Classic Cabbage Kimchi

Locale: Korea

Source: Young Jin Song, The Food and Cooking of Korea [p. 65]

Serves: 10


  • 1 head Chinese cabbage
  • salt

For the marinade

  • 0.25 c coarse sea salt
  • 2 tbs salt

For the seasoning

  • 2 oysters (optional)
  • 1/2 Korean white radish (or daikon), peeled, cut into thin strips
  • 1 oz Korean chives, cut into 2-inch lengths
  • 1 oz minari, watercress, or arugula
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped fine
  • 0.5 oz fresh ginger, chopped fine
  • 1/2 onion, chopped fine
  • 1/2 Asian pear or kiwi fruit, chopped fine
  • 1 chestnut, sliced
  • 3 scallions, sliced
  • 0.25 c Korean chilli powder, or 2 tbs Korean chilli powder and 2 tbs smoked Spanish paprika
  • 0.5 c Thai fish sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 red chili, sliced


  1. Cut off the base of the cabbage. Cut lengthwise into quarters. Cover with cold water and 2 tbs salt. Let soak 2 hours.

  2. Drain cabbage into colander and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Let stand 4 hours.

  3. Remove oysters from shell (if using), and sprinkle with salt.

  4. Rinse cabbage leaves, and chop at 2-inch intervals. Combine the seasoning incredients, and add cabbage. Stir to coat evenly, then pack into an airtight container. Leave to stand at room temperature for 5 hours, then refrigerate for a minimum of 24 hours. Kimchi can be stored in refrigerator for up to 5 months. After this long it may be too strong to eat raw, but can still be used in stir-fries.


  1. I came up with the less spicy version, substituting paprika for half of the chilli powder. I used coarse Korean chilli powder. I used kosher salt for the brine, then coarse Korean sea salt -- larger and more irregular than kosher salt. I used canned oysters, chopped fine, sprinkled with kosher salt. I used a daikon, cut into julienne strips, and a large Korean pear, also julienned -- the pear was sweeter than expected, shaped more like an apple but larger. I didn't have watercress or any substitute, so skipped that. I used 3-4 fresh water chestnuts, peeled, sliced, and diced. Also skipped the red chili. I generally exceeded the specified times, leaving the mixed kimchi at room temperature overnight, and refrigerating 48 hours (occasionally shaking the mixture up) before serving.

  2. My idea to cut the cabbage into 2-inch pieces. I figured this would make it easier to coat all the leaves with seasonings, as well as save chopping into bite-sized pieces when serving.

  3. You can also make a white kimchi, by leaving out the chili powder. I've seen other things added, like thinly sliced red bell pepper and pine nuts.


  1. 2017-03-14: