Kohlrabi Kimchi

Looking for an excellent alternative for Korean radish Kimchi (Ggakdugi)?

Then why not using Kohlrabi?

Ggakdugi is a type of Kimchi made from Korean radish. Koreans use this radish to make three different types of Kimchi. One is radish winter Kimchi in a broth called Dongchimi, the second is a mixed Kimchi called Seogbagji and the third is diced radish kimchi simply called Ggakdugi.

In times past, Korean radish was the vegetable that would be available all year-round, with the peak seasons being winter and spring. For this reason, Dongchimi was normally made in winter.

Korean radish is one of many Kimchi’s key ingredients but it is also used independently make its own specific Kimchi. This was the working-class side dish (Banchan) which was very affordable. The Korean radish stems and leaves are dried out during winter and then boiled when needed for use in the rest of seasons.

Ggakdugi wasn’t popular until 1850 which was the end of the Joseon Dynasty of period, but one of the princesses of the royal family introduced this dish in her cookery book. It was said that Ggakdugi helps our digestion and it is great for detoxing. This has actually been proved by modern science.


The Korean aristocracy didn’t eat this radish kimchi until around 1900 but the great flavour and its health benefits had been accepted. So, this dish became one of among the few dishes that were popular the dining tables of the lower classes as well as the upper classes.

There are a number of popular uses of Ggakdugi:

  • Chungmu Kimbap or simply yubu chobap
  • With SulLungTang, this is a milky broth made from ox bone and brisket meat
  • With Koran instant noodles but typically not the spicy varieties
  • As a vegan Kimchi tending not to use fish sauce popular in the Seoul area

The Korean radish is large, very firm vegetable. The top stem, the greenish part is, crunchy and crisp with a sweet, nutty taste. The bottom stem, the whitish part, is peppery and dry, not juicy. Many Koreans only eat or use the top stem for cooking and white lower part for making stock.

Mooli can substitute for Korean radish, as can daikon or UK radish but these are all watery, more mild flavoured and less crunchy than the real thing.

I’ve found that the best replacement is Kohlrabi. It is crunchy, less watery and sweet it has exactly the best characteristic qualities of Korean radish (especially like the top stem, green part). I actually really love it. It is expensive but May is the Kohlrabi harvesting season and prices should be lower.

I often buy it from the online-supermarket (Ocado) at £ 2.99 for 350g but at the Cambridge market I actually bought Kohlrabi yesterday for only £1.50. At the Cambridge Sunday market (Simon’s local vegetable stall) I expect that the price will be even cheaper. They expect to have Kohlrabi from the end of May.

I believe using local produce is the best way of getting great nutrition and freshness. No matter how good your cooking skills, if you don’t have good quality ingredients then, it is more likely that your food will fail to be tasty. I’d advise that you use Kohlrabi, even when making Korean Ggakdugi for your first time.


Temple Kimbap

Many years ago, I had a chance to learn about temple food for 2 months from a famous monk-chef in Korea. One of his teachings was what we eat and when we eat is very important.

In the morning, eat light food like porridge, for lunch have solid food, a full meal but asmall amount. For dinner in the evening eat just fruits. Eat seasonal food when you can because they are best fresh and most nutritious. Eat a little as you can and don’t eat meat.

Temple food is naturally healthy and vegetarian. It has become increasingly popular in Korea because people are concerned about their wellbeing.

Unfortunately, monks and nuns do not use onions, garlic, chives, spring onions or leeks, the most common five pungent, spicy vegetables. In Korea we call these five forbidden vegetables “o-shin-chae”. Their intense scent and spiciness may distract monks during meditation. Until recently, I always tried to avoid eating “o-shin-chae”.  I don’t why but I didn’t like their smells.

In keeping with the Buddhist principle of harmony with nature ,  Tofu is a vital source of protein for monks as well as one of the main ingredients in temple food. Seaweed has been a part of Korean diet for centuries as well as being a seasoning in temple food.



Cabbage and Carrot Kimchi

When I was young, I used live with my grandmother and saw my mother rarely. Whenever I visited to see my mother, she used to cook for me Cabbage Kimchi (with spicy chillies and vinegar ).Although I didn’t like it at that time, I remember that my mother used to tell me the health benefits of cabbage which included alleviating  constipation, skin disorders and most of all reducing excess weight. Cabbage is a inexpensive vegetable but healthy especially when you eat it raw rather than cooked.

