Kimchi Recipe – Authentic Korean Kimchi Recipe

Kimchi Recipe – Authentic Korean Kimchi Recipe

Are you looking for the authentic Korean kimchi recipe? Look no further.  This kimchi recipe is your answer.

Kimchi is the national dish of Korea. Just like any family in Korea, my mom and my grandma made lots of kimchi at home when I was growing up. Since I was little, I was put in charge of cleaning vegetables and peeling/grinding garlic to make kimchi. I wasn’t crazy about it back then because it was a tedious task. However, as I have gotten older, it has become such a precious memory. I truly cherish the time I spent with my grandmother in the kitchen.
My mother is a wonderful cook, but my grandma was a true master.

Kimchi (Kim-Chi, 김치)
Kimchi (Kim-Chi, 김치) [br][br]MAKES 2-2.5 quarts, about 2kg [br][br] [br]Total: 2 hours Active: 1 hour [br][br]BEVERAGE TIP: Mak-geol-li (Korean rice wine) OR an Abbey ale, specifically Leffe Blond (I love this beer, and it talks to Kimchi!)
  • 1 medium napa cabbage (4-5 inch/10-13cm diameter of head)
  • coarse sea salt for brine[br]
  • [br][b]STARCH MIXTURE[/b]
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour or sweet rice flour[br]
  • [br][b]SEASONING MIXTURE[/b]
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled, julienned Daikon radish (substitute with red radish if needed)
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onion
  • 1/2 cup [url href=””]gochugaru (Korean chili pepper flakes)[/url]
  • *adjust amount to your preference of spicy level
  • 1/4 medium onion
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp. minced ginger
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. & 1/4 tsp. fish sauce
  • (skip fish sauce if vegan recipe is required
  • 1 Tbsp. coarse sea salt
  • *use extra 2 tsp. coarse sea salt if fish sauce is not used
  1. Discard the loose outer leaves and quarter the cabbage lengthwise. Trim the root if it is dirty.
  2. Lift each leaf and sprinkle salt on each layer. Use a pinch, about 1/8 teaspoon salt for each large leaf. Salt a little more on the thick, stalky parts and a little less on thin leafy parts. It will take about 2-3 teaspoons of salt for each quarter of cabbage.[br]*Use the salt sparingly. A slow brining process will help the cabbage to stay crunchy. Too much salt will make the cabbage tough and too salty. Too little salt will leave the cabbage with too much water in it.
  3. Set aside the cabbage quarters, cut side up, at room temperature to brine. Turn them every 30 minutes so they will brine evenly. Periodically, check to make sure they are not getting over-brined.[br]~ At 70F/21C the brining process will take about 1 hour and 20 minutes.
  4. Once they are brined, submerge the cabbage quarters in cold water. Then, rinse them thoroughly and rest them, cut side down, to drain the excess water. Set aside.[br]*Brining time varies depending on the temperature, kind/amount of salt, and the size of the cabbage.[br]*To check the optimal brining level of the cabbage, you should use the “Bend Test”:
  5. Select 3-4 thicker leaves from across the cabbage to test. Bend them into a ‘U’ shape one at a time. When they are easily bendable, but there is a small amount of resistance left (so they’ll snap if you fold it all the way into a ‘V’), this is what you are looking for. You should also be able to fold a full quarter cabbage almost in half without snapping any leaves. The majority of the cabbage leaves should remain fairly opaque and only exhibit some translucency at the edges and in the thinnest areas.
  6. In the meantime, make the starch mixture, combine the flour and water in a small pot, mixing it together well. Once it starts bubbling around the edges of the pot, begin stirring regularly. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook it for another 2-3 minutes until its consistency resembles that of pudding. Set aside to cool.[br]*If sweet rice flour is used, cook it for just one minute once it comes to a boil.
  7. Next, prepare the seasoning mixture by combining the minced onion, garlic, ginger, sugar, fish sauce, sea salt, gochugaru, starch mixture, radish, and green onion in a large mixing bowl. Mix all ingredients well. Season to taste.[br]*It should be extra salty and semi sweet since it’s going to season the whole cabbage.[br]*Guchugaru will stain, use a non-stainable bowl.
  8. Lift each leaf and distribute the seasoning mixture between each leaf (about 1/2 to 1 tablespoons) until all leaves are well coated with the mixture. Then, coat the outer leaves with a bit more of the mixture. Finally, fold the quarter cabbage in half taking care to wrap its outer leaves around itself and place it in a jar.[br]*Wear cooking gloves ~ Otherwise, the guchugaru will burn your hands for hours.
  9. Repeat step 6 with the remaining cabbage quarters. Then, collect any remaining loose leaves and use them to mop up the last of the seasoning mixture. Add them to the jar as well, and push all the cabbage down firmly. Finally, close the lid tightly.[br]*Make sure to leave some head-space in the jar. It should not be filled more than 80% full. If the jar does not have ample headspace the kimchi may overflow the vessel as it ferments.
  10. Leave the kimchi to ferment at room temperature for 1-4 days OR to your liking. Then, refrigerate once it has reached the desired amount of fermentation. If your prefer fresh kimchi then skip this counter aging period and refrigerate immediately.[br]*I usually leave it at room temperature for 1-2 days in the summer or 3-4 days in the winter because I like my kimchi a little tangy. If you leave it at room temperature, taste a little everyday to check on its fermentation progress. Be sure to push it down firmly after tasting so that your kimchi stays submerged as possible in its own juices.[br]*When I make a large amount of kimchi (5-6 heads of cabbage) I refrigerate half of it immediately. The other half, I leave at room temperature for quicker fermentation. By the time I have consumed the kimchi I left on the counter, the other half in the fridge will have reached a prime level of fermentation.
  11. To Serve: Take a quarter head of cabbage out of the jar allowing the bulk of its juices to drip back into to the jar. Cut it into 1-2 inch wide slices, cross wise, and serve.
[b]Gopher’s Tips:[/b][br]DO AHEAD: The brined cabbage and seasoning mixture can be kept in the refrigerator for up to two days if you prefer not to do everything within one day’s time.[br]Seasoning with fish sauce will definitely add more depth of flavor. Sea salt will add a bright quality to the kimchi. Adjust the ratio between the two ‘salts’ to suit your taste.

