Sunday, January 22, 2012

Radish Kimchi Salad

Today is a special day for 5 Element Food - it's the 2 year anniversary and my 3rd Chinese New Year's posting! I still make most of the same lucky foods each year, but this year I made sure to make a Chinese Chicken Salad as lettuce is lucky and also a whole fish along with the Buddha's Delight, the Potstickers and Radish Kimchi Salad that's a brand new recipe that I created. I'm actually celebrating on New Year's Day (tomorrow) instead of New Year's Eve this year because I've been so busy unpacking and needed the extra day to get ready.

In order to recap, here are the lucky foods that you are supposed to serve for a traditional Chinese New Year celebration:

Bamboo Shoots for Wealth and Happiness (in the Buddha's Delight dish)
Chicken for Happiness in Marriage or Relationship (Chicken Salad dish)
Dried Bean Curd for Happiness (in the Buddha's Delight dish)
Eggs for Fertility and Creativity (in the Braised Pork Belly dish)
Greens for Abundance (Steamed and served with a drizzle of Oyster Sauce)
Potstickers and Egg Rolls for Wealth (always make these....)
Lotus Root for Continuing Wealth (in the Buddha's Delight Dish)
Lychees for Close Family Ties (canned, chilled and served for dessert)
Meatballs for Reunions (made steamed Pearl Balls)
Noodles for Long Life (made a noodle salad)
Tangerines for Luck and Wealth (always have these....)
Whole Fish for Wealth (baked a whole one in Terriyaki sauce tonight)
Peanuts for Long Life (in the Chinese Chicken Salad)
Daikon Radish for Good Omens (Radish Kimchi Salad)
Watermelon Seeds for Having lots of Children (skipped them this year)

Over the next several days, I will give you the recipe for some of these foods. But since the Radish Kimchi Salad needed to be done the day before, it is the first recipe I am giving you. My son Stephen and I love Kimchi of every kind whether made with Napa Cabbage, Daikon radish, cucumbers or Bok Choy. My only concern in buying Kimchi is that I have to read the ingredients very carefully as many of them contain dried shrimp or shrimp paste that I cannot eat because of my pretty severe allergy. So, we were craving Kimchi today and we decided to make it ourselves. Now my mother has always made Kimchi as she loved it too. She was also convince that the precursor to the Korean kind was made in Northern China where her father's family is from. She also had a Korean friend who showed her how to make it and I grew up with it as a perfectly normal food and so did my kids.

So I bought a large Daikon Radish last week with the express purpose of making Radish Kimchi but forgot to make it enough days ahead for the more traditional kind that is served in big chunks. So, I improvised today and made a quick Radish Kimchi salad that ended up being so good that I'm sharing the recipe. Now, you can ferment this salad for more days than I am (I just let it sit for one day) and it will become more authentic. Kimchi often gets a bad rap for the strong smell and its' spiciness. But, if you make it yourself, you can control these aspects. And, Kimchi is extremely good for you. It has been shown to kill the Bird Flu as well as increasing immune function! So, make this salad and let it ferment for one or a few days and eat it for your health. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Radish Kimchi Salad

1 large Daikon Radish peeled
2 teaspoons Salt - divided
2 Tablespoons Sugar
2 Tablespoons Fish Sauce
3 Garlic Cloves, minced fine
3 Tablespoons Korean Chili Powder

To garnish: A small handful of Green onion pieces and a few Tablespoons of Sesame Seeds

Cut Daikon Radish into thin shreds (you can use a Mandoline for this or a special shredder) and put into a colander. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of salt, mix and let drain for 15 minutes. Squeeze dry and place in a glass bowl. In a separate small bowl, mix together remaining salt, sugar, fish sauce, garlic cloves and Korean Chili Powder. Add to radish and mix thoroughly. Cover with plastic wrap and leave on the counter for 1 - 5 days. When ready to serve, drain excess liquid and put on a plate and sprinkle with green onions and sesame seeds.

Five Element Analysis

Radishes are very pungent and Daikon is also white so they belong to the Metal Element and that element is covered. The garlic adds even more. The Water Element is represented by the Fish Sauce and Salt. The fermentation makes Kimchi a Wood Food as it becomes sour and the Korean Red Chili contributes the Fire Element. The Earth Element only shows up with a little bit of sugar so another Earthy food is needed to supplement this dish to contribute balance. I often eat it with Bulgogi (see previous post) and rice as the sweet beef is very Earthy. And since Kimchi is usually one of several Korean side dishes, it adds many of the elements all by itself.

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