In one recent study, short-cooked and raw cabbage was the only types of cabbage to show cancer-preventive benefits—long-cooked cabbage failed to demonstrate any measurable benefits.

Cabbage and Carrots are my main vegetable staples in my fridge. There are so many way to use these two vegetables and whenever I want to eat spicy vegetables in Cambridge I normally make this cabbage Kimchi.

If you want to try to make this dish then you need to go to the Korean supermarket  to buy  “Gochujang”. This is Korean Chilli Paste and is an essential ingredient to use in many Korean dishes.

This dish is really good with a meat or simply with a bowl of rice

Slice the cabbage (just soft side of leaves) and carrots.You need to slice them as thinly as possible to give the best taste.

Add “Gochjang” (Korean red chilli paste), sesame seeds, sesame oil, lemon juice and honey, grated garlic and pinch of white ground pepper.

Here you can see my three servings of Cabbage and Carrot Kimchi with other food ready for a small party.

You will need to buy these ingredients from a Korean supermarket:

For the Cabbage kimchi

  • 100 g finely sliced cabbage (just leaves, not stems)
  • 100 g finely sliced carrots
  • 1 tbs Gochujang
  • 1 tbs honey
  • 1 tbs toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 tbs toasted sesame oil
  • ½ tbs grated garlic
  • Pinch ground white pepper
  • Garnish with some chopped chives

Oi Muchim (Cucumber Salad with Chilli Powder)

Traditionally Korean family food has three key components in a meal: rice, soup and some side dishes  called “Banchan”.According to our traditional way of preapring meals, we usually set out either three, five,  seven or nine Banchan on our dinner table.Oi Muchim is a popular inexpensive side dish. Koreans think about balanced nutrition with their Banchan.

Therefore if you have one or two vegetable side dishes on your dinner table then you need to add one or more meat or fish side dishes too.

Oi Muchim is one of the easiest and quickest side dishes to prepare and I personally think that this is a good (very low calorie) complement to a glass of beer.

Preparation time: Less than 10 minutes

Cooking time: Less than 10 minutes


  • A large cucumber,  trimmed and sliced at 2-3 mm
  • 20g carrots trimmed finely sliced.
  • A shallot, trimmed finely sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, grated
  • 30g Romano pepper, trimmed finely sliced
  • 2/3  teaspoon,  finely chopped Thai chili
  • 1 teaspoon, sliced spring onions.
  • 1 teaspoon, sugar.
  • 1 tablespoon, toasted sesame seeds
  • 1  teaspoon,  chilli powder
  • A pinch of salt, a pinch of white pepper

Tip: You can add some honey or sesame oil if you find the taste is too salty.

How to make Oi Muchim

If you do not have Korean chilli powder then use normal chilli powder which you can buy from any supermarket.

You need to use toasted sesame seeds. Toasted sesame seeds give a nutty flavour and crispy smell too.

(You always need to toast sesame seeds before using them in any Korean food)

If you have a disposable gloves then you should wear then when mixing all ingredients together.

That’s it!

How to make Yubu Chobab (Tofu pocket fillings)

When I was a young, I studied in Tokyo for 3 years. At that time I could not eat fish or even bare the smell of fish. The only food I enjoyed to begin with was “Inarizushi” (Tofu pockets).

I did not know that this dish was so popular in Korea until I went back. You can buy a pack of tofu pockets from a Korean supermarket. They are made in both Korea and Japan.

I fill the pockets with finely chopped vegetables rather than Japanese style (Kumbu, rice vinegar, sugar, sake, mirin and etc.) This is nice served with yellow radish and chillies as in the picture.

You might need to go to a Korean supermarket to buy some of ingredients such as a pack of tofu pockets and toasted sesame seeds.

 image_thumb.pngMakes 8-10

  • Preparation time : Less than 40 minutes
  • Cooking time : Lesson than 30 minutes


  • 2 cups of cooked rice
  • 2 packs  of tofu pockets, squeezed liquid
  • 50 g trimmed and finely chopped broccoli
  • 50 g washed and finely chopped carrots
  • 50 g finely chopped  baby sweet corns
  • 50 g finely chopped Porcini or white mushrooms
  • A pinch of salt and pepper
  • A spoonful of butter to stir-fry all the vegetables.

