Recipe: Dongchimi (Winter Radish Kimchi) 동치미

Oops winter is near its end and I'm considerably late in posting this. But there's a smidgen of winter left in the air so...

Kimchi is enjoying a popular boom in many places around the world nowadays which goes to show it definitely is a taste that can be acquired and enjoyed. But while many people can now identify this dish of spicy, fermented leaves covered with red pepper flakes, many may be surprised to learn that among the many variations of kimchi there are some that calls for no red pepper flakes (고춧가루) at all.

The oldest forms of kimchi dates back even to the B.C. era but red pepper flakes weren't even introduced to Korea until a few centuries ago. So naturally, many of the earliest forms of kimchi didn't really resemble the crimson cabbages on Korean tables today.

Dongchimi is a popular kimchi that's consumed especially in the winter time. Its name itself translates into "winter kimchi" as "dong" is the hanja (Chinese character) for 'winter' and "chimi" is an old Korean word for 'kimchi'. Traditionally stored in big old earthenware pots in the winter, they're usually ladled out into bowls to be eaten with meals or used to make the broth for cold noodle dishes such as nengmyeon.

Despite its simple and plain appearance, dongchimi packs quite a flavorful punch with its crunchy and pickled radishes, and the cool and refreshing broth which incorporates flavors of garlic, ginger, chili peppers, apple, pear, and more. But it's still a mild enough kimchi that it can be enjoyed by those who can't eat spicy dishes.

There's a bit of prep work and waiting involved with dongchimi making but it's still a much simpler kimchi to make than its cousins and takes less time to ferment too so you can enjoy it faster.

Try it out and enjoy a traditional Korean kimchi in the winter season- just like the Koreans do.

Dongchimi (Winter Radish Kimchi)

You'll need:
 - 1 large Korean Radish (Note: I'm not radish expert, but I've read that the Korean radish variety tastes a bit different than daikon. I'm not sure the difference but to be safe you may want to pick up your Korean radish at a local Korean market. There's the smaller, palm-sized kind and the large, arm-sized kind. I used one large one but if you're using the smaller radishes, a few of them should suffice.)
- 4 tbsp of Sea Salt + 1/3 cup later and more on hand to taste
-  2 tbsp of Sugar
- 9-10 cups of Water
- 1 large Green Onion
- 1/2 a large Asian Pear
- 1 small or 1/2 a large Apple 
- 7 whole Green Chili Pepper
- 10 cloves of Garlic
- 1 nub of fresh Ginger root (about an inch long piece should do)
- Cheesecloth or Butcher's Paper
- 1 Large container/jar (plastic, glass, etc) that can hold all the ingredients above (Note: It must be able to close in an airtight manner)

1. Wash your radish thoroughly making sure all dirt has been removed.. Don't peel the radish as the skin will help give extra flavors to the broth.

Cut the radish up into rectangle sticks like below.

2. Dump the radish sticks into your container and then add the salt and sugar and mix. Close it and let it sit out on a table or slightly warm spot overnight.

3. After a night has passed, the radish sticks should have released a lot of water and give a slightly pickle-y smell which means you're ready to get started on the dongchimi broth. Wash your fruits and vegetables and peel your ginger root. Slice the ginger root and garlic cloves into rough slices (it doesn't matter if the slices aren't uniform, as the garlic and ginger won't be eaten and are strictly flavor enhancers in here). Cut your pear in half and the apple into rough quarters. Use your knife to make a few pokes into the chili peppers.

4. Add the sliced garlic and ginger to your cheesecloth and tie it up. Or, you can be ghetto like me if you don't have cheesecloth on hand and tie it up in paper foil/butcher's paper and then use a toothpick to make a few holes into the paper. The tied up garlic and ginger is going into the broth to aid in making the broth but will be thrown away later.

5. In the container with the salted radish sticks, add in all the fruit/vegetable ingredients including the tied up garlic and ginger root slices.

6. Mix the 1/3 cup of salt with the water and pour over the ingredients in the container and give everything a mix. Alternatively, you can just add the water alone and then mix in the salt, a few tablespoons at a time, to adjust the broth's saline content to your liking. The broth itself should be on the saltier side but not of course to the point it's uneatable.

7. Close the lid and leave the entire thing out in room temperature for 2 days. In Korea, this is when the heated floors (온돌 or "ondol") comes in handy :) During the next two days, the fruits and vegetables will incorporate their respective flavors into the broth as the dongchimi ferments. If you take a peek in between those two days you'll start to see bubbles form, the broth get milkier, and a nice fermented smell coming out. After two days the dongchimi should be stored in a cold place like your fridge or even outside if your neighborhood's winter is cold.

8. To eat, scoop out some of the radish sticks and broth into a bowl. You can cut up some of the chili peppers and green onion into slices and add that too. The apple, pear, garlic, and ginger, however, are not meant to be eaten and can be thrown out when the dongchimi is fermented enough to eat. Or, you can also just leave them in there until you finish :)

Tart, peppery, notes of garlic and fruit... it's a surprisingly complex flavor that pairs well with sweet vegetables like steamed sweet potatoes.

You can also make a quick noodle dish out of this called dongchimi guksu. There's variations to it but at its simplest form, just add some of the broth and radish sticks with the prepackaged nengmyeon yooksoo (nengmyeon broth) and add sugar and vinegar to taste. Boil some regular Korean somyeon noodles (the thin wheat flour noodles) according to package instructions and hard boil a few eggs. Divide the noodles and eggs into portions before scooping onto it the broth you made. 


  1. Hi, i am from israel and we don't have korean markets and the chines markets don't exsactly have korean food. what can i use insted?
    we have rdishes that are small and redish on the outside and white on the inside and they have a little hot flavore would they do?
    I love so much your blog thank you for existing. dikla israel.

  2. Hello! Wow, a reader from Israel! That is very cool and I'm glad you like the blog. I have always hoped to make a visit to Israel one day ^^

    As for your question, I'm afraid I am not sure. The radishes in Asia are large and looks like this:

    It is usually mild to slightly spicy but has a sweet taste to it too. I know there are other varieties of radishes too but I have not tried with other kinds before and the radish you are describing I don't think I've seen in Korea.

    I'm not sure but I believe your radish could work, although the taste will be different. Pickling and fermenting can be done on all sorts of vegetables so I'm sure your variety of radish will work too but I'm not sure how the taste of the pickled radish will turn out. Perhaps you can try it out and come up with a new fusion dongchimi from Israel? :)

    Sorry I can't help you out more... But if you do try it out, please let me know how it turned out!


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