Dongch’imi, Radish Kimchi Soup
Dongch’imi is a soupy kimchi. It is one of the three most popular kimchi, along with Whole Cabbage Kimchi and Cubed Radish Kimchi. The main ingredient must be mu, the Korean variety radish that is tangy, sweet and firm bodied. Only mu will withstands heavily salted water and sustain its crispness during fermentation. Besides as a soup, dongchimi juice has many uses in the Korean kitchen. Most notably, it is used in making the stock for Naengmyun, Chilled Buckwheat Noodles. The juice is also a favorite drink when eating Korean rice cakes.
Makes 8 quarts
1 hour to prepare and 2 to 3 weeks to mature
3 pounds mu (Korean radishes), about 1 ½ – pounds each, about 3-inches in diameter and 6-inches long
2 cups coarse sea salt, or more if needed
12 whole green onions
½ pound mustard greens
4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
2 ounces fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
1 Korean pear, peeled, quartered and cored
4 stalks chonggak (green seaweed)
3 fresh hot red peppers
3 Pickled Hot Green Peppers
Wash and scrub the radish skin with a vegetable brush. Leave them soaking in the water. In a shallow bowl, sprinkle 1-cup salt on the bottom evenly, and roll each wet radish in it until it is thoroughly coated with salt. Transfer the radishes to an 8-quart wide mouthed jar. Seal with plastic cover and set aside.
After 2 to 3 days, place the green onions and mustard greens in a bowl, sprinkle with ½ cup of salt, and let sit for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, remove the salted radishes from the jar and place them in another bowl. Strain the salt water remaining in the jar through a sieve into a 3- or 4-quart saucepan. Dissolve the remaining ½ cup salt into 10 cups of water and add it to a saucepan. Gently boil for 10 minutes and let cool.
Place the garlic and ginger in a cheese cloth pouch and place it at the bottom of the jar. Add the salted radishes. Tie the green onions into a knot and place them on top of the radishes. Do the same with the mustard green. Add the pear, chunggak, fresh red peppers, and pickled green peppers. Pour the salt water into the jar. Be sure the radishes are completely immersed in the juices. Be sure to leave at least 2- inch headspace. Weigh them down with a heavy object. You can do as Koreans do. Use a clean and sterilized heavy rock as a weight. Close the lid tight. Let mature at room temperature for 2 to 3 weeks. Store in the refrigerator. The kimchi soup will stay fresh for many months.
Vegetarian recipe: This kimchi uses salt, not salted shrimp. It is a vegetarian recipe. In the Southern regions of Korea, they also add rare fruits such as yuza, Asian citrus or pomegranates.