Korean carrot salad, Morkovcha, is a vibrant and zesty carrot dish! This crunchy salad is easy to make with basic pantry ingredients and perfect as a side dish for any meal or picnic.

Korean carrot salad in a jar with chopsticks.

Honestly, I wasn’t a big fan of carrots until I tried Korean carrot salad known as Morkovcha. This salad has thin, julienned carrots tossed in a simple vinaigrette made with basic pantry ingredients.

It’s amazing how plain old carrots can transform into such a refreshing, zesty, and crunchy salad! Even if you’re not a fan of carrots, you’ll find yourself loving this dish. Seriously!

In Korea, we call it carrot kimchi, but it’s inspired by a Russian version. The dish blends flavors from both cultures, like kimchi re-imported from Russia.

This Russian-Korean salad recipe is super easy to make and so delicious that I often find myself munching on the whole batch. I have to stop myself, or I might just turn into a carrot!

Korean carrot salad in a serving dish.

About Korean Carrot Salad (Morkovcha)

Morkovcha (Морковча), or “Korean Carrots” in Russian, was created by ethnic Koreans known as the Koryo-saram, who were relocated to Central Asia by Stalin in the 1930s.

In their new homes, they had to adapt their traditional recipes, especially kimchi, using available ingredients. Since Napa cabbage and radishes were hard to find, they started using carrots instead, leading to the creation of this unique Korean salad.

Julienned carrots with vegetable peeler.

During the Soviet era, Korean carrot dish became popular because it was easy to make and used common, inexpensive ingredients. The salad features thinly sliced carrots marinated in a tangy mix of vinegar, garlic, sugar, and salt. Sometimes, a bit of hot pepper is added for extra spice.

Today, Morkovcha is still enjoyed in many post-Soviet countries. It’s a simple yet flavorful dish that showcases the creativity and adaptability of the Koryo-saram people, preserving their culinary traditions in a new form.

How to make Korean carrot salad

Peel and julienne the carrots using a mandolin, vegetable slicer, or a sharp knife. Place the julienned carrots in a mixing bowl and toss with salt. Let them wilt for 10 minutes.

Add sugar, vinegar, and gochugaru (Korean chili flakes). If you don’t have gochugaru, substitute with a mix of cayenne pepper and paprika. Toss well.

Heat oil in a small pot over medium-low heat and fry the garlic until aromatic, being careful not to burn it. Pour the hot oil and garlic mixture over the carrots and mix well.

The salad is ready to serve or can be chilled in the fridge for 2 hours to allow the flavors to meld.

Korean carrot salad (morkovcha) in a jar.

What to Serve With Morkovcha

Korean carrot salad pairs well with a variety of dishes. It is especially delicious alongside grilled meat or fish, such as LA galbi, samgyupsal, or grilled mackerel.

This salad also makes a versatile side dish for any meal or sandwiches. It’s perfect for a BBQ side dish or a picnic. You’ll love how beautifully it pairs with other foods and see how quickly it disappears!

Helpful Tips and Notes

  1. For the best results, I recommend using a mandolin slicer or julienne peeler to julienne carrots. If you don’t have either, you can hand slice the carrots thinly. You can also use a regular grater, but this will lose some of the crunchy texture.
  2. I like to add a hint of gochugaru for vibrant color and subtle heat. This is optional, and you can omit it for a milder salad or substitute it with a mix of cayenne pepper and paprika.
    • For a more robust flavor, you can sprinkle a little bit of spices like coriander or cardamom.
  3. For the vinegar, regular rice vinegar or white vinegar are typical choices, but white wine vinegar is also a great option.
    • Avoid dark vinegar like balsamic vinegar, as it will obscure the bright orange color of the carrots.
Korean carrot salad in a jar with chopsticks.

Korean Carrot Salad (Morkovcha)

Korean carrot salad, Morkovcha, is a vibrant and zesty carrot dish! This crunchy salad is easy to make with basic pantry ingredients and perfect as a side dish for any meal or picnic.
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Recipe Video

Ingredients

  • 1 lb carrot
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar, see note below
  • 1/2 tbsp gochugaru, or 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper + 1 tsp paprika
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic

Instructions 

  • Peel the carrots and cut them into thin strips using a mandolin, vegetable slicer, or a sharp knife. Put the julienned carrots in a mixing bowl, sprinkle with salt, and let them sit for 10 minutes to wilt.
  • Mix in the sugar, vinegar, and gochugaru (Korean chili flakes). If gochugaru is unavailable, use a combination of cayenne pepper and paprika. Toss everything together well.
  • In a small pot, heat the oil over medium-low heat and sauté the garlic until it becomes aromatic, ensuring it doesn’t burn. Pour the hot garlic oil over the carrots and mix thoroughly.
  • The salad can be served immediately or chilled in the fridge for 2 hours to enhance the flavors. For storage, this carrot salad can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Notes

  • For the vinegar, regular rice vinegar or white vinegar are typical choices, but white wine vinegar is also a great option. Avoid dark vinegar like balsamic vinegar, as it will obscure the bright orange color of the carrots.
  • For a milder salad, you can omit gochugaru or substitute it with a mix of cayenne pepper and paprika. For a more robust flavor, sprinkle a little bit of spices like coriander or cardamom.
Calories: 132kcal, Carbohydrates: 11g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 6g, Trans Fat: 0.04g, Sodium: 451mg, Potassium: 265mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 7g, Vitamin A: 12.827IU, Vitamin C: 5mg, Calcium: 32mg, Iron: 0.4mg
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