One 1-gallon jar or air-tight non-reactive container.
2poundsKorean white radish, mu
2tablespoonscoarse sea saltless if smaller grain salt
1/2poundnapa cabbagetender inner parts - optional
1tablespooncoarse sea salt
2green and/or red chili peppersthinly sliced
2scallionscut into about1-inch lengths
1small Asian pear or applepeeled and cored
5 to 7plump garlic cloves
1/4small onionoptional for additional tartness
1tablespoonglutinous rice powderto make a paste with 1 cup water
9cupswaterfor the brine
about 2 tablespoons sea saltIf using smaller grain salt like kosher salt or table salt, use less.
If you're using cabbage, start with it first because the cabbage takes longer to be salted. Cut each leaf of the cabbage into 2-inch long and 1/2 - 1-inch pieces.
Dissolve the salt in a cup of water and pour over the cabbage. Stir to coat the cabbage pieces with the salt water. Let sit for a couple of hours until softened. Rotate the bottom ones to the top once or twice midway through the process. Rinse and drain.
Clean the radishes by scrubbing with a brush and/or scratching off the impurities with a small knife. Peel the skin only if necessary. The skin is packed with nutrients. Cut each radish crosswise into about 2-inch logs. Then cut each log into 1/2-inch thick pieces and then each piece into 1/2-inch thick sticks, placing in a large bowl.
Sprinkle the salt and sugar over the radishes and toss well to coat evenly. Let sit for about 30 - 40 minutes until the radish sticks have softened and released some liquid. Drain, saving the liquid to add to the brine later. Do NOT rinse.
Whisk together the glutinous rice powder and 1 cup of water, and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens into a thin paste. Set aside to cool.
Place the pear (or apple), garlic, ginger and optional onion in the blender. Add 1/2 cup water. Puree it as fine as possible. Run it through a fine strainer to remove any leftover solids, if desired.
To make the brine, add 9 cups of water to the reserved liquid from salting the radish. Stir in the salt, aromatic vegetable puree, and glutinous rice paste. Stir well to dissolve the salt. (Start with a smaller amount of salt, taste after stirring before adding more salt.)
Place the salted radish and cabbage in a jar or air-tight container. Add the scallion and peppers. Pour the brine over. Stir well together. Taste the brine. Add more salt if necessary. If the brine is too salty, add more water to dilute. It should be a tad salty to eat as is.
Leave it out at room temperature for a full day or two until bubbles rise through the brine. Taste again and add more salt if necessary or add more water if too salty. Then, store in the fridge. Although you can start eating it any time at this point, it will need about a week or two in the fridge to fully develop the acidic, tangy flavors. It keeps well for several weeks in the fridge. Stir from the bottom each time you ladle the broth from the jar or container to serve.
Make baechu guk with the leftover cabbage. If omitting, use 1/2 pound more radish.