Korean Wife Camp: Radish Water Kimchi – Dongchimi

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korean radish water kimchi dongchimi
Paul’s stepfather, Edgar, loves Korean food almost as much as I do. Together, he and I definitely have the true Koreans in our family beat in terms of our obsession with their own cuisine. So for Father’s Day, we took him to a fun Korean BBQ restaurant called Kang Hodong Baekjong – one of the few in town where the meat is cooked over coals, rather than just a gas burner. It’s delicious.

But the part of the meal that really caught my attention was a delicious banchan dish called Dongchimi, or radish water kimchi. (Banchan is a blanket term for the fantastic array of free side dishes famously served alongside Korean barbeque.) It was deceptively simple seeming: just thin slices of “moo” or korean radish served in a salty, tangy, frosty broth – an utterly refreshing and fabulous palate cleanser. I couldn’t get enough! And while Dongchimi literally translates to “winter kimchi,” the fact that it’s served cold makes it especially delightful in the heat of summertime.

But when I asked my future mother-in-law how it is prepared, she told me it takes too long to make, so she just buys it pre-packaged at the store. What more tantalizing bait for an aspiring cook/wife/mother could there be, I ask you? A challenge! This presented the perfect opportunity for me to learn it, make it, perfect it, and dazzle the shit out of my Korean mother-in-law with the results!

dongchimi radish water kimchi


And while my mother-in-law was right, it does take rather a while to make (thanks to the fermentation process), the actual “hands-on” prep time and effort involved is quite minimal. The trick of this dish, really, is patience while it does it’s pickly thing and makes fermentation magic on your countertop. So, to make it simple, I’ll break up the recipe by days.

What you’ll need:

Day 1:
5 lbs Korean Radishes, cut into pieces about the size of your palm. (If you can’t source korean radishes, you can substitute daikon, which is available in most supermarkets.)
1/2 cup kosher salt (I use this brand exclusively, because it’s free of the caking agents found in other brands)

Day 5:
3 green korean chiles
3 red korean chiles, each pierced with a fork a few times
1 cup asian pear, cubed
3 green onions, roots and all
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ginger, minced
10 cups water

Grab a large glass jar. I used this one, which has a gallon and a half capacity and worked perfectly. Place your salt into a bowl, and give the radishe slices a good rinse. While they’re still wet, roll them each in the salt until well-coated, and place them into the jar. If you have any leftover salt in the bowl, sprinkle it on top of the radish slices in the jar. Cover and refrigerate it for 4-5 days, during which time the salt will pull moisture from the radishes, softening them and preparing them to absorb all the flavors in the delicious, briney broth you’ll be creating later.

After a few days have passed, you’ll notice about an inch or two of water has collected at the bottom of the jar, which will serve as the base of your brine. Grab the rest of your ingredients, it’s go time!

Toss the chiles, cubed asian pear, and green onions into the jar. Place your minced ginger and garlic into a cheesecloth bundle and drop that in, too.

korean pickled radish recipe - dongchimi

Add your 10 cups of water, give it a good stir, and cover it up again. Then put your patient pants on and leave it to ferment at room temperature on your counter.

korean radish water kimchi

Within a day or less, you’ll notice the formerly clear brine has begun to take on a milky, cloudier hue. That’s when you know the magic is happening! After a day, give the broth a taste, and see if you’re happy with the balance of mild spiciness, tangy tartness, and salty savoriness. Try a bit of radish, too. If it’s too crunchy, you might want to cut your chunks in half to speed up their softening. You want them to still have a bit of crisp to them, but they shouldn’t feel “raw” to the tooth, either. But it’s all a matter of preference. In our case, we left it out for two full days before it achieved perfection. Then just transfer it to the fridge, and take bits of radish and broth to enjoy at your leisure!

