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Easy Homemade Kimchi PDF Print E-mail
Written by Cris   
Sunday, 12 March 2006

If you are asking yourself, "What is Kimchi?", you will have a pretty good idea by the end of this recipe, but for a really great introduction to the history and culture of Korean pickled vegetables, I highly reccommend checking out  http://www.kimchi.or.kr/eng/main.jsp.   There you will find dozens of recipes and articles about Kimchi and its part in traditional Korean life.


 I have been making my own kimchi at home for several years now, and I have tried many different recipes and vegetables, but for this one, I just wanted to go back to the most basic of ingredients and make a batch with just cabbage, red pepper, garlic, and salt.  If you visited the site above, you'd soon find that this doesn't even qualify as Kimchi by Korean standards, as I have left out three main ingredients: radish, ginger, and green onion.  I normally include these, but I wanted to see what it would taste like without them, and wanted to keep this tutorial as simple and basic as possible.


Make your own Kimchi

The Ingredients:

1 napa cabbage                     6-7 small cloves garlic, peeled

1/2 cup coarse kosher salt                 1/3 cup Korean red pepper flakes 

(optional- and not pictured in this tutorial)

5-6 green onion sprigs
1 small daikon radish
1 tbl crushed ginger

Step 1

Wash the cabbage and cut into strips about 1 1/2 inch wide

If there end up being very large pieces of the stem end, I usually cut these into halves or thirds also, just to make sure that the final product will be bite sized pieces. 

Do the same to any optional vegetables  that you would like to add.  When adding radish, I usually julienne these into very thin matchsticks.

Step 2

Place the sliced cabbage (and optional vegetables) into a large bowl and sprinkle with the salt.  Toss the cabbage as you distribute the salt to spread it as evenly as possible throughout the cabbage. 

Add enough water to cover the vegetables, cover with a plate or lid to keep everthing submerged and let the cabbage soak in the salty water for at least 2 hours. (I usually do this the night before, and finish the process the next morning)  For this tutorial I think I waited about 3 hours...

This soaking starts the fermentation process.

Step 3

Drain most but not all of the salty water off, but do not rinse.  You want to leave a little bit of the water clinging to the leaves.

You can see that the cabbage has already released a lot of moisture and has decreased in volume considerably.

Step 4

Crush the garlic and chop into a fine mince (and the ginger too if you are using it)

I decided to go the easy route and use my garlic crusher.


Step 5

Add the red pepper flakes, garlic (and ginger) to the soaked cabbage.

About the red pepper flakes.

This may be the hardest ingredient to find.  I usually get it at the little Korean supermarket across town.  It lasts a long time though, so even if you have to make a special trip, you don't have to go again for a while.

Sprinkle the pepper over the cabbage, add the crushed garlic (and ginger) and stir to combine.

Step 6

Pack the fresh kimchi into a big jar.  You need a jar with some head room because the vegetables are going to release a LOT of liquid. If the jar is too small, it will overflow.

Step 7

You CAN eat it right away, but to get that hot & sour kimchi taste, place the jar into a cool dark place and wait...  (it will take 3-5 days at least for enough lactic acid to develop to reach the right amount of sourness)

I usually taste it every few days.  Feel free to call it done as soon as it tastes right to you!

Step 8

As the kimchi ferments bubbles will form and the cabbage will rise to the top.  Smash the cabbage back down into the liquid as best as possible. 

before                                                          after


Step 9

It is Done!

When you are happy with the taste, stop the rapid fermentation by placing the kimchi in the refrigerator.

Sometimes I stop it at day 3 or 4.  For this batch it was on Day 7 that I was satisfied with the taste of my Kimchi.    I don't usually like to let it go more than a week, because here in California where it is warm, I have had my Kimchi go moldy in the cubbard if left too long.  In Korea where they bury the Kimchi in special pens in the back yard to ferment, it can last for the entire winter!

Since my kimchi had reduced in volume (all on it's own- not from me eating it all week!) I transferred it to a new jar and put it in the refrigerator.  It will last a few weeks, but it will continue to ferment even in the cold, so it is best to eat it right away.


Step 10


So what can you do with your new batch of homemade kimchi? 

Well, I like to eat it by itself as a snack.  I also like to make Korean BBQ ribs and serve it as a side-dish.  In Korea, no meal is complete without an assortment of Kimchis to go with it.

I also like to make Korean hot pot soup and add the Kimchi right in the soup.

Here is a photo and recipe from the Korean Kimchi website above

and another recipe from the Korean Cultural Center of Los Angeles

Kimchi is really easy to make and can be done with all kinds of vegetables.  I have done this exact same process with cucumbers and they come out nice as well and in less time, but this spicy Korean pickle recipe is even better! Smiley  If you get a chance, try them out!

oi sobagi



Well it's a month later and I finally polished off my kimchi.  It kept really well in the refrigerator in my mason jar for the entire month.  I polished off the last little bit by making my own batch of kimchi chigae.  It was yummy :)

 kimchi chigae

-cris {moscomment}

Last Updated ( Thursday, 18 May 2006 )
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