· ·

Napa Cabbage Kimchi (Authentic & Delicious!)

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy for details.

Make fresh kimchi at home and you won’t ever buy it again from your grocery store! Kimchi is a staple of Korean cuisine, a napa cabbage fermented with Korean radish in a delicious spicy seasoning paste. This recipe is easy to make, super addictive, and most importantly full of flavors!

kimchi with napa cabbage korean traditional side dish fermented cabbage in a spicy sauce with red chilli flakes

Have you ever wondered how to make fresh kimchi at home? Does it look difficult to you? Well in fact not that much! There are different ways to make traditional kimchi however I will show you what is for me the quickest way. Aside brining time, preparing this kimchi will take you 30 minutes at most.

This way you’ll always have FRESH KIMCHI in your fridge, ready to serve with a fabulous dolsot bibimbap, your favorite bulgogi. or even a delicious doenjang jjigae just like at the restaurant!

Kimchi doesn’t necessarily have to be served as a side dish, you can also use it as a filling such as in my Korean folded kimbap or make some super crispy kimchi pancakes. It’s also perfect to accompany or use as a filling for Korean rice balls (jumeokbap).

What is kimchi?

In Korean, 김치 kimchi refers to any vegetable that has been brined, seasoned then fermented. The most common type of kimchi is the one made with napa cabbage however there are hundreds of types of kimchi made with different vegetables.

Back at the time, kimchi was stored in large earthenware jars and buried underground for aging until spring arrives. You will see this in some Korean dramas such as Crash Landing on You (one of my favorite recent dramas). Nowadays, you can purchase some airtight containers that are made to ferment kimchi and prevent any smell from spreading around your refrigerator.

Napa cabbage kimchi is known for its health benefits. Kimchi is full of probiotics, consuming these healthy bacteria can help maintain healthy digestion, boost your immune system, reduce inflammation and even slow down aging.

Typically napa cabbage kimchi is made by brining a Nappa cabbage with coarse sea salt, the cabbage is then seasoned together with Korean radish in a chili paste. The cabbage is then left to ferment for 2 days at room temperature and then 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

Which type of salt can I use?

Korean coarse sea salt is the best to make Korean fermented food. It will give you the right texture (crispiness) and taste. Coarse sea salt melts more slowly than refined salt helping vegetables to absorb the saltiness gradually. Another alternative is to use any other sea salt. Sea salt contains more minerals and water which makes the brining process faster and more effective. DO NOT use table salt. It is not at all appropriate for fermentation.

How spicy should kimchi be?

According to how spicy you like kimchi, you can add or reduce the amount of gochugaru (Korean chili flakes) in your seasoning paste. DO NOT use any other type of chili other than Korean chili flakes. It will give you a totally different result and taste. I personally enjoy kimchi at a normal spiciness level, not too much.

For a small to medium cabbage of 1.6kg / 3.5 lbs, I normally use between 65g / ⅔ cup and 75g / ¾ cup gochugaru.

Can I replace shrimps in kimchi?

This recipe is actually my mum’s. She uses raw shrimp in her kimchi (I personally love it this way too) but 새우젓 (saeujeot – tiny salted shrimp) is the most commonly used. You can buy it in a pot at your Korean grocery store. Some also like to substitute with fresh raw oyster or raw squid, but I’m not a fan of those in general so I’ve never made kimchi with those myself.

How to store kimchi?

Kimchi must be stored in an airtight container, the ideal is to use those airtight plastic containers specifically made for making fermented food, not only do they prevent air from entering hence from forming mold but they also prevent the smell from spreading all over your fridge.

Once the kimchi is placed in your container, cover it with some plastic wrap and pat it down on the kimchi to avoid any air bubbles. Air bubbles will result in mold. Every time you have some kimchi, replace the plastic wrap on top.

How long does kimchi last?

The fermentation process includes 2 days at room temperature and then 2 weeks in the fridge. It can be eaten straight away if you like young kimchi, but full flavors will develop after 2 weeks only. After that, the older the kimchi is, the more sour it gets. If using aged, sour kimchi to prepare dishes, add some sugar to counter the sourness.

Kimchi is claimed to last for years, however, I personally prefer consuming it within 2-3 months at maximum.

How to prepare kimchi?

Brine the cabbage

  1. Cut the end of the cabbage in half and tear it into two halves. Make an incision in each half.
  1. Soak it in water so that the leaves are wet and absorb the salt more easily afterwards.
  1. Sprinkle sea salt in between each leaf, make sure to add more salt on the stems which are thicker.
  1. Let the cabbage halves rest for 3h, after 3h turn the halves around and let them rest for another 3h.
  2. After 6 hours, rinse the cabbage into cold water 3 to 4 times to ensure all salt is drained away.
  3. Tear each cabbage halve part where you made the incision.
  4. Drain water putting cabbage upside down for 1h.