I was quite nervous that after all the time that went into making this, it wouldn’t match up the quality of Kang Hodong Baekjong’s delicious dish. But when we had our first bowlful with dinner, I was delighted to find that I loved it and even preferred it to the original! And when Paul declared it “restaurant quality,” I knew we had a hit on our hands. I’ll be taking a batch to my mother-in-law’s house next weekend, and can’t wait to hear what she thinks!

dongchimi radish water kimchi recipe

To serve, slice the radish very thinly, and place in a bowl with a ladle or two of the chilled brine and a few chunks of asian pear. If you have company, toss in a chile or bit of green onion for color. Dongchimi pairs fantastically with a hearty steak from the grill, or burgers… but I enjoy it with pretty much everything! And because it’s fermented, it’s chock full of nutritious probiotics which support healthy digestive function (among other great benefits), and high in oxygen saturation, so it’s a wonderful elixir for when you’ve overindulged and find your belly in a bit of gluttonous distress.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Stay tuned, because next up will be my tried and true traditional napa cabbage kimchi recipe! It took me 5 attemps to perfect it, and I can’t wait to share it with you.

Until next time…. 안녕히계세요! (Goodbye!)


Splurging on skincare, saving face.

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Early into our courtship, Paul took me to the fabulous Hotel del Coronado for a long weekend, and treated me to an afternoon in their spa, which included a luxurious professional facial. Up to that point, my skincare routine consisted of using my body wash as face wash, and slathering on some coconut oil as moisturizer. It wasn’t very, shall we say, refined. *cut to me lackadaisically washing my face with (gasp) body wash in the shower*

And being in my mid-thirties, it isn’t such a bad idea to get with the program and start treating my face with a little more respect than that. I’ve been pretty lucky, in that (so far) I’ve managed to stay fairly wrinkle-and-acne free. My biggest problems tend to be an oily T-zone, and sporadic deep zits along my jaw line. So, the nice lady who gave me the facial of a lifetime recommended some products, and I bit the bullet to splurge a bit on keeping my face more clean, balanced, and healthy.

Skincare splurges

Eminence Organics is a phenomenal brand. They are, as implied by their name, organic as all get out. No creepy additives, no testing on animals, all handmade and natural goodness that makes me feel safe and responsible. Their probiotic line offers the same thing to my skin that yogurt does for my belly. It keeps the healthy bacteria in good balance, so they can fight off the nasty bacteria more efficiently. The lactic acid helps provide gentle exfoliation, and a host of vitamins, active ingredients and nutrients generally calm and nourish my skin. It’s not too drying, which is nice since I do have combination skin and sometimes my cheeks are on the drier side. And it smells nice, too.

I follow the cleanser with the moisturizer in the mornings, which I mix with my tinted moisturizer that serves as my foundation. In the evenings, I follow the cleanser with a 10% glycolic lotion from Epicuren, which uses Alpha Hydroxy Acids to exfoliate and bolster support of collagen and elastin, while clearing pores and battling wrinkles, spots and scars. This one is a bit more aggressive in the anti-aging part of my routine, and I love the tingle that I feel when I lay it on. Epicuren is another lovely, natural and healthy line of skincare products that I feel safe using.

Once a week or so, I slather on the Eminence probiotic masque between my evening wash and glycolic lotion. It boosts my routine with extra exfoliation, moisturization and nourishment. Paul has periodically noticed on days that I use it, claiming my skin looks brighter and healthier. Then he kisses me all over. BONUS.

I definitely feel as though my skin is better off for having this routine, and it makes me feel like I’ve made more informed choices about what’s healthy for my skin. I’ve noticed that my oily/dry spots seem more balanced, and there’s more overall vitality to my skin. Buying so many specialized products felt like a huge splurge, but honestly, I’ve been rocking the same pump of cleanser, glycolic lotion, and tub of masque since April, and I’ve only had to reorder the moisturizer once since then. This stuff packs a lot of bang for it’s buck, and lasts a long-ass time. Worth every damn penny.

What are your favorite skin care products?