Ponytail Radish Kimchi (Chonggak Kimchi)

Ponytail Radish Kimchi (Chonggak Kimchi)

Korean radishes, mu, come in many shapes and sizes: from football-size for dongchimi kimchi, to bell-shaped ones, pickling cucumber sizes and the size of a baby’s pinkie. They all have a long rat tail. Up until the end of the nineteenth century, all unmarried Korean youths, both boys and girls, had their hair done in long braids, hence the name. Mu has a crisp, sweet and firm skin with a tangy flavor. Chonggak kimchi is very popular, with its riotously flame-red color, multitude of flavors and finally its crunchy bites. At first, the initial shock of its heat may make your hair stand on end. But the result is one of the tastiest and most nutrition-packed kimchi. This Chonggak kimchi is also called altari kimchi or dallangmu kimchi (meaning bell-shaped kimchi.)

Makes 8 quarts

One hour to prepare and 3 days to mature



4 pounds small finger-size radishes, with green leaves attached

3 tablespoons sea salt

2 tablespoons sweet rice flour

2 tablespoons saeu chot, finely chopped

9 tablespoons kochu’garu or to taste

6 regular green onions, white and pale green parts only, cut into ½ -inch pieces

6 cloves garlic, skinned and grated

2 ounces mustard greens, cut into 1/2 –inch pieces

5 walnut halves, finely chopped

2 tablespoons wild sesame seeds, toasted

2 ounces fresh ginger, skinned and grated

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

½ cup sugar or to taste



Wash and scrub the radish skin with a vegetable brush. Soak in cold water. In a shallow and wide bowl, sprinkle the salt on the bottom and roll each radish in it until thoroughly coated. Let salt for about 2 hours. In a small saucepan, dissolve the sweet rice flour into 3 cups water. Bring to a boil and decrease the heat to medium-low. Gently cook for 2 minutes, until it becomes a white paste, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Let cool. In a large mixing bowl, combine sweet rice flour paste, saeu chot and gochu’garu. Mix well. Add the remaining ingredients except the radishes and some mustard greens. Toss well. Add the radishes and coat each with the mixture. Transfer into a 8 quart wide mouthed jar with screw top lid. Add a little water to the bowl and wipe clean the remaining bits of spices with the reserved mustard greens and add to the jar. Make sure all are immersed in its juices. Leave 2-inch headspace. Close the lid tight and double wrap in plastic wraps. Let mature at room temperature for 3 days. Transfer to the refrigerator. It will remain fresh for a month or more.

Vegetarian recipe: To make thin kimchi strictly vegetarian, replace salted shrimps with 1 tablespoon fine sea salt.