Easy Homemade Kimchi takes a little time but once you make this delicious Korean side dish yourself, you’ll be hooked!
“Are you really going to eat that?”
“Yes and I can’t wait.”
That’s how the conversation typically goes when people see a jar of kimchi fermenting on my kitchen counter.
I made this recipe for the first time about a year ago having never tried kimchi in my life. I was anxious to try kimchi because of all the buzz lately about how fermented foods are good for your health. They’re loaded with good bacteria (aka probiotics) which means they provide immune system support along with being great for digestive health. I’m not making any health claims here–I just love this stuff!
What is kimchi?
Kimchi is considered the national dish of Korea. They boast over a hundred different types and no meal there is complete without it. The vegetables have a softened texture but retain a pleasant crunchy bite. Ingredients vary greatly, however the most well-known version has Napa or Chinese cabbage, scallion, ginger, a good salty brine and Korean red pepper which can be wicked hot.
Besides cookbooks, I also love recipe apps. This easy kimchi recipe is adapted from one in the Green Kitchen app by the publishers of the wonderful vegetarian blog, Green Kitchen Stories.
How to make Easy Homemade Kimchi:
This kimchi takes about a week from start to finish.
- Start with Napa (also known as Chinese cabbage) which is available at any grocery store. I find the best price for it at an international market in my area.
- Each head generally weighs two to three pounds.
- Slice the heads of cabbage into about two-inch rounds leaving the stem and bottom core behind.
- Take each “round,” and loosen it up into a large stainless steel bowl then salt generously with sea salt.
- Place a dinner plate and another heavy object on the plate and let that sit for 24 hours. The cabbage is going to wilt significantly because of the salt.
- Drain the excess water out several times in the 24 hour period.
- Rinse the wilted cabbage under cold running water.
- Squeeze out all the excess water, add the remaining ingredients and place in a non-reactive container such as a large glass jar. Close the lid and let sit on your counter for three days.
- After it has been sitting at room temperature for about three days, store in the refrigerator for four days. After that, it’s ready to eat.
Now, I’m not sure why, but my kimchi has never “bubbled.” I don’t know if that’s good or bad, but I’ve made this three times now. There has to be enough salt, vinegar and Korean red pepper in there to kill anything that is even considering lurking in there.
This Easy Homemade Kimchi will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks and up to a month. Enjoy!
Serve kimchi with:
- Korean Braised Chicken Thighs
- Vegan Korean Tofu Lettuce Wraps with Tahini Gochujang Sauce and Spicy Slaw
- Korean Braised Beef Short Ribs
- Tuna Kimchi Cakes with Soy – Ginger Dipping Sauce
- 2-3 pounds Napa cabbage
- 2-3 tablespoons coarse sea salt
- ¼ cup unseasoned rice vinegar - or as needed and to taste
- 2 tablespoons Korean red pepper
- 2 tablespoons honey - or to taste, preferably raw unpasteurized
- 2 tablespoons minced ginger
- 1 bunch scallions - white and light green part only, sliced into 1-inch pieces
- DAY 1: Slice cabbage into 2-inch thick rounds, leaving stem end and bottom core behind. Loosen into a stainless steel bowl. Sprinkle with sea salt and toss to combine.
- Set a plate over the cabbage and another heavy object such as a cast iron skillet on top to weigh it down. Set aside for 24 hours. Drain off excess water several times as necessary.
- DAY 2: Rinse the cabbage well under cold running water. Squeeze out as much water as possible.
- Add the rice vinegar, red pepper, honey, ginger and scallion and toss well to combine. Adjust rice vinegar and honey to taste. Cabbage should be somewhat covered with liquid.
- Place in a large non-reactive container such as a glass jar. Close the lid and leave at room temperature for 3 days.
- DAY 5: Place in refrigerator for 4 days.
These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you're using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.