Ponytail kimchi

Chonggak-kimchi 총각김치

Hi everybody!
I’m very excited to introduce chonggak-kimchi to you today, a special kind of kimchi made with radishes called chonggakmu. Chonggak-kimchi is often translated as “ponytail kimchi.” I think it’s an awesome translation because the name not only sounds cute but the greens on the radish look like real ponytail. You’ll never forget the name once you hear it.

The radish is firm and crispy and the greens are soft, so you can imagine the texture and taste of this kimchi: both crunchy and smooth. This kind of radish is not found in many countries outside for Korea, but I found a few companies that sell the seeds online, so you can grow your own.

But you can easily get this radish at a Korean grocery store. Ask them, “I’m looking for chonggakmu!” “I want to make chonggak-kimchi!” Good quality chonggakmu have a radish that looks like a cute curvy bulb, and are not more than 4 inches long, with soft greens.

My late father used to love this kimchi. I still remember the crunchy sound that came from his mouth when he ate it. The sound that I remember still stimulates my appetite for this kimchi. Whenever I eat this kimchi, I want to make the sound just as my father did. “sheeguruk sheeguruk” : )

When I lived in Canada, one day I went to a Korean vegetable farm with my friends, 1 hour by car from Toronto. The farm was several acres and run by a Korean man growing a variety of Korean vegetables. Once we found him in the field, he gave each of us a huge plastic garbage bag. “Fill this with cabbage from my field, and pay me $10 per bag.”

All we could think about was how to fill the bags the most efficiently. My friends and I were almost going crazy to stuff as much as we could into our bags. I filled 2 huge bags and my friends also made a few bags each. Our hands, clothes, under fingernails, the farm soil and dust was everywhere. We laughed at each other. “Haha, check out your face!”

After he got paid, he led us to his home on the farm, and made warm rice with a rice cooker. “I’m making rice for you now. When the rice is done, eat it with kimchi. That’s all I have for you.” He opened his refrigerator and took out a huge glass jar filled with ponytail kimchi! Rice and ponytail kimchi, that was our lunch! It was amazingly tasty and everybody made loud crunching sounds. “Ahh, delicious delicious!” I kept saying until I emptied 2 bowls of rice!


Chonggakmu (2 kilograms, or 4½ pounds), kosher salt, onion, garlic, flour, sugar, fish sauce, Korean hot pepper flakes (gochugaru), green onions


Total preparation time: 1½ hours

Prepare the radishes:

  1. Peel the radishes but keep the green stems attached. Cut off the tails and remove the dead leaves.
  2. Cut the radishes in half lengthwise. Grab the 2 halves with both hands, split the greens, and put them into a large basin or bowl. Repeat this until you’ve cleaned all the radishes.
    *tip: If the radishes are small bite sizes (about 2 inches long), skip this step

Salt the radishes:

  1. Add some cold water to the radishes in the basin, and then drain.
  2. Sprinkle the radishes with ½ cup of kosher salt and mix with your hands. Let it sit in the salt for 30 minutes.
  3. 30 minutes later, turn over the radishes so they salt evenly and let it sit for another 30 minutes. Total salting takes 1 hour.
  4. Wash the radishes thoroughly about 4-5 times to remove any dirt and excess salt, and drain in a colander.

Make porridge for the kimchi paste:

  1. Mix ¼ cup flour and 2 cups of water in a pot and heat over medium heat.
  2. Keep stirring until it thickens. When you see some bubbles, add 2 tbs sugar and stir for 1 more minute before removing from the heat.
  3. Cool it down.

Make kimchi!

  1. Mince 12 cloves of garlic and half a medium sized onion (about ½ cup worth of onion). Chop 5 stalks of green onion. Set aside.
  2. Transfer the porridge to a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add the minced garlic and onion, 1 cup hot pepper flakes, ¼ cup fish sauce, and the chopped green onions. Mix well.
  4. Add the ponytail radishes and mix well with your hands.
    *tip: Wear rubber gloves so that your hands won’t be sore later

You can eat it right after making it, but this kimchi is more tasty when it ferments.

To ferment:

  1. Transfer the kimchi to a glass jar or a plastic container and keep it at room temperature for a couple of days.
    *tip: When it ferments, it will smell and taste sour, and the color of the greens will change to olive green.
  2. When the kimchi ferments, scoop some kimchi juice from the bottom of the container to the top so that the top layer of the kimchi won’t dry out and your kimchi will be juicy.

Keep it in the refrigerator and enjoy!