Season the cabbage

  1. Mix cold water and rice flour into a pot and turn the stove on to medium heat. Stir well and add the sugar. Simmer until it reaches a thick paste. Take it off the heat and pour it into a bowl. Let it cool down for 30 minutes.
  1. Add garlic, ginger, green onion, shrimp, gochugaru, anchovy sauce and radish to the rice flour mixture. Mix well.
  1. Spread the seasoning on each cabbage leaf using gloves to protect your hands. I love these Korean gloves, they cover your arms up to your elbow and prevent you from getting that kimchi paste all over your arms : )
  1. Fold the cabbage quarters in half and place them in an airtight container. Fill the container up to 80% of its capacity at maximum. Push the kimchi down to get rid of any air holes. Place plastic wrap on top of the kimchi and ensure that there is no air hole on top. Seal the container.
  1. Leave the container for about 2 days at room temperature for fermentation to start. After 2 days, place the kimchi in the fridge to keep fermenting while refrigerated. Leave the kimchi to ferment for 2 weeks however if you like young kimchi, you could eventually start eating it straight away.
  2. Every time you open the container, make sure you pat down the kimchi and seal it correctly to avoid mold appearing.

Have a craving for some Korean spicy food? Try these!

RECIPES IN YOUR INBOX? Don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter to receive the latest recipe updates delivered for free directly to your inbox! Oh, and you will also find me on Youtube, Instagram, Facebook and TikTok. Come say hi and leave me a message, it is always a pleasure to connect with all of you!

Thanks so much for stopping by! xx

signature
kimchi with napa cabbage korean traditional side dish fermented cabbage in a spicy sauce with red chilli flakes

Napa Cabbage Kimchi 배추김치

Make fresh kimchi at home and you won't ever buy it again from your grocery store! Kimchi is a staple of Korean cuisine, a napa cabbage fermented with Korean radish in a delicious spicy seasoning paste. This recipe is easy to make, super addictive, and most importantly full of flavors!
5 from 7 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Korean
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Resting Time: 6 hours
Total Time: 6 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 1 cabbage
Calories per serving: 556kcal
Author: Emma Choi

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 1 napa cabbage | +- 1.6 kg / 3.5 lbs cabbage is used in this recipe
  • 120 g coarse sea salt

Kimchi seasoning:

  • 250 ml cold water
  • 1 tbsp glutinous rice flour
  • 1 tbsp white sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ tbsp ginger, minced
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 3 fresh shrimps, chopped
  • 65 g gochugaru | Korean chili flakes
  • 2 tbsp anchovy sauce
  • 200 g Korean radish

Instructions

Brine the cabbage

  • Cut the end of the cabbage in half and tear it into two halves. Make an incision in each half.
  • Soak it in water so that the leaves are wet and absorb the salt more easily afterwards.
  • Sprinkle sea salt in between each leaf, make sure to add more salt on the stems which are thicker.
  • Let the cabbage halves rest for 3h, after 3h turn the halves around and let them rest for another 3h.
  • After 6 hours, rinse the cabbage into cold water 3 to 4 times to ensure all salt is drained away.
  • Tear each cabbage halve part where you made the incision.
  • Drain water putting cabbage upside down for 1h.

Season the cabbage

  • Mix cold water and rice flour into a pot and turn the stove on to medium heat. Stir well and add the sugar. Simmer until it reaches a thick paste. Take it off the heat and pour it into a bowl. Let it cool down for 30min.
  • Add garlic, ginger, green onion, shrimps, gochugaru, anchovy sauce and radish to the rice flour mixture. Mix well.
  • Spread the seasoning on each cabbage leaf using gloves to protect your hands.
  • Fold the cabbage quarters in half and place them in an airtight container. Fill the container up to 80% of its capacity at maximum. Push the kimchi down to get rid of any air holes. Place plastic wrap on top of the kimchi and ensure that there is no air hole on top. Seal the container.
  • Leave the container for about 2 days at room temperature for fermentation to start. After 2 days, place the kimchi in the fridge to keep fermenting while refrigerated. Leave the kimchi to ferment for 2 weeks however if you like young kimchi, you could eventually start eating it straight away.
  • Every time you open the container, make sure you pat down the kimchi and seal it correctly to avoid mold appearing.

Notes

1. If you can’t find Korean radish, you could either substitute it with the Japanese daikon radish or omit the radish from the recipe.
2. If you don’t have any anchovy sauce, feel free to replace it with traditional fish sauce.
3. For brining, do not use regular salt, coarse sea salt only is appropriate to brine cabbage.
4. You can replace fresh shrimps with 2 tbsp 새우젓 (saeujeot – salted shrimp). This ingredient is the most commonly used for kimchi however my family recipe uses fresh shrimp instead (which is also my favorite).

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 556kcalCarbohydrates: 108gProtein: 31gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 7gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 48mgSodium: 51417mgPotassium: 4207mgFiber: 41gSugar: 48gVitamin A: 22383IUVitamin C: 300mgCalcium: 1120mgIron: 16mg
Tried this recipe? Take a pic and mention @thatcutedish on Instagram, I’d love to see all your creations! Don’t forget to leave a rating and comment below : )

Similar Posts

Leave a Comment & Rating

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating