Cucumber/Daigo Kimchee Salad
A spicy salad that is made with cucumbers, pickled radish (diago), kimchee base and vinegar.
Cucumbers were introduced to the Marianas by the Spanish (possibly during the 17th century) and have been cultivated by CHamorus for inclusion in their diet.
The radish that is included in the salad is pickled in vinegar and dyed with yellow food coloring to provide a vibrant color addition to the dish. For decades, this radish, called daikon in Japanese, has been a popular local food item mixed with vinegar and local hot peppers (donne) and sold out of village mom and pop stores in the familiar gallon-sized glass containers that sit on the check-out counter, or located in small containers in store chillers. Diago is also easily made in home kitchens and stored in glass or plastic containers. “Pickling” preserves the diago which can be stored for months in refrigerators and eaten as a side dish.
Kimchee (or kimchi) is a popular Korean side dish consisting of vegetables, including Napa cabbage, that have been fermented in chile sauce. Kimchee is also a local favorite and found in grocery stores usually pre-packaged in glass jars of varying sizes and eaten as a side dish.
The kimchee base used for the cucumber/diago kimchee salad is a product of Japan and is prepared in bottles commonly found in local grocery stores. The ingredients include garlic, ginger, salt, red pepper, glucose, bonito extract, seaweed, vinegar, citric acid, and monosodium glutamate. It is a very pungent and provides a distinct flavor in the salad.
Guam’s Japanese and Korean communities have introduced cuisine that is favored locally as evidenced by the popularity of restaurants that feature these countries’ cuisines.
The inclusion of a cucumber/daigo vegetable salad on the fiesta table is still relatively new starting to appear possibly in the 1990s. The mix produced by the spiciness and flavors of the kimchee base mixed with the mildness of the cucumbers and tang of the daigo have curried favor with the local populace.
Prior to popularity of the cucumber/daigo kimchee base mix, a dish consisting of cut cucumbers in mixture of soy sauce, vinegar, black pepper, red peppers (donne) and a dash of vegetable oil was popular at fiestas. This salad is still found on the fiesta menu and along with kimchee base recipe, some times more often than the soy sauce version. There may be multiple reasons for this: it may be more economical to purchase a small jar of kimchee base as opposed to a gallon of soy sauce and a pint of vinegar to prepare the dish. Another reason may be that flavorfulness of the kimchee base has gained favor.
Young women or girls may be put in charge of this recipe as it is relatively easy to prepare. Girls may help mothers, aunts and female cousins in the cutting of ingredients if it is for a large party. (i.e. 100 or more guests)
Placement on table
Cucumber/diago kimchee salad is found in the salad section, which is adjacent to the kelaguen section on the fiesta table. These are behind the åggon (starch) and totche (meat and proteins) section, respectively, of the table. In a large party, the kelaguen and salad section may be placed on a separate table.
By Velma Yamashita and Tanya M. Champaco Mendiola
Cucumber/Daigo Kimchee Salad
- 1 17 ounce whole pickled radish (daigo/daikon) or pre-cut for convenience
- 4 cucumbers
- 6 ounce kimchee base
- Vinegar (Same amount as kimchee base. Use the kimchee base jar to measure the vinegar.)
Cut daigo and cucumbers into 2 inch spears. Pour in kimchee base and vinegar. Mix thoroughly and let sit for at least an hour before serving
* Recipe by Antoinette Champaco