Dongchimi (Korean Radish Water Kimchi)

Dongchimi is a mild (not spicy) kimchi made from Korean radish. This recipe is easy to assemble and you’ll have homemade Korean radish water kimchi in just two days.

Bowl of Dongchimi Surrounded by Bowls of Banchan (Side Dishes) and a Bowl of Korean Short Ribs. On the Table, a Table Napkin and Some Whole Green Onions.

Simply Recipes / Cynthia Christensen

My mother always had at least four kinds of kimchi in the refrigerator at any given time; cucumber, cabbage, and turnip were the most common. Most of them were so spicy that she had to rinse ours with water before giving it to us kids (confession, I did the same thing with my daughters). 

In the winter, a big glass jar full of white radishes and green onions with a few pepper slices floating in a clear liquid would join the other kimchi. This was dongchimi, Korean radish water kimchi.

What Is Dongchimi?

Dongchimi literally means winter kimchi, and it is a non-spicy kimchi that is usually made in the fall and typically lasts through the winter months. In traditional folk medicine, the liquid part of the dongchimi (the brine) was used to help with an upset stomach or a cough. As a child, if I had a sore throat, I was given a choice of gargling with hot salt water or drinking dongchimi brine. Guess which one I chose.

Dongchimi captures most of the taste elements, being a little sweet and a bit salty with a pleasant, tangy acidity that helps to cut through the fattiness of grilled meats. It’s a reprieve from other spicy or steamy foods you may be eating. The brine is also a common ingredient in naengmyeon, cold Korean noodle soup. 

My mother, and most Koreans, serve it in the winter as a light and refreshing broth that they eat with hot foods, especially grilled meats like kalbi. I love to drink the brine and eat all the vegetables as soon as the bowl hits the table, but my mother would sip hers throughout a meal.

Bowl of Dongchimi Surrounded by Bowls of Banchan (Side Dishes) and a Bowl of Korean Short Ribs. On the Table, a Table Napkin and Some Whole Green Onions.

Simply Recipes / Cynthia Christensen

The Best Radishes for Dongchimi

Traditionally dongchimi is made from whole small Korean radishes called mu. The Korean radish is a firm vegetable that is shorter and more stout than a daikon radish (my mom called them chubby radishes). They are white on top and have a light green color about halfway down. The more green you see, the sweeter they tend to be. 

A Quick(er) Recipe

My mother would take small whole radishes, roll them in coarse salt, and allow them to sit in a jar in a cold spot for several days to soften. She then added sliced fruit, garlic, and a few chili peppers, covered everything with water, and allowed the whole thing to ferment for several weeks. 

This recipe for quick dongchimi utilizes sliced radishes and a purée of fruits and aromatics, making an even more flavorful brine and shortening the whole process to a mere 48 hours. After that, the dongchimi will continue to ferment and get even more flavorful over time.


I prefer to make my radish water kimchi in a glass jar so that I can see the bubbles of fermentation forming, confirming that it’s ready to eat. After that I place it in the refrigerator, ready for me to pour out a serving whenever I like. Properly stored in an airtight container in your refrigerator, your dongchimi will taste great for up to 3 months.

Fun with Fermentation

Dongchimi (Korean Radish Water Kimchi)

Prep Time 15 mins
Rest 60 mins
Total Time 75 mins
Servings 6 to 12 servings
Yield 6 cups

Make homemade dongchimi at least 2 days before you plan to serve it.


  • 1 1/2 large Korean radishes (about 1 1/2 pounds)

  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt

  • 2 tablespoons honey

  • 1 Asian pear (about 12 ounces), peeled, cored, and cubed

  • 1 red apple (Honeycrisp, Fuji, or Envy if possible, about 6 ounces), peeled, cored, and cubed

  • 1/4 white onion (about 2 ounces), diced

  • 1 (1-inch) piece of ginger, peeled

  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled

  • 4 cups cold water, divided

  • 2 green onions, cut into 3-inch long slices

  • 1 hot pepper, such as serrano, sliced (optional)

Special Equipment

  • Cheesecloth
  • 1 (2-quart) container, preferably glass


  1. Prepare the radishes:

    Peel and slice the Korean radishes into very thin, 1/8-inch-thick half-moon shapes. In a medium bowl, toss the radishes with the salt and honey and let sit for 1 hour while you make the brine.

    Tablespoon of Salt Added to a Bowl of Sliced Korean Radish Topped With Honey, and in the Surroundings, a Knife and a Bowl of Salt for Mul Naengmyeon Recipe

    Simply Recipes / Cynthia Christensen

  2. Make the brine:

    Place the pear, apple, onion, ginger, and garlic in a blender or food processor with 1 cup of cold water. Blend until smooth. Line a wire mesh strainer with a double layer of cheesecloth and set over a large bowl. Pour the blended ingredients into the strainer to catch all the liquid in the bowl. Gather the edges of the cheesecloth and squeeze to get as much liquid from the purée as possible into the bowl. Discard the cheesecloth with the dry purée.

    Water from a Glass Measuring Cup Poured Into a Blender With Garlic, Ginger, Asian Pears, and Onions for Naengmyeon Recipe

    Simply Recipes / Cynthia Christensen

    Bowl of Naengmyeon

    Simply Recipes / Cynthia Christensen

  3. Make the kimchi:

    Drain and rinse the radish slices to remove as much of the salt and honey as possible. Place in the bottom of a 2-quart container with a lid along with the sliced green onions and pepper (if using). Pour all of the strained liquid from the purée along with the remaining 3 cups of cold water on top of the radishes. 

    Cover and store at room temperature for at least 48 hours, or until you can see bubbles on top of the liquid. Transfer to the refrigerator, where it will keep for a few months. It never really goes bad, but the flavor is best in the first 3 months.

    Love the recipe? Leave us stars and a comment below!

    Strained Liquid in a Pyrex Measuring Cup Poured Into a Jar With Dongchimi Ingredients for Naengmyeon (Korean Cold Noodle Soup)

    Simply Recipes / Cynthia Christensen

    Jar of Dongchimi for Naengmyeon (Korean Cold Noodle Soup) Recipe

    Simply Recipes / Cynthia Christensen

    Bowl of Dongchimi Surrounded by Bowls of Banchan (Side Dishes) and a Bowl of Korean Short Ribs. On the Table, a Table Napkin and Some Whole Green Onions.

    Simply Recipes / Cynthia Christensen

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
40 Calories
0g Fat
10g Carbs
1g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 12
Amount per serving
Calories 40
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 326mg 14%
Total Carbohydrate 10g 3%
Dietary Fiber 2g 9%
Total Sugars 6g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 11mg 53%
Calcium 18mg 1%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 233mg 5%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.