For mixing with the rice with vegetables

  • 1 tablespoon  sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon  toasted sesame seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon cooking salt
  • A pinch of white sugar
Chop all the vegetables finely; use the broccoli heads and stems.
Place all the chopped vegetables in a dish.

Heat the frying pan for a minute on a medium heat adding a table spoonful of butter.

First stir fry the Porcini or white mushrooms for 30 seconds to dry out any water.

Secondly add the carrots, baby sweet corns and broccoli to stir fry further for just under 1 minute on a medium heat.

Add the 2 cups of cooked rice and mix thoroughly adding the sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds, cooking salt and a pinch of white sugar.

Taste the rice mixture and add salt and pepper if desired before making a tofu pocket.

Take the tofu pockets out of their packet, drain any liquid and carefully squeeze the pockets.

They are very delicate so squeeze them carefully to avoid tearing them.

Open the pockets and gently add the filling to complete this dish.

Buchu Jeon (leek and chive pancake)

It is so intriguing how similar ingredients are found in different forms of food all around the world.

Brief history

Today I am going to introduce a very nostalgic pancake that most Korean adults long for when the weather is wet and rainy. The idea of “Let’s have a Buchu Jeon” essentially means “Let’s get inside and have a drink”.

“Buchu Jeon” is a quick snack made from “Buchu” a vegetable always easily found from a street market. The flavour of Buchu resembles leeks or chives. For this reason you can use either of those together as an alternative ingredient for this dish.

Buchu is often used to make Korean dumplings (more like a spring roll) in combination with pork, shrimp and tofu.

Buchu is full of vitamins especially Vitamin A and C. Buchu cleans your kidneys and liver and is good for those in poor health according to “Dongui  Bogam”, a traditional Medical book, compiled by the Royal Physician during the Joseon  Dynasty in Korea (1546-1615).

We know today that some dark leafy greens such as spinach, broccoli etc. are the best vegetables for our kidneys.

Buchu Jeon (Jeon=pancakes) are very good eaten with Korean rice wine known as “Makgeolli” or “Takju” which is drunk at room temperature.

My version of Buchu Jeon is more colourful than the tradition and I have added chicken breast to my recipe whereas in Korea normally this is a traditional vegetarian dish but nowadays Koreans often add seafood to the pancake mix.

 Tips for this dish
If you do not want to make the batter (flour, corn flour, egg, salt, etc)  from scratch  then you might be able to buy  a pack of Pancake Mix “Bucheam garu” from a Korean supermarket. This is already seasoned and is used by most Koreans, and even restaurants, in their cooking.

All you have to do is add vegetables and water to this Pancake Mix.
You may serve Buchu Jeon with a soy based dipping sauce but I personally recommend you to eat it without. The best soy sauce would be “Ponzu” (Citron Sauce) which can also be found at a Korean supermarket.

A leek has a lot of layers on the inside. If you use leeks for this dish, do not to use the outer few layers of green leaves because they are very tough.

To begin with, finely slice the chicken breast into long, thin strips.

Prepare all the seasonings (garlic, ginger, white pepper, cooking salt and sugar) on a small plate.
Add ¼ amount of each of the seasonings to the sliced chicken breast, rubbing and mixing them all together.

Place aside whilst you prepare the vegetables.

Finely slice all the vegetables (Buchu , shallots, carrots and Romano pepper).

For the batter, combine the plain flour, rice flour and corn flour and then add an egg and ice cold water whisking thoroughly until you see no lumps.

Add the seasoned chicken strips stirring with a whisk until well mixed.

Add all the vegetables and the remainder ¾ of the seasonings and mix with a stainless steel spoon one a little bigger than a soup spoon).
Preheat a non-stick pan with a tablespoonful of oil on a low heat for a minute.

Scoop a spoonful size of the mixture and spread it thinly in the pan and fry on each side until the pancake becomes golden using between a low and medium heat for 5-10 minutes.

Do not fry on a high heat rather change the heat from medium to low and back again frequently turning over your “Buchu Jeon” frequently.

Tip: if you want to have your Buchu Jeon crisp then make sure enough oil is always in the pan.

If you have never had this dish before, you are in for a treat!

