traditional kimchi recipe

What is the best kimchi recipe?

You all probably know about health benefits of fermented food. Not only is it very healthy, but fermented food is very easy to make. Of course, you can always buy fermented food in a store, but usually it has a lot of preservatives you don’t want in your body. If you like fermented food, you will definitely like kimchi. Kimchi is a Korean dish made of various fermented vegetables, mainly napa cabbage and radish. You can eat it as a salad or to prepare it with pork or chicken in a wok. “Kimchi” actually means pickled vegetables when translated from Korean language.

You may wonder how do you make homemade kimchi and the answer is- very easy. Similar to homemade sauerkraut, you just need to buy a few ingredients, put them in a container and leave them to ferment. Compared to sauerkraut, kimchi has stronger flavor and smell because of various spicy ingredients such as ginger and fish sauce but don’t let these spices discourage you from making it. Since kimchi is very healthy and easy to make, you should at least give it a chance and make a small portion of it.

Traditional kimchi recipe

Jump to Recipe

These are ingredients you need to make a traditional kimchi. Of course, like any other dish, there are a lot of varieties and optional ingredients. If you have already tried this traditional kimchi, be bold and choose one of the recipes below.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of sea salt preferably, or any other salt you use
  • 10 cups of water
  • 2 heads of Napa cabbage
  • 1 whole garlic of medium size
  • 2 teaspoons of fresh grated ginger
  • ¼  cup of any fish sauce you find or preferably myulchiaekjeot
  • ½ cup of Korean salted shrimp called saeujeot or any other salted shrimp
  • 1 Asian white radish
  • 1 bunch of green onions
  • ½ cup chili powder, preferable one called gochugaru*
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
  • Sesame oil (optional)
  • Sesame seeds (optional)

*The key to making traditional kimchi is in the quality of salt and chilli powder. The best salt to use is sea salt and gochugaru (Korean chilli flakes). If you cannot find gochugaru chilli powder, replace it with any other chilli powder or flakes of good quality. Check in Asian stores for chilli powders or order online.

How to prepare this Korean kimchi recipe

1. Rinse and cut cabbage into quarters. Use one cup of salt to sprinkle cabbage leaves thoroughly.  In a deep bowl pour 10 cups of water and add another cup of salt. Soak every cabbage quarter into that water, practically bathe it in salted water. Put soaked cabbage in another bowl and when you finish soaking all the cabbage, pour the rest of water in the same bowl. Leave it for 6 hours to rest. Rotate the bottoms every half an hour or so.

2. In a food processor or blender mince peeled and chopped ginger, fish sauce or shrimp and peeled garlic cloves. Add chili powder and optionally sugar.

3. Wash and cut the radish. Put gloves on your hands and mix radish with that paste thoroughly and gently. Drain the cabbage and then add everything in the bowl with the cabbage. Spread the radish paste across every leaf thoroughly.

4. When you spread all the cabbage leaves, take one big leaf and wrap it around the cabbage. Put cabbages in jars and pour 1 cup of water. Make sure there is no air before you close the jar.

5. Leave it in the room for two days and then keep it in the fridge for at least 12 more days.

Note:

Kimchi will be good enough after two weeks. It can be good to eat as a salad for 4 weeks and once the kimchi gets too fermented use it to make hot pots or plain fried rice.

Tips for making quicker kimchi

Traditional kimchi recipe requires some work, especially because you need to spread the paste on every cabbage leaf and to brush gently every piece of it. If you don’t have that much patience or time, you can cut the cabbage the same way you cut radish and mix everything together. It’s definitely a quicker way to make kimchi and because of smaller cabbage pieces, it will ferment sooner. Feel free to try your quick kimchi even after 7 days. The downside of cutting the cabbage in small pieces is that you cannot store it longer, it may change the taste after some time.

If you make big portions of kimchi, you should better not cut the cabbage into pieces, so it can last longer.

There is also another trick to make kimchi quicker- instead of brushing leaves you can soak the whole cabbage and leave it longer in the salted water, at least 16 hours. Then repeat other steps mentioned above.

How to store kimchi?

