Soviet-Korean carrot salad – “Morkovcha”


Morkovcha is an accident of history. Despite its name in Russian – морковь по-корейски (“carrots Korean-style”) – this dish is virtually unknown in Korea.

During the Stalin regime, the Soviet Union enacted mass deportations of various ethnic groups, moving them from their historical homelands to remote regions in other parts of the country. Koreans ended up in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, thousands of miles away from their homeland in northeast Asia. This population of Koreans living in Central Asia is known as the “Koryo saram.”

Morkovcha is essentially a type of kimchi made with ingredients that were readily available in Central Asia: carrots, vinegar, onions, and garlic. It’s a crisp, refreshing salad that goes well with Central Asian food, and is popular all across the former Soviet Union. It’s also very easy to make.

This recipe is from Natalia Kim’s website Her Youtube channel has lots of Russian and Central Asian video recipes.

Coriander powder
Black pepper
Red pepper
Sesame seeds

1. Cut the carrots into long, thin slices. I use a julienne slicer for this purpose. Salt the carrots, add vinegar, mix well, and let this sit for about half an hour.

2. The carrots will have given off juices. Drain the juice from the carrots, then add the other spices to taste. Make sure not to add too much coriander powder, as it can give the resulting salad a gritty texture. Mix well.

3. Chop up some garlic and put it in a pile on top of the salad.

4. Dice a small onion, fry until brown in oil, then pour the onion and hot oil over the garlic. Many Russian-influenced salads have this last step of pouring hot oil over the salad. You should hear a sizzling noise as the oil hits. Mix everything well.

The salad is complete! Enjoy!

Morkovcha with pide, shurpa, and nan bread.
Morkovcha with pide, shurpa, and nan bread.


3 thoughts on “Soviet-Korean carrot salad – “Morkovcha”

  1. maxgor January 13, 2015 / 7:21 pm

    Never heard of “Morkovcha” – we called it “Корейская морковка”, which is Korean Carrot. Possibly this term was used in some parts of Soviet Union.


    • pravit January 17, 2015 / 10:37 pm

      I think морковь-ча is used in Central Asia. Besides морковь-ча there are other salads that use this “-ча” suffix, like камди-ча, ве-ча…


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