One of the most popular Korean side dishes, this Korean radish salad (musaengchae) is incredibly moreish! Crunchy and spicy, it is so easy to make at home. Once you start, it’s very hard to stop!
- Why You’ll Love This Salad
- What Is Musaengchae?
- What Does Korean Radish Taste Like?
- How Long Can You Keep Musaengchae?
- What Other Saengchae Side Dishes Are There?
- Recipe Overview
- Variations and Substitutions
- Great Mains for This Salad
- Frequently Asked Questions
- More Korean Side Dishes Recipes (Banchan 반찬)
Why You’ll Love This Salad
Of all the Korean side dishes (banchan) that I have tried (trust me, there have been a lot), this spicy Korean radish salad is my absolute favourite.
I have made and tried both the vegan and pescatarian versions, and I have to say I love the vegan version more. Hence I am showing you how to make it without the fish sauce or the pungent salted shrimp.
Korean radishes are crunchy, sweet and peppery. It’s amazing how you can transform something so simple, without putting it through a cooking process, into a side dish that is so savoury, spicy and flavoursome with just a few basic ingredients.
This is so easy to make. No cooking required. You’re just slicing the Korean radish, mixing ingredients and giving them a good toss.
What Is Musaengchae?
“Mu” is the Korean word for radish (daikon). “Saengchae” is a generic term for salad or raw vegetables.
Like most recipes, over time, we create many different versions of the same dish. As mentioned above, this version is vegan.
For a pescatarian version, you can add fish sauce or salted shrimp. If you can’t handle the spice, make it a sweet and sour version of musaengchae by adding more sugar and vinegar.
Musaengchae is the closest Korean banchan in flavour to kimchi, so it’s a great alternative if you need one. They both have this signature Korean red but musaengchae, unlike kimchi, is not fermented.
What Does Korean Radish Taste Like?
The quintessential flavour of any radish is that it is peppery and sometimes even a little spicy. The different types of radishes have varying levels of peppery flavours. Korean radishes also have a hint of sweetness, and when braised or added to soup, they are very sweet!
How Long Can You Keep Musaengchae?
You can keep musaengchae for about 4 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Note that the radish may water over time, so be sure to drain the liquid before serving. Always bring Korean banchan to room temperature before serving.
What Other Saengchae Side Dishes Are There?
If you would like to try different Korean salads, you can try this recipe with cucumber, lettuce or cabbage. You can even make this with jellyfish, which to me sounds amazing!
Flavour/Texture: This Korean radish is crunchy in texture and spicy in flavour. The garlic and ginger provide quintessential Asian flavours, while the sugar helps to balance it all out.
Ease: The trickiest part of this whole recipe is cutting the Korean radish into matchsticks. If you have a mandoline, however, it will make your life a lot easier. First, slice them thinly and then cut them into thin strips. Otherwise, the rest of the recipe is just mix and toss. No cooking required!
Time: The recipe calls for about 40 minutes, but 30 minutes is actually idle. We need to add salt to the Korean radish strips to draw out as much moisture as possible so that it is crunchy and doesn’t turn the radish salad wet.
Ingredients you will need to make Korean Radish Salad – Musaengchae.
Korean radish: Korean radish is a smaller, stout and stumpy version of normal daikon radish. If you can find Korean radish, a regular daikon radish will suffice, except that they are always so big!
So, either you make an extra spicy radish salad, or you can use the extra daikon to make Korean radish soup or Korean pickled radish banchan called chicken-mu. We have a recipe to show you how.
Salt: Required to draw out the water from the Korean radish to become crunchier and not become too wet later on.
Scallion or green onion: Korean’s love adding scallions or green onion to their Korean side dishes. I like to make a batch of them at once so that I can use up all the ingredients. Always hard to finish an entire bunch at one go. By making several Korean side dish recipes, I tend to put them to good use!
Minced garlic: I can’t live without my garlic press when a recipe calls for minced garlic. Important that it is minced as it needs to have an even and subtle spread across the spicy radish salad. We don’t want rogue chunks of garlic that can be quite overpowering.
Grated ginger: Love the smells of grated ginger. It starts when you’re scraping the skin off with a teaspoon. Adds so much depth of flavour to any recipe.
Gochugaru: To create that signature Korean red, we use gochugaru (Korean red chili pepper or chili pepper flakes). Gochugaru is sun-dried red peppers that have consistency between flakes and finely ground powder.
Sugar: Helps to add some sweetness to the spicy radish salad recipe.
Sesame seeds: Just get the toasted sesame seeds from the Korean supermarket. It will save you from having to toast it yourself. Very handy to have in your pantry for so many other recipes.
Step by step instructions for how to make Korean Radish Salad – Musaengchae.
Peel the Korean radish. Using a mandoline, slice 2cm thick and then cut them into matchsticks.
Add ½ tsp of salt to the Korean radish coat well. This will help draw out the water. Place in a colander or sieve and place over a prep bowl to allow the water to drip through for 30 minutes.
Chop the whole scallion or green onion.
Mince the garlic finely, or you can use the Korean minced garlic in a jar.
Grate the ginger to yield ½ tsp.
Place all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and toss well.
