I am going to start the new year with this simple Korean radish side dish. Musaengchae (무생채) is a salad like dish that’s made with julienned radish. Typically, it’s made spicy with gochugaru (red chili pepper flakes) and other seasonings such as garlic, saewujeot (salted shrimp), and/or fish sauce. Sometimes, sugar and vinegar are added. This recipe is a mild variation that’s simply seasoned with sugar, vinegar, and a little bit of salt. You might have had it at some Korean restaurants. This crunchy, sweet and sour dish is simply refreshing! It goes especially well with the meat dishes such as galbi and bulgogi.
Korean radish has firm crisp flesh and a slightly sweet and peppery taste. It’s a cold weather vegetable, so the radish tastes best in late fall and winter. This dish is simply seasoned, so it’s important to start with a tasty radish.
You can add a little bit of finely ground red chili pepper flakes (gochugaru) to add a little bit of a reddish color, but this step is optional. If you don’t have finely ground chili flakes, finely mince the red chili pepper flakes you have with a knife on a cutting board. You can also mix it with a little bit of water to dissolve, and then run it through a strainer.
- 1 pound Korean radish (mu)
- 1 small carrot
- 3 tablespoons vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon red chili pepper flakes, gochugaru, (finely ground) - optional (see note)
- Clean the radish and carrot by scrubbing with a brush and/or scratching off the stubborn impurities with a small knife. Cut into match sticks. You can use a mandoline if you have one. Use the thickest blade.
- Add all the remaining ingredients. Mix well by hand until the sugar is dissolved and the radish is evenly coated with the gochugaru (if using). Taste and add more vinegar or sugar to your liking.
- Let sit for at least 30 minutes before serving. It will taste better the next day.
- If unavailable, you can finely mince the coarse red chili pepper flakes with a knife on a cutting board. You can also mix it with a little bit of warm water to dissolve, and then run it through a strainer before mixing it with radish.