Korean word of the day: 아줌마 (Ah-ju-ma)
A middle-aged or older Korean woman
You know you’re an 아줌마 when you look forward to kimchi making parties with your girlfriends, or shall we say, 아줌마 friends. Nevermind the fact that I have two kids and love national public radio – no, my status of 아줌마 was officially sealed the moment I eagerly anticipated making kimchi with my friends.
So when the day finally came, I happily grabbed some kimchi jars, and made my way to the kimchi partay. Our kimchi guru, YoungMi, had thoughtfully bought all the ingredients for our party so all my friends and I had to do was provide slave labor and our own containers.
As some of you may know, there are many forms of kimchi. Instead of traditional napa cabbage kimchi (which requires a LOT of work), we opted to make a radish kimchi called kakdugi (깍두기), which takes less time, but is equally potent. (Warning: All kimchi smells are quite pungent but kakdugi is in a class by itself!)
If you are up for your own kimchi making adventure, here’s the kakdugi recipe we used to make our batch. (Ingredient list reduced for 1-2 people.) This recipe can be done by all ajummas and non-ajummas everywhere!
4 Korean radishes or Japanese daikons, peeled and chopped
½ cup Course salt
½ tbs White sugar
1/3 cup Sweet rice flour
1.5 cups Water
½ cup Garlic, peeled
½ tbs Ginger, peeled
1 Yellow onion, peeled
2 Apples or pears, peeled and cored
1 tbs Fish sauce (optional)
1 cup Red pepper flakes
1 bunch Green onions, chopped
1 bunch Asian chives, chopped
Wash and peel radish. Chop radish into small bite-sized cubes and hold in a large bowl or container. After cutting, mix in salt and sugar. Let stand for at least 1 hour. This process will remove excess water from the radish.
For the marinade, start by boiling a large pot of water and mixing in the sweet rice flour. Keep mixing until consistency is thick, then turn off heat and let cool. In a blender or food processer, combine garlic, ginger, apple, onion, and fish sauce. In a separate bowl, combine blended mixture with red pepper flakes, green onions, and chives. Once mixed, add the cooled sweet rice flour. Mix all ingredients thoroughly – you have your sauce!
Now back to your radish. After an hour or two, drain the water from the radishes and give it a quick rinse. Drain again and add in the sauce mixture. Coat radish cubes until red. You can add more or less sauce depending on your preference for spice and salt. (If you have a lot of sauce leftover, you can refrigerate for up to 2 weeks or freeze for your next batch of kimchi.)
And tada! Kakdugi. Store in large airtight glass or metal containers (plastic will stain). You can eat right away, but it’s best after fermenting for 2-3 days at room temperature. After that, store in the fridge and eat within 2-3 weeks for optimal taste.
Pair your kakdugi with many traditional Asian dishes or, if you’re a freak like me, eat it with everything! Kakdugi and spaghetti … yumm.