Yeolmu is young summer radish greens. It’s a variety of white radishes with tender, long greens, and a thin, small root. It’s not the top leafy part of mature white radishes or chonggak mu (young radish), which is much tougher.
Very commonly, young napa cabbage, called putbaechu or eolgari, is also added to yeolmu kimchi, giving it a different texture and flavor. I like the ratio of radish greens to young cabbage to be 2:1. You can use only the radish greens without any young cabbages.
Yeolmu kimchi (Korean Bapsang)
Look for radish greens that have slightly plump stems, not too thin and not too thick with dark green leaves. You can cut off the root part if it’s too thin and tiny, or use it if it’s big enough. They reduce in volume significantly once salted.
It’s important to handle these vegetables with gentle care. If bruised, they will develop a grassy taste (called putnae) which will linger in the kimchi.
You can also enjoy this crunchy and refreshing yeolmu kimchi in bibimbap, bibim guksu or naengmyeon. I hope you try making it while summer is still here!
2 kilograms yeolmu (young radish greens)
6 tablespoons salt
4 cups of water
1 kilogram putbaechu (young napa cabbage)
3 tablespoons salt
2 cups water
6 fresh red chili peppers
4 tablespoons gochugaru (Korean chili pepper flakes)
10 plump garlic cloves
5 centimeter-long, about 3 centimeter-round ginger
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup salted shrimp
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups of water
5 or 6 thin scallions, roughly chopped
1/2 large onion, thinly sliced
Cut off the root end of each radish if the root is thin and not usable. Otherwise, cut the thin end of the root and scrape off the impurities with a small knife. Trim off any bad leafy stems, and cut the greens into about 7-centimeter pieces. Transfer to a large bowl.
Trim off the root from each young cabbage. Cut the cabbages into about 7-centimeter pieces, and transfer to another large bowl.
Fill the bowl of greens with water. Let them sit in the water for about 10 minutes for the greens to release any dirt. Then, wash the greens a couple of times by gently shaking with your hands in the water. Drain. Do the same with the young cabbages.
Dissolve 6 tablespoons of salt in 4 cups of water in a small bowl. Placing a handful of the greens back in the large bowl, sprinkle with some salt water. Repeat the process until all the radish greens are placed in the bowl. If you run out of salt water, pour some back out of the bowl with the greens and use again. Repeat the process for the young cabbages in another bowl with 3 tablespoons of salt and 2 cups of water.
Let the vegetables sit for about 40 minutes until they become slightly flexible. Flip them over once or twice while salting.
Meanwhile, make the flour paste and cool.
Coarsely blend all the seasoning ingredients together. Combine with the flour paste.
Gently rinse the salted radish greens and cabbages separately in cold water, and drain well.
Place the radish greens and cabbages in three to four batches in the same large bowl, pouring in some seasoning mix each time. Add the scallions and onions. Toss everything very lightly by hand (use kitchen gloves), until everything is evenly coated with the seasoning.
Store in an airtight container or jar. Leave it out at room temperature for a few hours before storing in the fridge. You can start eating kimchi any time, but it will taste best after a few days in the fridge.
For more recipes, visit www.koreanbapsang.com.
By Ro Hyo-sun