Cleaning out a garden bed recently I discovered these four black radishes. It's hard to tell from the photo, but the three largest are all about the size of a fast-pitch softball. I have never seen radishes like this before (this is our first year for black radishes) and what is most amazing of all is they are still edible. For some reason, no matter how big they get, and at a point when most radishes are bursting out in flower and turning into wood, these black radishes are still soft and creamy.
Okay, so I'll find some way to eat them, I thought. And it just so happened I was already making cabbage kimchi and right next door to the recipe for cabbage kimchi was one for radish kimchi.
That would be on page 49 of Sandor Elix Katz's "Wild Fermentation." I improvised a little, using my black radishes instead of daikon radish, omitting the burdock and using some of my own turnips. This kimchi also includes horseradish to punch up the flavor.
Peel the radishes and cut them into wedges. Slice the wedges thinly. Do the same with two large turnips. Toss with two large carrots, also sliced thinly on an angle.
Place the vegetables in a large bowl or bucket, cover with water to a depth of about 1 inch, then remove the water, measure it and create a brine according to this formula: 3 tablespoons pickling or additive-free sea salt for each quart of water. Add the brine back to the vegetables, cover and allow to sit 24 hours.
After 24 hours, drain the vegetables, reserving the brine.
Meanwhile, make a past or slurry by finely chopping 6 peeled garlic cloves in a food processor. Add six red hot chilies (such a jalapeno)--seeded and deveined-- and chop fine. Add two large onions and process these until a slurry is achieved. Add about 1 cup freshly grated horseradish and 1/2 cup grated ginger.
Mix the slurry with the root vegetables and place in a crock or non-reactive bucket (I use a heavy-guage plastic bucket). Press the vegetables firmly with your balled-up fist until a brine rises to the top. If there isn't enough brine, add some of the reserved soaking brine. Cover with a ceramic plate, again pressing down firmly until the brine rises over the plated. The vegetables must be completely submerged to ferment and avoid spoilage. Weigh the plate down with a large plastic container filled with water.
Cover the crock or bucket with a tea towel to keep out dust and place in a cool, dark place to ferment. Taste the vegetables occasionally until they have fermented to your taste, then refrigerate, either packing the kimchi into jars or placing the whole crock or bucket in the refrigerator. The kimchi should keep for months.
I made this kimchi about a week ago and already it is starting to taste like the real deal.