Traditionally, Koreans store kimchi in earthenware called “Ong-gi.” It is a pottery that keeps kimchi and other fermented foods in an optimal condition. Back in the past, Koreans made kimchi in the fall and placed it in that pottery, and buried it underground during winter. Nowadays kimchi is kept in a plastic or glass container in the fridge.

There is a mold on your kimchi, what to do?

It sometimes happen to get mold on fermented food like kimchi and sauerkraut. This usually happens at the beginning of fermentation. To prevent this, make sure you get rid of any air between kimchi.

If you are sure there is no air left, and the mold still appears, maybe you didn’t put enough salt in it. You can always add more salt to boost preservation. In case the mold is white you can remove it and eat the rest of kimchi. When the mold is green or black, you need to toss it unfortunately.

Traditional kimchi recipe

An easy recipe for making traditional kimchi. If you cannot find all the ingredients, use the alternative ingredients presented below. You can eat kimchi as a salad for 4 weeks and once it gets too fermented use it to make hot pots or plain fried rice.

Prep Time45 mins
Cook Time0 mins
Resting time6 hrs
Total Time45 mins
Course: Appetizer, dinner, lunch, Salad
Cuisine: Korean
Keyword: cabbage, fermented food, kimchi
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 32kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sea salt or any other salt you use
  • 10 cups water
  • 2 heads of Napa cabbage
  • 1 whole garlic of medium size
  • 2 tsps of fresh grated ginger
  • ¼ cup of any fish sauce you find or preferably myulchiaekjeot
  • ½ cup of Korean salted shrimp called saeujeot or any other salted shrimp
  • 1 Asian white radish
  • 1 bunch of green onions
  • ½ cup chili powder, preferable one called gochugaru*
  • 1 tsp sugar (optional)
  • a drizzle of sesame oil (optional)
  • sesame seeds (optional)

Instructions

  • Rinse and cut cabbage into quarters. Use one cup of salt to sprinkle cabbage leaves thoroughly.  In a deep bowl pour 10 cups of water and add another cup of salt. Soak every cabbage quarter into that water, practically bathe it in salted water. Put soaked cabbage in another bowl and when you finish soaking all the cabbage, pour the rest of water in the same bowl. Leave it for 6 hours to rest. Rotate the bottoms every half an hour or so.
  • In a food processor or blender mince peeled and chopped ginger, fish sauce or shrimp and peeled garlic cloves. Add chili powder and optionally sugar.
  • Wash and cut the radish. Put gloves on your hands and mix radish with that paste thoroughly and gently. Drain the cabbage and then add everything in the bowl with the cabbage. Spread the radish paste across every leaf thoroughly.
  • When you spread all the cabbage leaves, take one big leaf and wrap it around the cabbage. Put cabbages in jars and pour 1 cup of water. Make sure there is no air before you close the jar.
  • Leave it in the room for two days and then keep it in the fridge for at least 12 more days.

Notes

*The key to making traditional kimchi is in the quality of salt and chilli powder. The best salt to use is sea salt and gochugaru (Korean chilli flakes). If you cannot find gochugaru chilli powder, replace it with any other chilli powder or flakes of good quality. Check in Asian stores for chilli powders or order online.

Japanese kimchi recipe

kimchi recipe

If you have already tried Korean kimchi and you want to prepare something similar but milder, try Japanese kimchi version. It doesn’t have so strong flavor because it has less ingredients and no ginger.

Here’s what you need for a Japanese-style kimchi:

  • Any Chinese, Asian type of cabbage (one medium-size piece)
  • 2 tablespoons of salt
  • 4 tablespoons of white sugar
  • 4 tablespoons of chilli powder
  • 1 carrot
  • 4 anchovy fillets
  • 2 tablespoons of grated garlic
  • 3 green onions

PREPARATION

  1. Start by washing the cabbage and cutting the stem, then cut the cabbage in two halves. Separate all leaves and together with the stem, put them in a big glass bowl. Brush every leave with salt and when you lay down all the cabbage leaves, put a jar or any other heavy object on it. Of course, make sure the jar or that other object is clean because it will sit directly on the cabbage for 8 hours. After 8 hours the cabbage leaves will be soaked in water. Thanks to salt, the cabbage will release its water.
  2. After 8 hours, wash the cabbage leaves and cut them in small pieces. You can decide what size do you want, depending on how big the jar is, where you will put your kimchi. Place the cabbage pieces in a large bowl.
  3. In the meantime, mix all other ingredients in a blender to make the paste and then stir the paste with the cabbage and put it in a jar. Leave for 3 days at a room temperature and have a taste of it. If it’s not too sour, wait for two more days and then store it in the fridge and eat whenever you want the next three months.