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  1. martinango California joined 12/19 & has 7 comments

    My young radish kimchi. It was delicious. Thank you

    See full size image

  2. Coriander Central NJ joined 12/18 & has 7 comments

    I have seen these radishes in my local Korean store and felt so curious about them! They are so cute, they look like cartoon vegetables. Now I have a recipe for them, and I can’t wait to get some!

  3. thekrnvegan Chicago, IL joined 3/16 & has 3 comments

    Maangchi! I am making these today using my own homemade vegan fish sauce! Thank you for always being such an inspiration. I think our tastebuds must be very similar because your food always tastes EXACTLY the way I always loved it growing up. :) I was so nervous that when I went vegan, I wouldn’t be able to eat all my favorite foods from when I was little, but I have learned so much from your videos and blogs over the past year that I have been able to eat almost all my favorite foods. Can’t wait to add these to my recipe box!

  4. medusagurlyeah Adelaide joined 1/14 & has 32 comments

    HI Maangchi,
    Is there any chance that I could use chonggak kimchi in place of baechu kimchi for kimchi jiggae if I’ve run out of the beach kimchi, or does that sound ridiculous? Thank you!

  5. Sav_sss Canada (near Montreal) joined 3/15 & has 29 comments

    Do you know when those radish are in season?? is it now?? because i think i remember seeing them in my grocery store (my non-korean one lol) but it was like in febuary or something and i don’t remember seeing those again this year so i was wondering if it’s in the winter of the summer?

  6. Hi Maangchi,
    Do you know whether the fresh radish is supposed to be salty? I mixed it with the kimchi paste and this is before fermentation but it’s a little salty. Will it become better after it becomes fermented?

  7. Mechtild joined 7/15 & has 1 comment

    I tried this recipe yesterday with bok choy that I salted for 1 hour. We had it tonight with pork and green bean dumplings and both me and my husband really loved it. Yesterday we tried Oi-muchim and loved that too. Next I’m gonna try this with red radishes, which are in season i Sweden now.

    I saw that you had one grocery store listed for Malmö, Sweden but I wanted to give you a tip about another one: Kina Center Livs on Möllevångstorget 7. I bought hot pepper flakes and hot pepper paste there but they have a lot of other korean ingredients and vegetables. It’s a really well stocked asian grocery store.

  8. kat_ vestal, NY joined 11/12 & has 2 comments

    wow i love this kimchi, i just ate it yesterday with my coworkers. its so crunchy . i will try making it. i already made your regular kimchi 6 times.kkk

    thank you so much for your recipes!!^^

  9. KrynauwOtto2 Pretoria, South Africa joined 9/13 & has 54 comments

    Hi Maangchi,
    I know this has nothing to do with this recipe but can you please write my name in Korean?
    Its Krynauw, the pronunciation is Cray (as in crayfish) + no (as in yes- no)
    I would REALLY appreciate it!!!
    Thanks :)

  10. bellehorn Ohio joined 8/13 & has 2 comments

    Hi, I just joined. I’ve been watching your recipes on you tube for a while now and your recipes always look delicious. I was wondering if you could use the little red radishes. Where i live, there is not a Korean store for like 30 miles. If you cant use them in this kimchi recipe, is there
    any kimchi that you can use them in?

  11. jasa73 Cambridge, MA joined 4/13 & has 2 comments

    Hi i was wondering if this would work with japanese turnip?

  12. Q. D. C. joined 1/13 & has 4 comments

    I made this for the first time this weekend. IT is so delicious! Thank you for the recipe, Maangchi. I shared it with co-workers, who don’t want to make it themselves: they just want me to make more!

  13. vishvasan Bangalore, India joined 11/12 & has 1 comment

    Annyeonghaseo Maangchi shi,
    I am an admirer of Korean culture and have wanted to try the cuisine for a long time now. Fortunately when i was about to place an overseas order of kimchi, i stumbled upon this blog and am very glad to say that i just tried ponytail kimchi and it came out very well. Thank you for sharing the recipes.

  14. Sunnybaby California, USA joined 9/12 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi,

    I just purchased ponytail radish from the korean market but the ponytail radish I purchased have green leaves that are rough and have spikes on the leaves, it is not smooth as you described… does that mean it is not edible?

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,047 comments

      They are edible but the kimchi may turn out tough. To make good chonggak kimchi (ponytail kimchi), the most important thing is to find good quality ponytail radishes. The radishes should be firm, crispy, and juicy. The leaves are green and soft. If not, wait until you find better quality of ponytail radishes.

  15. CR California joined 8/12 & has 1 comment

    Hello. Thank you for all your great recipes! I recently made the ponytail kimchi but mine came out salty. I washed the kimchi about 5 times & soaked in water but maybe not enough? I also doubled the recipe so maybe that ruined it? Any suggestions?

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