Chonggak (Ponytail Radish) Kimchi

Chonggak or Ponytail Radish Kimchi is a popular meal accompaniment in Korean. Learn how to make this popular kimchi and how to grow Altari radishes.

Kimchi for Bachelors

Chonggak translates to bachelor in Korean. This kimchi got it’s name because the radish used for the kimchi resembles a ponytail. Back in the old days in Korea, young men wore their hair in a long braid.  Because the radish stem resembles the braid, the Altari radish was nicknamed bachelor, or Chonggak.  Whether or not it is a favorite of bachelors, this particular kimchi is my favorite and very popular in Korean cuisine.

Chonggak (Ponytail Radish) Kimchi

Altari Radishes

This is the first time we planted Altari radishes. Normally, we stick with the petite, round red radishes. However, over the winter my mother brought us a package of this Korean variety she picked up at the Asian market.

Altari is a unique small Korean radish that has pure white skin and flesh. It still has the bite of a regular radish, but the pure white, cylindrical body is what sets this radish apart from the rest.  Like other radishes, Altari is a fast growing, cool season root vegetable. They do best when planted in the early spring or fall. We planted ours in late March (which is kinda late in this part of Georgia), but they grew fine. It took six weeks from planting time to harvest.

Chonggak (Ponytail Radish) Kimchi

Harvest the Altari when the top of the root is poking out of the soil. The best part of this kimchi is the radish tops. So, you’ll want to harvest before the root flowers and the leaves get bitter and tough.

Chonggak (Ponytail Radish) Kimchi
The radish will grow to 2-3 inches long and up to an inch in diameter.

Clean and Salt the Radishes

The first step is to clean the radishes.  Wash the radishes thoroughly, but keep the stems attached. Use a knife to scrap down the sides of the radishes to get some of the rough skin off. You can use a vegetable peeler for this step too.

Cut the radishes in half lengthwise. If the radishes are small or thin, you do not have to cut them in half. Once you finish cleaning and cutting the radishes, put them in a large, shallow bowl or in a clean sink.

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Chonggak (Ponytail Radish) Kimchi

Sprinkle the salt all over the radishes.  Thoroughly mix the salt onto the radishes. Make sure the salt gets all over. Let it sit for 30 mins. After 1/2 hour, turn over the radishes and let it sit for another 30 minutes.

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Chonggak (Ponytail Radish) Kimchi

After an hour of salting time, the radishes will be wilty. Rinse the radishes a few times to get the residual salt off.

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Prep the Ingredients

Ideally, you should make the “porridge”  for the kimchi paste while the radishes are soaking. The porridge will act as a binder to keep the spices on the radishes.  In a medium saucepan, add 2 cups of water and 1/4 cup of all purpose flour. Mix thoroughly; make sure there are no flour lumps. Bring the mixture to a light boil. Cook the porridge until it’s thick and bubbly.

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Chonggak (Ponytail Radish) Kimchi

Let the porridge completely cool before you add the rest of the ingredients.

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Chonggak (Ponytail Radish) Kimchi

Add the garlic, Korean red pepper flakes, sugar and ginger to the porridge.

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Mix it in

After the radishes have been washed and drained, add the chopped green onion to the bowl.

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Chonggak (Ponytail Radish) Kimchi

Add in the kimchi paste.

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Chonggak (Ponytail Radish) Kimchi

Using your hands (you may want to wear gloves!), thoroughly incorporate the kimchi paste. Make sure you get it all over each radish.

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Chonggak or Ponytail Radish Kimchi is a popular meal accompaniment in Korean. Learn how to make this popular kimchi and how to grow Altari radishes.
This kimchi is nicknamed “Ponytail” because the green part of the radish resembles one.

Let it Ferment

Kimchi gets its distinctive taste from fermentation. The fermentation process is what gives kimchi its famous sour taste. There are many varieties of kimchi made from napa cabbage, cucumbers and scallions to name a few. Fermentation enhances the digestibility and nutritional value of vegetables,When kimchi is consumed, it populates the intestinal tract with beneficial bacteria.This makes for good gut health! Plus, kimchi is tasty.

To ferment the Chonggak kimchi,pack the radishes tightly in a glass container with a lid. You can eat the kimchi immediately, but it gets better if you let it ferment. Depending on the temperature in your home, this can take 3-5 days.  Leave it out on your counter for a few days. You’ll  know that the kimchi is ready when it smells slightly sour and the radish greens will be a yellow-green color. At this point, put the kimchi in the refrigerator.

Chonggak or Ponytail Radish Kimchi is a popular meal accompaniment in Korean. Learn how to make this popular kimchi and how to grow Altari radishes.

My favorite way to eat Chonggak kimchi is with beef and radish soup (not the Altari radish, but a larger variety of daikon radish). Enjoy it with a steaming bowl of rice or with a juicy steak.

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3 thoughts on “Chonggak (Ponytail Radish) Kimchi

  1. I am trying to find chong-gak radish seeds. I prefer heirloom so I don’t have to buy seeds every year. The only Altari seed I have found is a hybrid.

    Is there such a thing as an heirloom chong-gak seed, or has the Altari seed always been a hybrid?

    1. Micky,
      ‘Altari’ is a specific hybrid variety of radish. As such, if you were to save it’s seeds the resulting radishes would not be exactly the same. I do not know exactly how different they may be, so it may not be a bad idea to try and find out if the new generation would be suitable even though it’s different. Another option would be to try use heirloom radishes that have similar characteristics to those of ‘Altari.’ Baker Creek seeds has a few likely candidates. Good luck and thanks for visiting!

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