What are the best Korean radish substitutes? Korean radish, also known as mu, is a crisp, peppery, slightly sweet root vegetable often used in Asian cuisines. It is a versatile vegetable and can be eaten raw or used in cooked dishes. It looks like a white plump carrot with a green tip. If you live outside of Asia, it can be challenging to find if you don’t have Asian markets nearby. Most grocery stores do not keep it in stock. But what are the best substitutes for Korean radish? There are several good options.
Daikon, also known as Japanese radish, is less peppery and a bit sweeter than Korean radish. It looks like a large white carrot. Overall, it is a great substitute for Korean radish with its similar flavor and crunchy texture. If you are making kimchi, daikon radishes will work very well in place of Korean radish.
Water Chestnuts and Jicama
Both water chestnuts and jicama can work as substitutes if you’re looking for the crunch and crisp texture of Korean radish. However, they do not have the peppery radish flavor. Jicama doesn't have much flavor at all and water chestnuts have a more earthy flavor.
A regular radish can also be substituted as it has a peppery flavor and somewhat spicy flavor when eaten raw. When cooked, radishes have a much more mellow flavor. With a similar taste, raw, red radishes are a good substitute overall.
White turnips can also be eaten raw or used in cooked dishes. They are mellower than Korean radishes but can still be used as a substitute if you aren’t looking for the peppery flavor. Turnips can work well in soup recipes.
Parsnips are another root vegetable that can work as a substitute for Korean radish. They have a similar texture but are less spicy and have a sweeter flavor. Depending on the dish, parsnips can work.
Cabbage hearts are the core of a cabbage. They have a more mild flavor than radishes but can be used as a substitute. Just remove the cabbage leaves and you'll be left with the cabbage heart which you can cut up in small pieces.
Korean radishes can be used in kimchi, salads, soups and other dishes. Kimchi is a Korean condiment/side dish with a bold and complex flavor that is one of my absolute favorite foods. It’s a combination of cabbage (often Napa cabbage), radish, chili peppers, garlic, ginger and sometimes fish sauce. If you are vegan or vegetarian, you can find kimchi without the fish sauce. My favorite brand is Mother-in-law’s Vegan Kimchi.
Kimchi is a staple in Korean cuisine as well as in my own house. It’s delicious in noodle soups, on rice, as a sandwich topper, and pretty much on anything. It has a very strong flavor so you don't need to use too much at once. It’s incredibly versatile and will liven up any dish. It naturally contains probiotics and also has a number of health benefits. To find out more, check out Healthline's 9 Surprising Benefits of Kimchi.
Korean radish is common ingredient in radish kimchi but daikon is a perfect substitute. If you are interested in making your own kimchi, check out this recipe for Easy Kimchi. I've made my own kimchi in the past but can't perfectly replicate my favorite brand so I make sure to always have a jar in the fridge.
If you’ve decided to use daikon as a substitute for Korean radish and have some left over, here are some recipes from Food and Wine for you to try.
Overall, the best option for a Korean radish substitute is daikon. Regular red radishes are also a good choice as they have a similar peppery taste. For texture only, jicama and water chestnuts can be used but they do have a much milder taste. Turnips and parsnips can also work as substitutes, especially in soup recipes. Lastly, in a pinch you can use cabbage hearts as well.