For those who don’t have a blender, or any similar food processor, you can use mixer to make the paste.

If the cabbage hasn’t released enough water after 8 hours, keep it for 2 more hours.

Japanese kimchi recipe

If you have already tried Korean kimchi and you want to prepare something similar but milder, try Japanese kimchi version. It doesn’t have so strong flavor because it has less ingredients and no ginger.
Prep Time35 mins
Cook Time0 mins
Resting time8 hrs
Total Time35 mins
Course: Appetizer, dinner, lunch, Salad, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: fermented food, kimchi
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 30kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 medium size cabbage, Chinese or any Asian type
  • 2 tbsp of salt
  • 4 tbsp of white sugar
  • 4 tbsp of chilli powder
  • 1 carrot
  • 4 anchovy fillets
  • 2 tbsp of grated garlic
  • 3 green onions

Instructions

  • Start by washing the cabbage and cutting the stem, then cut the cabbage in two halves. Separate all leaves and together with the stem, put them in a big glass bowl. Brush every leave with salt and when you lay down all the cabbage leaves, put a jar or any other heavy object on it. Of course, make sure the jar or that other object is clean because it will sit directly on the cabbage for 8 hours. After 8 hours the cabbage leaves will be soaked in water. Thanks to salt, the cabbage will release its water.
  • After 8 hours, wash the cabbage leaves and cut them in small pieces. You can decide what size do you want, depending on how big the jar is, where you will put your kimchi. Place the cabbage pieces in a large bowl.
  • In the meantime, mix all other ingredients in a blender to make the paste and then stir the paste with the cabbage and put it in a jar. Leave for 3 days at a room temperature and have a taste of it. If it’s not too sour, wait for two more days and then store it in the fridge and eat whenever you want the next three months.

Notes

If you don’t have a blender, or any similar food processor, you can use mixer to make the paste. If the cabbage hasn’t released enough water after 8 hours, keep it for 2 more hours.

Vegan kimchi recipe

As you know, traditional kimchi recipe contains fish sauce and shrimps.  If you are a vegan who likes fermented food you will like to know that you can still make vegan kimchi. There are ingredients you can use as a substitute for fish sauce and shrimps.

Instead of fish sauce, you can put soy sauce and dashima broth and different vegetables and fruits instead of shrimps (pumpkin, pear, apples, persimmon, mustard green).

Dashima broth is made from water and Korean seaweed called dashima. Try to find it in Asian supermarkets, or use its Japanese substitute, Kombu. If you cannot find any of these, cook a handful of dried shiitake instead. It won’t be the same taste, but it will be good anyway.

The preparation of vegan kimchi is the same as traditional one. Start by washing the cabbage, cutting the stem a bit but not completely, so the leaves stay together. Brush the leaves with salt and leave it to rest for 8 hours under a heavy object.

Meanwhile prepare the paste and cut the fruits and vegetables. Combine everything and spread it between cabbage leaves. Put everything in a proper container, pour the broth and leave it at room temperature for two days. After that, keep it in the fridge and eat it for several weeks.

INGREDIENTS FOR VEGAN KIMCHI RECIPE:

  • 1 napa cabbage
  • 1 cup of sea salt
  • 5 cups of water

Other fruits and vegetables you need to combine later with the paste and cabbage:

  • 3/4 pound Korean radish or any alternative, but needs to be white radish
  • three scallions or green onions
  • 3 large mustard green gat leaves – if you find it

The ingredients for the paste:

  • 1 tablespoon sweet rice powder (combine it with 1/2 cup water and simmer it at low heat until it
  • thickens.)
  • 1/2 cup Korean chili flakes gochugaru or its alternative
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (cook the pumpkin and mix it with a mixer, in a food processor, or squeeze it with pork).
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1/4 pear grated
  • 1 cup dashima broth (Boil 1 large piece of dashima in 2 cups of water for 10 minutes. )

