Super easy refreshing pickled white radish is delicious paired with Korean BBQ for a tangy and crunchy but savory and smokey bite!
It’s almost summer time which means time for Korean BBQ! Though, Korean BBQ can be enjoyed all year around, right? In the winter, I’m happy eating my grilled pork belly wrapped in lettuce or perilla leaves but in the summer, I really crave the tangy and refreshing pickled radish to wrap around my grilled meats. But they are so expensive at H-Mart. Unless I’m really craving it or having friends over, I can’t really justify the cost of $4 for a tiny little package. So I had an epiphany (?) and went about making it myself! Radish is relatively inexpensive and the steps here are so easy!!
So, what is this? Ssam mu is pickled Korean radish that is in the form of very thin slices.
Ssam = Wrap
Mu = Radish
So, ssam mu literally translates to wrap radish. The thin circular slices also make it the perfect vehicle for wrapping Korean BBQ meats like beef bulgogi, pork bulgogi (spicy or soy sauce based) with my favorite being Korean pork belly. It tastes delicious with both simply grilled samgyupsal (pork belly) or roasted pork belly. The smokey and slightly burnt edges make a great contrast to the sweet and tangy brine. I also love making mu-ssam mari with vegetables as an appetizer before a Korean BBQ meal. It looks pretty and so it’s great for home parties as well!
How do you make this?
There are different sugar : vinegar : water ratios that are popular. Most often, the sugar : vinegar ratio is 1:1 with the water (and salt) amount varying. The most straight forward ratio is 1:1:1 but that makes the brine very sweet, tangy and powerful in flavoring. I think most of the restaurants have this strong flavor. For ssam mu, I actually prefer it a bit mellow and DrJuh seemed to as well. At times, I make it 1:1:1.5 or even 1:1:2. This allows me to enjoy both the tany and sweet taste without masking the delicious meat!
Side Note: This is the same method for making cubed pickled radish which is often referred to as “chicken mu” or chicken radish because it’s almost always delivered with Korean Fried Chicken! I recommend keeping the ratio to 1:1:1 or 1:1:1.5 but not to go as far as having the water amount be twice as much because the stronger tanginess balances well with the deep fried oil!
How to enjoy!?
Brine for about 24 hours. Take one slice of radish, place a piece of grilled meat on it, add a dollop of ssamjang (spicy BBQ sauce) and enjoy!
Ssam Mu (Pickled Korean Radish Slices)
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup vinegar **I used white vinegar
- ¾ cup water
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 1 pound radish
- Thinly cut the radish. Using a mandoline is highly recommend for easy thin and uniform slices. Place into a jar or airtight container.*I did not because ours is missing, but it was very time consuming!
- Mix the sugar, vinegar, water and salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer until all of the salt and sugar have dissolved. Pour over the radish slices.
- Allow the mixture to come to room temperature. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours.