Swede kimchi
Monday, 1st April 2024 by Clare Heal
swede kimchi by clare heal sycamore smyth

A flavour-packed and gut-friendly recipe from chef and fermentarian Clare Heal aka Sycamore Smyth, who picks her GC bag up at Finsbury Park every week. 

This is a version of kkakdugi, a type of kimchi usually made with diced radish. Here I’ve swapped the radish for super-seasonal swede. It has a denser, earthier crunch but is still delicious. It’s great with all sorts of things but I particularly like it with rice and a fried egg for a quick WFH lunch. 

swede kimchi rice fried egg by Clare Heal Sycamore Smyth


1 medium swede
2 tbsp flaky sea salt
1⁄2 inch ginger
6 cloves garlic
4 spring onions
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp gochugaru Korean chilli flakes (or to taste)
3 tbsp fish sauce (for a veggie option, replace with 2 tbsp light soy sauce and 1 tbsp miso)



Use a scrupulously clean glass or ceramic jar with an airtight lid. One medium-sized swede filled a 750ml jar. 

Peel the swede and chop into 2cm cubes. Keep the top – we’ll use it later as a pickle weight. Put the cubes in a bowl and add the salt. Toss well to combine evenly then leave for an hour or so. The salt will draw water from the swede, which will dissolve and form a brine.

Drain the swede, reserving the brine. 

Finely chop or mince the garlic and ginger. Thinly slice the spring onions (whites and greens). 

Put the garlic, ginger and onions in the bowl that previously contained the swede. Add the sugar, chilli flakes and fish sauce (or veggie equivalent) and mix everything to a loose paste. Add a little of the reserved brine if it seems a bit dry. Have a taste – it’ll be pretty in-your-face, but should be fairly delicious, even before fermentation has taken place. Spicy, savoury and sweet. Adjust the chilli levels if you like. 

Add the swede to the paste and toss so every cube is evenly coated, then pack the kimchi into your jar, pushing it down to eliminate as much air as possible. Add your swede top to keep it packed down and seal the jar. Place it on a plate or tray to catch any leakage and leave at room temperature, out of direct sunlight.

Check the kimchi every day, opening the jar to let the gas escape and tasting a little bit. It will be pretty active in the first couple of days so be careful when opening it. Don’t wear your best white blouse! 

When it is as sour and funky as you like (anywhere from 2/3 days to 2/3 weeks), move it to the fridge. This won’t stop the fermentation but will slow it right down. The kimchi will keep in the fridge indefinitely, becoming sourer and softer over time. Eat it as a side dish or add to spicy stews and stir fries. 



You’ll find the Korean chilli flakes in almost any Asian supermarket or can easily get them online. 

If you want a more slaw-like consistency you can grate or shred the swede before salting.

You can use this basic recipe with any veg you like. If you experiment with the contents of your Growing Communities bag, let me know how you get on!

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Author name: 
Clare Heal