Variations and Substitutions
Pescatarian version: This is a vegan version of the musaengchae. If you prefer, you can create a pescatarian version by adding 1 tbsp of Korean fish sauce (myulchi aekjeot) or Korean salted shrimp (saeujeot).
Korean radish replacement: You will be able to find Korean radish in the Korean supermarket. If not, you can just get a regular white radish (daikon). However, they are always really big, so by gauging the size you’re able to get compared to the size of a Korean radish, adjust the servings accordingly.
Scallions or green onions? You can use either scallion or green onions. Korean love to use green onions but try selecting ones with a small bulb so as not to make the salad overly pungent.
Pre-packed garlic: You can mince your own garlic or get the Korean minced garlic from the Korean supermarket or the Asian aisle of your supermarket. Really useful if you’re intending on making a big batch of Korean side dishes.
Gochugaru substitute: If you can’t find gochugaru to give the radish salad that quintessential Korean red, you can mix some familiar ingredients together, although it won’t really be the same.
If you wish to try, I recommended 2 parts cayenne pepper to 1 part smoky paprika. If not spicy enough, add some chili flakes to the mix.
Great Mains for This Salad
How to serve Korean Radish Salad – Musaengchae.
Samgyeopsal gui (grilled pork strips): A truly famous dish, synonymous with Korea cuisine, samgyeopsal is usually served up with an array of Korean banchan. Samgyeopsal is unmarinated, grilled strips of pork belly. Once grilled, they are then dipped into a seasoning of salt and pepper with sesame oil and then wrapped in lettuce with garlic and green onion.
Bibimbap: Bibimbap means “mixed rice with meat and assorted vegetables”. Served on rice, it is one of the best ways to use up leftover Korean banchan and meat after a big night of Korean BBQ.
Kimchi-jjigae: Nothing quite like a steaming hot bowl of Korean kimchi stew. Made with slices of pork, kimchi and hot pepper paste, it’s hearty, spicy and morerish. You can have it on its own or over rice served alongside some Korean side dishes to help cool down
Frequently Asked Questions
Daikon is the Japanese word for white radish. Many people think that daikon is a type of radish, so you may have heard people call it daikon radish. When, in fact, they are one and the same thing.
Daikon is a much larger version of the smaller, stout Korean radish. You can most definitely use it for this radish daikon recipe.
Yes, you can eat Korean radish raw. It is crunchy, peppery and you’ll find that it also has a hint of sweetness. You can slice them carpaccio thin or into matchsticks and add them to salads. They maintain their shape well and are quite hardy to toss and mix.
Korean radishes are widely used in Korean cuisine. You can use leftovers to make Korean pickled radishes (chicken-mu), Korean pickled daikon (danmuji) or Korean beef radish soup (sogogi muguk).
If you like, you can just add them to a vegetable broth or cut them into small pieces and add them to a stir fry with chicken or pork.
This simple vegan musaengchae is absolutely delicious. Nothing quite beats eating it with a bowl of steaming hot rice. As one of the more popular Korean side dishes, it’s always better to make it fresh at home for everyone to indulge!
More Korean Side Dishes Recipes (Banchan 반찬)
Here are more Korean side dishes you can make at in the comfort of your own kitchen:
- Korean Cucumber Salad – Oi Muchim (오이무침)
- Korean Spinach Side Dish – Sigeumchi Namul (시금치나물)
- Korean Radish Salad – Musaengchae (무생채)
- Korean Zucchini Side Dish – Hobak Bokkeum (호박 볶음)
- Korean Steamed Eggplant Side Dish – Gaji Namul (가지 나물)
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Korean Radish Salad – Musaengchae (무생채)
Click on the toggle below for conversion to US Cooking Units.
- Peel the Korean radish. Using a mandoline, slice 2cm thick and then cut them into matchsticks.
- Add ½ tsp of salt to the Korean radish coat well. This will help draw out the water. Place in a colander or sieve and place over a prep bowl to allow the water to drip through for 30 minutes.
- Chop the whole scallion or green onion.
- Mince the garlic finely, or you can use the Korean minced garlic in a jar.
- Grate the ginger to yield ½ tsp.
- Place all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and toss well.
- This is a vegan version of the musaengchae. If you prefer, you can create a pescatarian version by adding 1 tbsp of Korean fish sauce (myulchi aekjeot) or Korean salted shrimp (saeujeot).
- You will be able to find Korean radish in the Korean supermarket. If not, you can just get a regular white radish (daikon). However, they are usually really big so by gauging the size you can get compared to the size of a Korean radish, adjust the servings accordingly.
- You can use either scallion or green onions. Korean love to use green onions but try selecting ones with a small bulb so as not to make the salad overly pungent.
- You can mince your own garlic or get the Korean minced garlic from the Korean supermarket or the Asian aisle of your supermarket. Really useful if you’re intending on making a big batch of Korean side dishes.
- If you can’t find gochugaru to give the radish salad that quintessential Korean red, you can mix some familiar ingredients together, although it won’t really be the same. If you wish to try, I recommended 2 parts cayenne pepper to 1 part smoky paprika. If not spicy enough, add some chili flakes to the mix.
*Disclaimer: Nutritional information provided is an estimate only and generated by an online calculator.
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