Trouble finding Gochugaru?  Here is an online source for Korean Chili Pepper flakes.

Related post you might like, Simple Kimchi: Cut-Up Kimchi

27 Thoughts on “Kimchi Recipe – Authentic Korean Kimchi Recipe (Kim-Chi, 김치)”

    • I strongly recommend using coarse sea salt instead of kosher salt. The finer salt tends to make brine process go too quickly which changes the texture and saltiness of the cabbage.
      You should be able to find coarse sea salt at most grocery stores.
      If you want to experiment with kosher salt, I would start with less salt than my recipe suggests.
      Good luck!


        • Hi Shortz, That’s awesome. Great job! I would love to know if your kimchi stays crunchy in a couple of months. That is if you don’t eat it all before then =). You might be onto something!

    • Can I use other veggies? baby bok choi, bean sprouts etc? and if so, how do I know what should be brined or par boiled? have you ever added herbs, like cilantro perhaps?
      Also, is it ok to add a bit of sesame oil?
      I’m guessing there are tried and true traditional twists on kimchi, what do you like the best?

      • Hi Foodlover,

        Most def… Hardier vegetables will work better for a longer period fermentation, but even more tender vege would work if you eat it within one or two weeks. Bok Choi will be a good one to try out. I have not used herbs, but why not? Kimchi recipe usually doesn’t call for boiling though.. so I would experiment with brining first.
        It’s hard to pick favorite.. I like them all =)

  • Can you cut the cabbage into pieces before mixing it with the seasoning? Or is there a purpose to keeping the cabbage “whole” like that?.. Wouldn’t cutting it up first make it easier to squeeze into the jar without air in-between and better for fermenting?

    Also.. what constitutes fish sauce exactly? I live in Europe and wonder where I could find it. There are Asian stores around but I wouldn’t know what to look for in a fish sauce! 😀

    • Hi Tyffannosaurus!

      Yes, you can cut the cabbage into pieces, but then you would actually be making another style of kimchi 😉 The style I demonstrate in the video is a very classic/traditional recipe. I’ll make another video for a cut-up kimchi recipe in the future.

