Adventures of an American Seoul-Sister

Adventures and Observations of an American Seoul-Sister

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Cooking in Korea: Dongchimi

Unable to find any recognizable foods at the grocery store, I find it necessary to learn to cook Korean food.  I cannot, after all, eat Ramen for dinner for the next eleven months.  Whereas the grocer's currently baffles me, I am not at all intimated by the process of learning Korean cuisine.  In fact, I look forward to the day when I can cruise my cart through E-mart and confidently identify more than just the noodles and moon pies. 

I've started with an easy recipe that is a common sidedish for many Korean meals.  It uses a Korean vegetable called mu, which is so huge that it is as long as my forearm and twice as round.  It is a white-fleshed veggie that has a taste and texture nearly identical to the cute little red radishes I am used to.  For this reason, I imagine that this recipe can be duplicated in the states by substituting them for the mu.  If you do use red radishes, don't bother to peel them but wash them very well.
The recipe is called Dongchimi.  It's a "cool water," non-spicy kim chi--one of hundreds of kinds of kim chi found in Korea. 

For this recipe I used:

6 TBS Salt
4 TBS Sugar
2 Qts Water
One Mu
One large glass container

Start by peeling and dicing the mu into 3/4 inch cubes (or one inch long thin slices if preferred)

Sprinkle the mu with 3 TBS of salt and 2 TBS of sugar and toss so that the pieces are evenly coated. 
Put the cubes in the jar, put the lid on, and set aside overnight.

The next day, the mu will be sitting in its own juices that the salt sucked out of the veggie overnight.

Dissolve the remaining salt and sugar in 2 Qts of water, and use this water to top off the jar, covering all of the mu.  Don't fill the jar entirely.  Leave a couple of inches at the top of the jar to make room for the gases that will be released during fermentation.  

Put the lid on the jar.  Set in a room temperature spot for 1 to 2 day until it takes on a vinegary smell. 

Then, refridgerate.  This will last for weeks and weeks!  This is a great recipe for Korea.  It's so humid here that veggies can spoil within a day or two of harvesting.  This may explain why the Koreans have so many varieties of kim chi. Serve this as a sidedish for any type of meat or tofu.  It can also be served with some of the fermented water in the dish.  

Mashikke tuseyo!


  1. i can't get enough of this blog...and the bloggist, oh so sweet!

  2. I have some kim chi in my pantry right now that Kevin made. It is just about ready for its trip to the fridge. It there anything fermentation cant do?