 Buchu Jeon

  • Makes 8-10
  • Preparation time :  Less than 40 minutes
  • Cooking time : Less than 30 minutes


For the chicken

  • 300 g Chicken breast, finely sliced

For the chicken and batter seasonings.

  • 1tablesppn, grated garlic
  • ½ teaspoon, ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon, white pepper
  • 2/3  teaspoon, cooking salt
  • 3 teaspoons, sugar

For the vegetable

  • 100 g Buchu  or leeks (80 g) and chives (20g), trimmed and  cut in 2-3 cm in length,
  • 2 shallots, trimmed finely sliced
  • 40 g carrots, trimmed finely sliced
  • 40 g Romano pepper, trimmed  finely sliced (option)

For the batter

  • 1egg
  • 370 ml, cold (ice) water
  • 60 ml Rice flour
  • 250 ml plain flour
  • 2 tablespoons, corn flour

For the Yangnum(for the dipping sauce)

  • 5 tablespoons, light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon, finely chopped chives
  • 1 teaspoon, white sugar
  • ½ grated garlic
  • 1 tablespoon, sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon, toasted sesame seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon, ground black pepper.

Tofu Jorim (Pan fried Tofu in Soy and Chilli Powder sauce)


Jorim refers to dishes made of meats, seafood, vegetables or tofu in a mixed sauce cooked by simmering for a time.  The sauce for Jorim is mainly  Ganjang (soy sauce). In olden times in Korea during the hot summer weather this salty soy sauce could prevent food going bad.

You can buy Tofu from any English supermarket. I bought this from Waitrose. Our local Korean supermarket sells Tofu at a better price and I think it is much firmer in texture than the Waitrose one. This dish is so easy to make and the uncooked tofu contains only around 200 calories. By comparison, same amount of beef contains around 650 calories. So you can see how healthy this dish is.

If you never made a dish using “tofu” then try this dish first. You are going to love it! Try to prepare all the ingredients before you start cooking then it is easy to follow the instructions here.

Pan Frying Tofu
Pan fry the sliced Tofu until the colour becomes golden brown on both sides.You can sprinkle a little bit of salt and black pepper seasoning if you want.
Mix all these ingredients in a bowl except the spring onions and shallots which will be added after frying the tofu.
Tofu with Onions
Then add all the spring onions and shallots like this picture.
Finally sprinkle the sauce we made and simmer them for 1-2 minutes on a medium high heat.Serve with a bowl of rice and a glass of beer for yourself! Well done!

Tofu Jorim

  • Portion : 2 – 3 people
  • Type : Entrée or side dish
  • Time : 20 minutes

Main ingredients

  • 396 g,  one pack of firm Tofu
  • 1 shallot, finely sliced
  • 1/3 cup of spring onions, chopped
  • Some olive oil or vegetable oil for pan frying

Sauce ingredients

  • 2/3 tablespoon grated garlic (2 cloves)
  • 45m water
  • 2 tablespoons, dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon, toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon, chilli powder
  • 1 tablespoon, red wine
  • 1 tablespoon, assume oil
  • 1 tablespoon, golden syrup
  • A pinch salt and white pepper if it is necessary


  1. Cut the tofu in 2 horizontal line and then slice them  into 8-10 pieces.
  2. Be preparing all the ingredients in separated bowls except some spring onions and shallots.
  3. Finely slice shallots and spring onions and be preparing them in a bowl.
  4. In a heated non-stick pan,  add 1 or 2 tablespoons of oil and then place the tofu in the pan on a medium and low heat(frequently change the heat from the low to medium or medium to low)
  5. Pan fry both side of the tofu until they become golden brown on medium low heat.
  6. Meanwhile, mix all the ingredients in a bowl except shallots and spring onions.
  7. When the tofu is golden brownish in both side then sprinkle shallots and spring onions and then lastly  the sauces.
  8. Simmering  them for 1-2 minutes on a medium heat.
  9. Serve it with a bowl of steamed rice or eat it as “ Anju”  with drinking.

Bibimbap ( Vegetarian)

Bibimbap is rice mixed with some vegetables (leek, onions, mushrooms, carrots, and courgettes) with Korean chilli pepper paste.

You can buy this chilli pepper paste from a Korean supermarket and it is around £3-5 for a small container and you can use this for many years.

Korean chilli pepper paste is the most popular Korean condiment. It is made from glutinous rice powder mixed with fermented soybeans and red peppers.