I’m cleaning out my pantry, people, trying to use up what I’ve got before heading out of town for the summer. Heading out of the country, that is! Many of you know that I and my tastebuds have developed a deep love for Korean food this past year. But what many of you may not know is that I’ve actually been studying Chinese since January. Wait, what?
Let me back up. I meant to study Korean so that I could better understand the food culture. But with education budget cuts across California, Korean language classes are no longer offered within 100 miles of Santa Barbara! The logical alternative was Chinese, as Hanzi (Chinese characters) have been adopted for use in certain settings in Korea. So really, why not?
But, another and perhaps more pressing reason I’ve been studying Chinese is that I will be spending the summer in Taiwan. Having made up my mind last November to go, I can’t quite wrap my mind around the fact that my departure date is drawing so close now! In just a few weeks, I’ll be off for my first adventures in Asia. Of course, while I’m over in that part of the world, I will be heeding the call in my heart (or is it my stomach?) and making a visit Korea.
It’s looking to be an amazing summer—soaking up lots of hot weather, connecting with friends overseas, and exploring fantastic cuisine—an exciting a break from my routine here in Santa Barbara. So tell me, what is not-to-be-missed when visiting Taiwan or Korea (in and around Seoul)? I know Apricosa gets visitors from all around the world on a daily basis, and I’d love to get your suggestions!
So, in light of this all, I’m presently seeking to clear up what’s been hanging around in the kitchen. A few days ago, a friend gave me a whole lot of wonderful Korean daikon, known in Korean as mu (무). I just love these crisp white radishes—they’re slightly peppery but so cooling and refreshing! Besides kkakdugi, one of my favorite recipes involving mu is musaengchae, a banchan in which the mu is julienned and seasoned with a spicy, lightly sweet-and-sour seasoning. I’ve come up with a great recipe for musaengchae, cobbled together from a number of sources, that I think is a great complement to some soup (like seaweed soup) and rice and maybe some broiled fish and a few other side dishes. Let me tell you how to make it!
Mu Saengchae (무생채) Spicy Shredded Radish
Adapted from Institute of Traditional Korean Food and Lee Wade’s Korean Cookery
1 lb. Korean daikon (무, mu), cut into large matchsticks*
1 Tbs. salt
2-4 tsp. sugar (to taste)
1 Tbs. Korean red chili powder (고추가루, gochugaru)
3 green onions, in 1-inch pieces
1 ½ tsp. minced garlic
1 ½ tsp. sesame salt
1 ½ Tbs. rice vinegar
Toss julienned mu with 1 Tbs. salt and let sit 5 minutes to draw out the water and make the mu more pliable. Rinse off salt and drain well, squeezing out excess liquid.
Place mu in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle the remaining ingredients over. Toss well, rubbing the seasonings onto each piece of julienned mu (you may want to wear gloves to prevent staining your hands). Check seasoning and add more salt and chili powder (or chili paste, 고추장/gochujang) to taste. Can keep up to one week, refrigerated.
* Somewhere around 0.5 cm square by 8-10 cm long (or 3/16-inch square by 3-4 inches long)