21 May 2011

Musaengchae - Spicy Shredded Radish

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 ().  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 (, 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)


little daisy said...

this looks like daikon kimchi to me. without the long fermentation.
I love Korean food! the spiciness is quite different from our Malay food.

the Junkie book said...

it's been a while since i came in here and now that i'm here you're moving out???!!

i can see how excited you're and my korean students have told me how beautiful tht land is and the pics i've seen vouch for it!!

this is so much like kimchi! love it!

you get a fabulous chance to explore the new with your latest SLR. freeze some awesome moments!!

Anonymous said...

Hello, I am a first time reader of your blog, and i'm so in love with it! I went through your blog and hope to be making quite a few recipes!!^^ so excited... I hope you have a wonderful trip to asia! Also, if you get the chance to look into it, there is a korean program, sort of like rosetta stone, for at home studying, and the creator said that within a couple of hours, i don't remember how many, that you will start reading and speaking korean. When I get home, I will look at the name and let you know! I'm korean and my husband is chinese, and he's been wanting to learn korean, so my father bought him the program. Will let you know about the program name!

erica said...

Oh thank you so much for your nice comments everyone! Your kind words totally make my day.

Yes, this does come across quite a bit like daikon kimchi (kkakdugi). I had to go back and forth between the recipes and figure out what exactly makes them different. I think it does come down to the fact that this doesn't have ginger or fish sauce and isn't fermented, and that it has vinegar and sesame added in.

Have no fear, Thoma, I do plan to post about my food adventures over the summer (if all goes well with my camera)! :)

Judee @ Gluten Free A-Z said...

I never had Korean food, but I do know that Daikon is really good for you. Looks like a good recipe to try. Yum!

Judee @ Gluten Free A-Z said...

I found your blog from a comment you left on a photography dialouge. I clicked to look at your pictures and I loved your recipes..


Trisha said...

If you can, you have to go to JeJu. It is an Island just off the coast of South Korea. It is beautiful there. Also if you can, go to Pusan and visit the fish market. It is quite a trek from Seoul, but you can take the speed train right there. Also, there are several villages in the countryside that feature special cuisine that are specialized for the area. Lastly, though touristy, you have to go to the Korean Folk village. It is on the outskirts of Seoul, and it is very interesting and educational. Oh, and temples...see the temples and fortresses...they are everywhere and beautiful.

Susan said...

This is exciting news ... Taiwan and Korea! What a summer for you! Safe travels and may you bring wonderful memories, pictures, and stories back to SB when your junket is over!

As for daikon, it's a vegetable that I have rarely had... the Germans shred it into the light summer salads that are present on menus at every marktplatz cafe. I am going to try your treatment!

erica said...

Hi Susan, oh YES, I know what you're talking about! I love how the Germans include it in their salads!!

Anonymous said...

I came across your blog via foodgawker, but I'm half Korean and have been to Seoul a couple of times so I thought I might offer a couple of places to go!

1. If you're a tourist really interested in Korean culture you should check out the Insadong (인사동) neighborhood. Lots of great tea shops and cute souvenirs related to traditional items.

2. Check out the area around Hongdae (홍대). There's an arts college there and the night life is always really great. There are also really beautiful (and pricey) boutiques, and sweet coffee shops.

3. If you want some cheaper shopping try Ee-dae(이대) or Myongdong (명동). The first is cheaper, but the second is really huge and fun and exciting.

4. Eat everything!! The food is always amazing and better than anything stateside. If you're not squeamish about seafood try Nak Ji Bokum (낚지볶음) which is a spicy octopus soup. Or since it's summer, try mul naengmyun (물냉면), a cold noodle soup. Also, ppat bingsu (팥빙수).

5. It's really easy to read Korean. You can find books on amazon. since it's phonetic like our alphabet you can learn it on the flight over. It will make things a lot easier, because a lot of restaurants and shops are just the English words written in Korean.
p.s. number one touristy place to go is Namsan tower.

If you made it through all that, I hope it was helpful. Have fun!

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