Ponytail Radish Kimchi, Chonggak Kimchi
Chonggak kimchi (ponytail radish kimchi) is one of the Korea's most loved kimchi. Where does the name come from? Chonggak means bachelor in Korean. Nope, it’s not called “bachelor kimchi” because the radish looks like a male organ. In the old days, young men wore long braids until they got married. Because the long stems of the radish resemble the braids, they started to call this type of radish "chong-gak mu” ("bachelor radish" in Korean). Chonggak mu's alternate name is altari mu. So, this kimchi can also be called altari kimchi.
The combination of a crunchy radish and soft yet pleasantly chewy stems makes this kimchi unique and tasty. Chonggak kimchi can be served with any meal but it is exceptionally good with soups. Chonggak kimchi tastes best when it is well-fermented since the radish can be spicy and bitter before fermentation. Good chong-gak kimchi truly is a “rice thief” (a Korean expression meaning the food is so good that so much rice can be consumed along with it.)
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Buy Kimchi ingredients online here.
|3 lb||ponytail radish 총각무|
|⅓ cup||Coarse Sea Salt 굵은 소금|
|2 tsp||Sweet rice flour 찹쌀가루|
|½ cup||Water 물|
|⅓ cup||Gochugaru, Korean Hot Pepper Flakes 고추가루|
|2 tbs||Shrimp Fish Sauce (Sae Woo Jeot) 새우젓 (You can use anchovy fish sauce instead or a mix of the two)|
|3 tbs||Sugar 설탕|
|3||Green Onion 파|
|2 tsp||Garlic (minced) 다진 마늘|
|½ tsp||Ginger (minced) 다진 생강|
- 1 large bowl for brining process
- 1 large strainer for draining water
- 1 small-medium pot to make flour mix
- 1 medium to large bowl for seasoning
- 1 large bowl or tray used in applying seasoning on the napa cabbage
- 1 pair of rubber gloves for kimchi making
- 1 kimchi container (earthenware, glass bottle, stainless or plastic container with a lid)
Buy Probiotic Fermentation Kimchi Container here.
Buy Gluten Free, Chemical Free Kimchi here.
Optional Ingredients and Substitution
-You can use only one type of fish sauce if you don't have both shrimp and anchovy fish sauces.
-For vegans and vegetarians, just skip fish sauce. For a deeper flavor, you can use kelp and/or shiitake mushroom broth instead of water when you make the rice flour mix. You can also add a little bit of ground apple to add extra flavor.
Good to Know
Use rubber gloves!
Use clean food-safe rubber cloves for brining cabbages and applying seasoning. Otherwise, your hands will sting from salt and chili peppers.
You can use different proportions of Anchovy Fish Sauce and Shrimp Fish sauce, depending on your preference. Personally, I like an even half-half mix. In southern parts of Korea, people use more anchovy fish sauce. I find using too much anchovy fish sauce makes kimchi too fishy and bitter. Other types of fish sauce are used in different parts of Korea, but shrimp and anchovy fish sauces are the most common.
Kimchi Seasoning Leftover
If you have made more seasoning than you need, you can freeze the seasoning. When the next round of kimchi comes around, thaw the seasoning in the fridge overnight and use it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I have to use Coarse sea salt ?
You can use kosher salt. But, coarse ones are better than fine ones. If the particles are too small, it may speed up the brining process too much that the texture of kimchi may not be as crispy.
We don’t recommend using table salt (iodized salt) because iodine prevents fermentation and the texture and the color of kimchi may not turn out right.
You can buy coarse sea salt from local Korean market or order online here.
How long should I ferment kimchi for?
Fermentation time depends on temperature and the amount of salt in the kimchi. A lower temperature and smaller amount of salt will make the fermentation process slower. They say slowly fermenting kimchi at 5-10℃ (41-50°F) for 15-20 days results in the most tasty kimchi.
The duration of fermentation also depends on your personal preference. Some people like fresh (almost unfermented) kimchi. Some like it very fermented and sour.
I personally like my kimchi fermented to medium sourness. I leave it out in room temperature for 2-3 days. The best way is to leave it out and taste it every day. When it reaches your preference, put it in the refrigerator. If you made a large amount, you can leave some out and store the rest in the fridge right away. Then, take some out later for more fermentation as needed.
Remember that kimchi will produce gas and liquid as it is fermented. Leave some room in the container, or it will overflow.
How should I store my kimchi and how long does it last?
Traditionally, kimchi was stored in earthenware called "Ong-gi." Ong-gi (Onggi) is breathable pottery that keeps kimchi and other fermented foods in an optimal condition. In the old days, Koreans used to make kimchi in the fall, then place it in an ong-gi and bury the ong-gi underground to keep the kimchi throughout the winter.
Today, most Koreans use plastic containers to store Kimchi, and keep the containers in a specialized Kimchi fridge. Kimchi fridges keep kimchi at an optimal temperature, and keeps your regular fridge free of the potent kimchi smell. You can buy a specialized kimchi container here.
If you don't have any of the above, place the kimchi in a tightly sealed container and keep in the fridge. See below to learn how to prevent kimchi from getting moldy.
Kimchi can last 6 months or longer in the fridge but it may get sour in taste. Sour kimchi is perfect for making kimchi stew, kimchi pancakes, kimchi fried rice, etc. If you add fresh seafood such as oyster to kimchi, it's better to consume the kimchi within a month.
I got white mold on my kimchi. Is that normal? What should I do?
Getting molds on kimchi is not ideal. This can happen when kimchi is directly exposed to air as it's fermenting. When you place kimchi in a container, make sure you press down firmly to get rid of any air between kimchi. (Do this every time you take out kimchi from a container that contains a large amount of kimchi.) Then, cover the top with a plastic sheet or saran wrap before closing the lid. Finally, make sure the lid is on properly. To make this easy, you can buy a specialized kimchi container instead.
