How to Make Kimchi
Carrots aren't always used in kimchi and may be omitted. I find that including thick slices, however, makes the kimchi more versatile--more satisfying as a side dish or salad but still suitable as a condiment. For condiment use, any big pieces can be given a quick chop--or just eaten as is.

Yield: 7 packed cups (3 1/2 packed pint-size jars)

For the Kimchi

  • 1 (2-pound) head napa cabbage
  • 1/4 cup sea salt or kosher salt* (see notes)
  • Water**
  • 1 tablespoon grated or minced garlic (about 3-4 cloves)
  • 1 teaspoon grated or minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce***
  • 2 1/2 to 3 tablespoons Korean red pepper powder (also called gochugaru****)
  • 8 ounces (1 medium) daikon radish, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 to 4 large carrots, peeled and sliced (I like thicker slices in the 1/2-inch range; may slice thinner)
  • 4 scallions, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

Helpful Equipment

  • Cutting board and knife
  • Large, non-metallic bowl
  • Gloves (optional but recommended)
  • Plate and something to weigh the kimchi down, like a jar or can of beans
  • Colander
  • Small bowl
  • Clean 2-quart jar with canning lid or plastic lid*****


  1. Cut the cabbage lengthwise into quarters. (I leave the core in–it has crunchy appeal once fermented.) Cut each quarter crosswise into 1 to 2-inch-wide strips. Place the cabbage in a large bowl, and sprinkle it with the salt. Wearing gloves, if desired, massage the salt into the cabbage until it starts to soften a bit (1 to 2 minutes) and then add water (about 2 quarts, depending on dimensions of the bowl) to cover the cabbage. Put a plate over top, and use a jar or can to weigh the plate down. Let the mixture sit at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours.
  2. Once the cabbage has soaked, rinse it briefly under cold water and let drain in a colander for about 10 minutes. Rinse and dry the bowl that you used for soaking, and set it aside.
  3. For the spice mixture: Using the back of a fork in a small, wide bowl, mash the garlic, ginger, and sugar together until a fairly smooth paste forms. Mix in the fish sauce and the Korean red pepper powder (gochugaru). For a spice level similar to a medium salsa, I recommend 2 1/2 to 3 tablespoons of the powder; adjust up or down according to taste, staying within the 1 to 5 tablespoon range.
  4. Next, gently squeeze or shake any excess water from the cabbage, and return it to the bowl along with the radish, carrots, scallions, and seasoning paste. Using your hands, gently work the paste into the vegetables until they are thoroughly coated. (Gloves are optional but recommended to protect your hands from stains–and the spice sometimes irritates my skin.)
  5. Pack the kimchi into a large jar or a crock. Press down on the kimchi until any liquid rises to cover the vegetables. More liquid (brine) will develop as the kimchi ripens. When using a container with a wider opening, I use a plate with a jar or can on top to weight down the kimchi. Cover with a lid.
  6. Now you just have to wait. Allow the kimchi to stand at room temperature for 3 to 5 days. Bubbles may form and brine may seep out of the lid if using a jar that’s close to full. To catch any overflow, place a bowl or plate under the jar.
  7. Check the kimchi once each day, pressing down on the vegetables with the back of a spoon to allow the brine to rise up and cover them. After a few days, taste some of the kimchi and when it tastes ripe enough for your liking, transfer to the refrigerator. At this point, I usually transfer to several pint-size jars for convenient storage. (Just make sure to use a canning or plastic lid, which are non-reactive.) You may eat the kimchi right away, but the flavor will continue to develop. It’s best to be patient and wait another week–or two if you can. The refrigerator life of kimchi is at least month, but likely much longer.


  • *Use salt that is free of iodine and/or anti-caking agents, which can inhibit fermentation. I like to use sea salt, but kosher salt is a fine option.
  • **Chlorinated water has the potential to inhibit fermentation, so use spring or filtered water if possible. That said, I have rinsed the cabbage with tap water with no adverse effects.
  • ***The flavor of seafood gives kimchi an umami flavor. In Korea, different regions and families may use fish sauce, salted shrimp paste, oysters, and/or other seafood. For ease and flavor, I like fish sauce. For vegetarian kimchi and an easy-to-find option, Kha suggests soy sauce.
  • ****Korean red pepper powder can be found in Asian markets as well as in many larger grocery stores. It is typically sold in a bag and is not highly spicy. (I recently noticed that McCormick’s sell its own blend.) For more heat, you may use up to 1/3 cup of the chili powder. Kha sometimes uses about one cup of Asian garlic chili sauce in place of the red pepper powder and the garlic, and this is a great option if you cannot find the Korean chili powder..
  • *****A great option to a large canning jar is the ceramic insert and lid of a crock pot. You could also use an actual crock or even a large casserole dish–narrow and deep is better than flat and wide–just make sure it is not metal (which may be reactive) and that it has a lid.

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