Sanne: When I was visiting Ella at her home in Masan, South Korea, last year, I was very fascinated by her kimchi fridge, which was an entire fridge full of boxes with different kinds of pickled, fermented and salted vegetables. Ella’s mom makes most of the kimchi herself, and she makes big batches, so there are enough to last for a long time.
When I was there, Ella’s mom had just finished making chonggak kimchi, which is a type of kimchi made from a Korean radish. The radish used is small enough to be cut with a pair of kitchen scissors (another Korean kitchen essential), and the texture is crunchy and delicious.
Chonggak means bachelor in Korean, and I was told that chonggak kimchi got its name because the radish and the long green leaves resemble the hairstyle of single men in ancient Korea. Chonggak kimchi is also sometimes called ponytail kimchi, because of the long green “ponytail” leaves.
Ella and I had previously had chonggak kimchi at a restaurant, and Ella mentioned, that it was too sour and too soft, and not half as good as the one her mom makes, and after trying her mom’s kimchi, I completely agree. The homemade version is not too sour, with a slightly nutty flavor, and a delicious, crunchy texture. I wish I could give you the recipe, but the radish used for chonggak kimchi is rather difficult to find outside of Korea.