      I am working on video of how to serve kimchi which’ll help you to understand why I made a whole kimchi =). So stay tuned.
      In the mean time, you can try this recipe,

      Good question about fish sauce, I’ll make an ingredient video of that since you asked =).
      Korean fish sauce is usually made from anchovy or shrimp, salt, and water. You can use any fish sauce as long as it’s made from some sort of fish and salt. Broadly, fish sauce is a liquid extracted from the fermentation of fish with sea salt. Make sure to check the ingredients of the product to make sure there is no msg in it.

      Good luck with your kimchi making =).

  • Is gochugaru the same as the Paste and powder?? I want to buy some and went to where you said I could purchase but it does not list the gochugaru just the paste and powder…

  • Hi Sun
    I’ve made this and it was great!
    I fermented the kimchi for three days, as I like it a little sour, before keeping it in the refrigerator. Gave some to my sisters and will be making another batch very soon!
    Thank you for sharing the recipe!

    • Hi Joyce! I just saw this your comment… That’s fantastic!
      Oh.. yeah.. I agree, I like it a little tangy. I am so glad to hear that you like the recipe^^. Thanks for sharing your Korean cooking adventure!

  • Hi Hungry Gopher,
    Just finished making This Kimchi. The session went very good, and it looked a lot like yours, except the seasoning mixture was not as pasty looking as yours. After getting all the Kimchi in two jars, there does not seem to be any liquid. Will water still come out of the cabbage while it ferments? Should I add a little salt water if it stays dry over the next few days? Just curious. Looking forward to trying my new cabbage dish in a week or so. Thanks for the video, it was very good.


    • I should have been a little patient and my question would have been answered. The next day each jar has plenty of liquid, and it is doing just great. Probably give it one more day and then into the fridge. Thanks again for the video. I think next time I will cut up the cabbage into bite size pieces. Later,


      • Hi Bill,
        Thank you so much for the comment! It’s really exciting to hear that you found my recipe video helpful ^^
        Glad to hear that you already got the answer from your kimchi ^^ It sounds like you kimchi fermentation is going very well like you said.
        My kimchi fried rice video is going to be published next month, so try that recipe out with your kimchi^^.
        Good idea about making cut up kimchi. I do plan on making a cut-up kimchi recipe in a couple of months, so stay tuned~

        Btw, I like your handle “Brewbetter”^^



  • Hi Hungry Gopher,
    Do you ever add salted squid, shrimp, etc. to your kimchi? If so, how much would you use for the recipe above for one head of cabbage?

    Thank you, drbobl

    • Hi Dr. Bob,

      I have used salted shrimp and other salted fish, but never measured it… That being said, if salted shrimp is used (or other salted fish) instead of fish sauce, I’ll start with 1 Tbsp and taste the seasoning mixture. You can always add more as you taste the seasoning mixture for your preferred salt level. As I mentioned in my recipe, it should be extra salty and semi sweet since it’s going to season the whole cabbage. I hope this helps.

      Good luck!


      • Hi Gopher, just a quick question. I’m using a one gallon jar for one head of cabbage and spice mixture. it’s about two thirds full during fermentation. Do I need to have more in the jar? I have had it in the pantry for three days now, and it seems to be doing ok, just not sure. second question is, do I want this completely sealed during out of fridge fermentation? Thanks for your help!! The PRE fermentation flavors are great, so it can only keep getting better!! thanks

        • Hi Hollywood,

          No, you don’t need more in the jar. It’s good that there is some head-space in the jar.
          No, it does not have to be sealed. Closing the lid tightly should do the job. Since it’s been three days, taste a little to check on its fermentation progress. Be sure to push it down firmly after tasting so that your kimchi stays submerged as much as possible in its own juices.
          It sounds like you are on the right track. Welcome to the world of Kimchi^^
          I hope this helps~

          Good luck!


  • Hi Gopher,

    What can I use instead of fish sauce? You said by adding extra salt, but is there something else? If you know, can you also tell me the exact amount I need to use. Thanks!

  • Hi Heaven94,

    You can use salted fermented shrimp if you like. Here is the information about salted shrimp,

    It’s hard to give you an exact amount to use since the sodium level will vary depending on the product. My recommendation is to start with 2 tsp and taste it as you make the seasoning mixture. You can always add more, but it’s hard to recover when it gets too salty. I hope this helps. Good luck!

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