Vegan kimchi recipe

Kimchi without fish sauce and shrimps. Instead of fish sauce, you can put soy sauce and dashima broth and different vegetables and fruits instead of shrimps (pumpkin, pear, apples, persimmon, mustard green).
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time0 mins
Restint Time8 hrs
Total Time30 mins
Course: Appetizer, dinner, lunch, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: Japanese, Korean
Keyword: kimchi, vegan
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 41kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 Napa cabbage
  • 1 cup of sea salt
  • 5 cups of water
  • 3/4 pound Korean radish or any alternative, but needs to be white radish
  • 3 scallions or green onions
  • 3 large mustard green gat leaves (if you find it)

Ingredients for the paste

  • 1 tbsp sweet rice powder (combine it with 1/2 cup water and simmer it at low heat until it)
  • 1/2 Korean chili flakes gochugaru or its alternative
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (cook the pumpkin and mix it with a mixer, in a food processor, or squeeze it with pork)
  • 2 tbsps minced garlic
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 2 tbsps soy sauce
  • 2 tbsps of salt
  • 1/4 pear grated
  • 1 cup dashima broth (Boil 1 large piece of dashima in 2 cups of water for 10 minutes)

Instructions

  • Start by washing the cabbage, cutting the stem a bit but not completely, so the leaves stay together.
  • Brush the leaves with salt and leave it to rest for 8 hours under a heavy object.
  • Meanwhile prepare the paste and cut the fruits and vegetables. Combine everything apart from the broth and spread it between cabbage leaves.
  • Put everything in a proper container, pour the broth and leave it at room temperature for two days. After that, keep it in the fridge and eat it for several weeks.

Paleo kimchi recipe

For those who are on paleo diet, there is paleo kimchi recipe you can try. Again, preparation steps are similar. It all comes down to sprinkle cabbage leaves with salt and leave it to release its juices in a few hours. Then you make the paste and mix everything together.

  1. Wash cabbage leaves but don’t separate them from the stem. Put salt on every leaf and leave it for at least three hours or until it is totally soaked in water. Rinse and drain the cabbage after that.
  2. Mix other ingredients to make the paste.
  3. Spread the paste across the cabbage leaves and make sure you cover every one of it.
  4. Pack your kimchi in a nice big jar, but leave some space at the top. Don’t let the air inside the jar. Leave it in a dark room for two days and then put it in the fridge.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 whole napa cabbage
  • 1 big cup of sliced carrots
  • 3 tablespoons of sea salt
  • ¾ cup diced yellow onion
  • 1 pear, remove the skin
  • ½  of sweet red apple
  • 6-7 large garlic cloves chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of grated ginger root
  • 1 cup of diced scallions or green onions
  • 1 tablespoon of fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of Korean Gochugaru (or any other alternative)

Paleo kimchi recipe

For those who are on paleo diet, here is a paleo kimchi recipe you can try.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time0 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Appetizer, dinner, lunch, Salad, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: Japanese, Korean
Keyword: kimchi, paleo
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 49kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 whole Napa cabbage
  • 1 big cup of sliced carrots
  • 3 tbsps of sea salt
  • ¾ cup yellow onion, diced
  • 1 pear, remove the skin
  • ½ of sweet red apple
  • 6 or 7 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger root
  • 1 cup of diced scallions or green onions
  • 1 tbsp of fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp of Korean Gochugaru (or any other alternative)

Instructions

  • Wash cabbage leaves but don’t separate them from the stem. Put salt on every leaf and leave it for at least three hours or until it is totally soaked in water. Rinse and drain the cabbage after that.
  • Mix other ingredients to make the paste.
  • Spread the paste across the cabbage leaves and make sure you cover every one of it.
  • Pack your kimchi in a nice big jar, but leave some space at the top. Don’t let the air inside the jar. Leave it in a dark room for two days and then put it in the fridge.

As you can see, kimchi is very easy to make and there are a lot of varieties and optional ingredients you can skip if you don’t like too spicy food. Even if you don’t find all the ingredients and use their alternatives, I am sure your kimchi is going to turn out well. Let me know in comments what combinations did you try, it’s never enough of new flavors.

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