How to Make Kimchi

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Kimchi is a traditional Korean fermented vegetable dish, primarily made with napa cabbage and Korean radishes, combined with a range of seasonings and spices. It's a staple in Korean cuisine and is enjoyed both as a side dish and as an ingredient in various dishes. The fermentation process gives kimchi its unique tangy flavor and is also responsible for its numerous health benefits, including improved digestion and immune system support.


  1. Napa cabbage (also known as Chinese cabbage)
  2. Korean radish (or daikon radish)
  3. Coarse sea salt
  4. Korean chili flakes (gochugaru)
  5. Garlic
  6. Ginger
  7. Green onions
  8. Fish sauce or salted shrimp (for traditional versions)
  9. Sugar
  10. Water

Steps to Make Kimchi:

  1. Prepare the Vegetables:

    • Rinse the napa cabbage and Korean radish thoroughly.
    • Cut the cabbage into quarters and slice the radish into thin matchsticks or cubes.
    • Place the cabbage and radish in a large bowl and sprinkle with coarse sea salt, tossing to coat evenly.
    • Let the vegetables sit for about 2-3 hours to draw out the water.
  2. Make the Kimchi Paste:

    • In a blender or food processor, combine garlic, ginger, green onions, Korean chili flakes (gochugaru), sugar, and either fish sauce or salted shrimp.
    • Blend the ingredients until you get a smooth paste. You can adjust the amount of chili flakes depending on your desired level of spiciness.
  3. Combine and Mix:

    • After the vegetables have wilted and released their water, rinse them thoroughly to remove the salt.
    • Squeeze out excess water and transfer the vegetables to a large mixing bowl.
    • Add the kimchi paste to the vegetables and mix well, ensuring that all the vegetables are well coated with the paste.
  4. Fermentation:

    • Pack the kimchi into clean glass jars, pressing down firmly to remove any air pockets.
    • Leave some space at the top of the jars as the kimchi will expand during fermentation.
    • Pour a little water into each jar to create a brine that covers the vegetables.
    • Seal the jars tightly and let them sit at room temperature for 1-5 days, depending on your preference for fermentation level and taste.
    • Check the kimchi daily and press down on the vegetables to release any air bubbles.
  5. Storing and Serving:

    • Once the kimchi has reached your desired level of fermentation, transfer the jars to the refrigerator to slow down the fermentation process.
    • Kimchi can be stored in the refrigerator for several months and even up to a year, although its flavor and texture may change over time.
    • Serve kimchi as a side dish with rice, use it as a topping for noodles or soups, or incorporate it into various Korean dishes like kimchi fried rice or kimchi jjigae (kimchi stew).

Tips for Making Kimchi:

  • Use gloves when handling Korean chili flakes (gochugaru) to avoid skin irritation.
  • Adjust the amount of chili flakes to suit your taste preference. More chili flakes will make the kimchi spicier.
  • Traditional kimchi often includes fish sauce or salted shrimp for added flavor and fermentation. However, you can make vegan kimchi by omitting these ingredients or using alternatives like miso paste or soy sauce.
  • Make sure to use clean, sterilized jars for storing kimchi to prevent contamination and spoilage.
  • Experiment with adding other vegetables or fruits like carrots, cucumbers, or apples to create different variations of kimchi.

Making kimchi at home allows you to customize the flavors and ingredients to suit your preferences while enjoying the health benefits of this fermented dish. With a few simple ingredients and some patience for the fermentation process, you can create delicious homemade kimchi that will enhance your meals and introduce you to the rich and vibrant flavors of Korean cuisine.