Another reason for mold to appear is that you don't have enough salt or kimchi sauce/seasoning for the cabbages. During the fermentation, liquid is produced and cabbages get submerged in the liquid. Not having enough seasoning may produce too little liquid. Some people like to pour some water in the container before fermenting.
They say white mold is not harmful. So if it's only on the very top, you can get rid of the top layer and save the rest of the kimchi. But if you don't want to take a risk, you may want to use the rest for cooking stew, soup or fried rice. If you get different colored (green or black) mold, it's definitely bad for you.
More questions? Please leave your questions below in the comment section. We will do our best to answer as soon as we can.
Ingredient amounts in the recipe instructions are for the default serving size.
Click to enlarge photos.
Ingredient amounts in the recipe summary are for the default serving size.
1. Cut off the root
Cut off the root.
2. Remove dirt
Remove dirt from the area where the stems connect to the radish by using a knife.
3. Clean surface
Scrape the surface of radish with the edge of a knife (or rough scrub) to remove dirt. Cut off yellow leaves and the outer stems that look tough. Cut long stems in half.
Cut off yellow leaves & tough stems
Cut long stems in half
4. Cut radish
Cut the large radishes in half length-wise.
Cut in half if too big
Quickly rinse everything with water and drain water but don’t completely dry the radishes. Then, place the ponytail radishes in a large bowl and sprinkle ⅓ cup of salt. Mix everything well by hand. Wear rubber gloves so your hands don’t sting. *See tips for an alternative brining method.
6. Brine 2
Let it sit for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, turn over the ponytail radishes and leave them for another 30 minutes. (Total brining time is 60 minutes.) This helps the ponytail radishes to be evenly salted. Depending on the quality of the ingredients and the weather, brining time may vary. When the radishes are properly brined, they should bend without any resistance.
Let it sit 30 min
Turn over radishes
Let it sit 30 min
7. Wash & drain
Wash each radish thoroughly 2-3 times. Wash the stems more throughly because they absorb much more salt than the root part. Drain all the water out by letting them sit in a strainer for an hour.
Wash 2-3 times
Drain 60 min
8. Make flour mix
Mix ½ cup of cold water with 2 teaspoons of sweet rice flour (or regular flour) without any lumps. Cook on medium heat while stirring until it reaches “cream soup like” consistency. Take it off the heat and leave it for at least 30 min.
Cook Med Heat about 5 min
Cool down 30 min
9. Add red chili pepper flakes
Add ⅓ cup of red chili pepper flakes (gochugaru) into the flour mix. (If you can’t take very spicy food, reduce the amount of red chili pepper flakes to ½ to ⅔ of the called for amount.) Mix thoroughly. Let it sit for about 20 min to get more vibrant color (optional).
Leave 20 min
10. Cut green onions
Wash and cut 3 green onions into halves lengthwise. These green onions don’t go into the seasoning directly. They will be used when you apply seasoning to the radishes.
Wash & cut 5 green onions
11. Mince garlic & ginger
Mince about 2-3 cloves of garlic to yield 2 teaspoons. Mince ginger to yield ½ teaspoon
12. Make seasoning
In a medium bowl, mix 3 tablespoons of shrimp fish sauce (or anchovy fish sauce), minced garlic, minced ginger and sugar into the flour and gochugaru (red chili flakes) mix. You can use only one kind of fish sauce if you like. (e.g., If you only have anchovy fish sauce, use 6 tbs anchovy fish sauce instead of 3 tbs of anchovy sauce and 3 tablespoons of shrimp fish sauce.
13. Apply seasoning
In large bowl, place some seasoning at the bottom. Place the radishes on top. Then, mix the seasoning with the radishes and the stems. Don’t pour all the seasoning at once in case there is too much seasoning for the amount of radish. Leave a small bit of seasoning for green onions.
Mix seasoning with radishes & stems
14. Season green onions
In a bowl, mix halved green onions with a little bit of the seasoning.
In a bowl
Mix green onions with seasoning
Pick up one radish. Add 1-2 green onion halves to the stem bundle. Fold the stems nicely and tie the bundled stems around with one of the stems. Repeat this for each radish. This is a traditional way. But, to save time and effort, you can chop green onions and add them to the seasoning. Then, mix radishes with seasoning and place them in a container without this bundling process.
Add 1-2 green onion halves to stems
Tie around with a stem
Repeat for each
16. Place in container
Place them in a container with a good seal. Do not completely fill the container and place a tray below the container. It can overflow as it produces liquid while fermenting. Once the container is filled, use your hand to pat down on kimchi so that it is tightly packed in the container.
Cover the top with a plastic sheet (cling wrap). Close the lid. If you are making a small amount and will be eating it in a week or two, you don’t have to cover with a plastic sheet. The plastic sheet keeps the air out so it reduces a chance of getting molds. Alternatively, you can use a specialized Kimchi container with a vacuum seal. You can buy the container here.
Cover with plastic sheet
Close the lid
Leave it out in room temperature for a day or two for proper fermentation until it has a sour taste you like. (If you are not eating it soon, refrigerate immediately. Then, leave it out a day or two when you want to ferment it further.) If you have time, you can ferment the kimchi slowly in the refrigerator but this can take a few weeks.
After they are fermented, keep them in the fridge. This kimchi lasts for a few weeks when refrigerated. You can keep it longer but it may taste too sour.
Store in the fridge
Serve as a side dish. You can cut stems into shorter lengths. The radish part is usually served as it is but you can cut them into smaller pieces for convenience.