easy korean cooking

Quick, summery bok choy-and-radish kimchi is the perfect intro to Korean cooking

Korean cooking is one of the hottest trends out there now – in more ways than one. (Yep, this food can be spicy!) Not only are chefs all over the country using Korean techniques and ingredients and riffing on Korean dishes, but Korean cookbooks are being published left and right. 

Lately I've been cooking from three new ones. Robin Ha's Cook Korean!: A Coming Book With Recipes has been making a splash (and I just finished putting up a traditional cabbage kimchi from that book). 

And there's Koreatown: A Cookbook by Deuki Hong and Matt Rodbard – I'll be testing a recipe from that one later this week. 

In the meantime, I made one dish I think you'll love – a light, summery bok choy and radish kimchi that's quick and easy to make. It's the perfect introduction to Korean cooking. And maybe the perfect introduction to Korean eating, as well – Wylie's friend Michelle, who had never tasted Korean food, loved it. 

The recipe comes from K Food: Korean Home Cooking and Street Food by Da-Hae and Gareth West, a British couple. Los Angeles Times food editor Amy Scattergood recently featured it as Cookbook of the Week. "This is the first non-traditional kimchi that Gareth and I ever made," the authors write in the headnote. "The juicy, crunchy bok choy and radishes make it feel fresh, light and summer – quite different from the typical cabbage kimchi."

Sold! I had to try it.

It's a good introduction to basic kimchi prep. First you trim, wash and brine the bok choy and radishes. The brine is just a mix of salt and sugar you toss the vegetables in, and let them sit for half an hour. Meanwhile, you make a "glue" – a spicy kimchi base you then rub all over the veg. Following the instructions as published, though, I didn't have nearly enough glue to rub all over the copious amount of bok choy, so in my adaptation, I upped the yield of the glue by fifty percent. It's a lot of bok choy when it's raw, but it shrinks way down, and you'll be happy to have lots.

Another little issue: The instructions say that you can eat it immediately, but that it's "best after it has had 3 or 4 days at room temperature to ferment," after which you can store it in the refrigerator. Unfortunately, no instructions were provided on how to do that. I will figure that out later, and let you know. 

Meanwhile, It's really good, so I wanted you to have it right away. I tasted it immediately, as soon as I was done rubbing the ingredients all over – good. Then I covered it in plastic wrap and let it sit overnight in the fridge. The next day it was really good. Refreshing, spicy, fun and yes – ideal for summer. I think you'll love it. Do let us know!