green at the top. Green = sweet, so the greener the better. Look for heavy, firm, plump-looking radishes with no cracks.
I do not recommend making Kkakdugi with Chinese or Japanese daikon. They are not the same! FYI – Korean radish is in season during the months of November and December. That’s when it’s sweetest and juciest.
Shrimp Paste + Fish Sauce. I like adding both shrimp paste and fish sauce to my Kkakdugi. The combination adds another layer of flavor and complexity. But, if you don’t have shrimp paste, fish sauce alone works, too.
Garlic + Ginger + Green Onion. The aromatics that are the base of so many Asian dishes. Kimchi is simply not the same without them. While the green onions can be replaced with onion, don’t skimp on the garlic and ginger!
Gochukaru. There is no substitute for Korean dried chili flakes. Spicy, fruity, and slightly smoky — good Gochukaru is ESSENTIAL. Look for coarsely ground Gochukaru that’s made in Korea for the best flavor. If you can afford it, buy the best quality you can. Store leftovers in the freezer for long-term storage.
Salt. Kimchi is typically cured with coarse, mineral salt. In fact, some Koreans swear by it. But I’ve made kimchi using regular salt with great results. That being said, I’ve noted both options in the recipe card.
Rice Flour. At first, I used to make Kkakdugi with pureed, cooked white rice — Halmoni’s secret ingredient. That little bit of starchy sweetness adds so much flavor. And an overall smoother, more pleasing texture.
So when George from My Eclectic Bites (check out her Vegan Kimchi!) told me that using rice is old school, I had to laugh. Halmoni IS old school! She’s 91! Apparently, modern Koreans use rice flour instead. Genius! What an easier option! So, that’s what I do now. (If you don’t have rice flour, regular flour also works.)
How will I know when my Kkakdugi is ripe and ready to eat?
Fermentation is part science and part magic, I like to say. There’s no hard and fast rule to determine how long it will take for kimchi to ripen.
The rate of fermentation is affected by a variety of factors. Every kitchen is different. Some are warm. Others are cold. Some have higher humidity levels. Others are quite dry. Also, the time of year matters. And the amount of sugar that’s added. Even the sweetness of the radish. There are so many factors to consider!
Basically, warm temperatures = faster fermentation. If you want to speed up fermentation, keep kimchi at room temperature for a day or two. If you want to slow things down (kimchi can get overly fermented and too acidic), store in the back of the fridge where it’s coldest.
My recipe calls for leaving Kkakdugi at room temperature for the first 24 hours. That gets things started. After that, I recommend transferring to the fridge for another week or two. But even then, you may have to wait longer. It really depends!
Also, I live in cold, snowy Toronto. My kimchi will take longer to ferment compared to someone living in warm and sunny California. Keep that in mind as you check for ripeness.
To check that your kimchi is properly fermenting, look for gas and bubbles. They should come up from the bottom of the jar to the top. Sometimes you’ll see fizzing and little bubbles. Open the jar from time to time to release the gas. If there’s a lot of pressure, you’ll hear a loud POP! when the gas is expelled. To that end, don’t overpack the jars. It could lead to a kimchi explosion, much like opening a shaken pop bottle.
When the kimchi is ready, it will taste, look, and smell ready. Acidic. Pungent. Juicy. DELICIOUS!
Fermentation is a process! Be patient! And trust that it will work!
How to Make Kkakdugi:
Peel and cube radish into 1-inch chunks. If they look big, that’s ok. They will shrink.
Sprinkle cubed radish with salt and sugar. Mix with your hands and set aside for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, transfer radish to a colander. Drain liquid. Transfer radish back into the bowl.
Add remaining ingredients, directly on top of the radish. Using your hands, mix well. At first, it will look dry. Keep mixing until a thick, juicy paste forms.
Pack into jars. Let sit at room temperature for 24 hours. Then transfer to the fridge. After a week or two of fermenting, it should taste pleasantly sour and ripe. Time to eat!
Note: The hardest part of the process will be waiting for fermentation to do its magic. I suggest tasting the Kkakdugi on the day it’s packed, for reference. After a week or two, it should be fully ripe with an acidic tang and sharpness. Also, it will be sweeter and quite juicy. The taste will be completely different from the day you packed it!
Kkakdugi AKA Korean Radish Kimchi
- Large Bowl
- 2 2LJars to store kimchi OR 1 5L Jar
- Rubber dish washing gloves OR disposable food service gloves (optional)
To Salt the Radish:
- 5 lbs Korean Radish (moo) (2-3 medium to large ones)
- 3 Tbsp coarse mineral salt (regular salt also works)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup Gochukaru (Korean chili flakes)
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 1/4 cup fish sauce (I use 3 Crabs brand)
- 1 Tbsp saewoojut (Korean salted fish) (you can sub with fish sauce if you don't have it)
- 6 green onions, chopped (can be subbed with 1 small onion grated to a juicy pulp)
- 10 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 inch ginger, peeled + minced
- 1 Tbsp rice flour (regular flour also works, if you don't have it)
- Rinse dirt off radishes. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the skin. Also, trim the ends with a knife.
- Cube into 1-inch chunks and transfer to a large bowl. Try to cut into similar-sized chunks. It's ok if they look big. They will shrink.
- Add salt and sugar. Mix thoroughly, using your hands, to ensure that every cube is evenly coated. The cubes should look "frosted." Set aside at room temperature, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, transfer radish to a colander. There will be a lot of liquid remaining in the bowl. Discard the liquid and rinse out the bowl with water. DO NOT RINSE THE RADISHES! Transfer the drained radishes back into the bowl.
- Add the remaining ingredients (labeled "seasoning" on the recipe card), directly on top of the cubed radish. Mix thoroughly, using your hands, to ensure that every cube is evenly coated. (Rubber dishwashing gloves or disposable gloves come in handy here). At first, the seasoning will look dry. But after several minutes, the seasoning will form a thick, juicy paste.
- Transfer to glass containers, making sure to seal the lid. I use 2 2L canning jars for this amount. DO NOT OVERPACK THE JARS! Let sit at room temperature for 24 hrs then transfer to the fridge. After a week or two in the fridge, check the Kkakdugi. When the Kkakdugi is ripe, it will taste pleasantly sour and acidic. The Kkakdugi should last a long time but is best eaten within 3-4 months.