Napa cabbage kimchi

Tongbaechu-kimchi 통배추김치

Hello everybody!
Today I’m going to show you how to make classic, spicy, traditional napa cabbage kimchi called tongbaechu-kimchi, a.k.a. baechu-kimchi or pogi-kimchi. But this dish is so common and iconic among Koreans that we simply call it “kimchi.” When people talk about kimchi, this is the dish they’re referring to, despite the fact that there are many kinds of kimchi in Korean cuisine, and many made with napa cabbage, too.

Over the years I’ve posted recipes for a few of them, but I’ve never made an in-depth video for making tongbaechu-kimchi! I’ve made a video for mak-kimchi (easy kimchi), which is very similar but is easier because you to chop up the cabbage first, and I’ve made an ultra simple yangbaechu-kimchi (emergency kimchi). Many years ago I even posted a recipe showing how to make baechu-kimchi with kkakdugi in one batch. But until now, I’ve never posted the most classic and traditional napa cabbage kimchi.


This kimchi uses the whole cabbage leaf, which makes it more labor-intensive than the other ones on my website, because you’ll need to take time to spread the spicy paste leaf by leaf. It’s more work, but this is the traditional style and if you can make this kind of kimchi well, you can consider yourself good at Korean cooking.

As I mention in the video, my mom used to make kimchi from 200 heads of cabbage! This was kimjang kimchi, made with her friends at the beginning of winter, and meant to last until the spring. 3 to 4 of her friends would come over and help her chop vegetables and most importantly, spread the paste on the leaves. This always needs to be done by hand. They would bring their own rubber gloves, and spend the day talking and laughing, and always had pollock stew or beef radish soup for lunch. They had a lot of fun!

At the end of the day they would take some kimchi home with them, but my mom would get all the rest, which lasted my whole family through the winter. And when my mom’s friends needed to make their winter kimchi, my mom brought her gloves over to their houses and helped them, like they did for her.

In the video I also show you how to ferment it in a traditional onggi. Using an onggi is not mandatory, but for those of you who have one already, this is how you use it! If you don’t have one, just use a BPA-free plastic container, or a glass container.

I answer many other frequently asked questions about kinchi-making in this video:

I hope you enjoy the recipe, and if you love kimchi, I encourage you to make your own kimchi at home. It’s delicious, easy, and a fun thing to do!

kimchi_onggi (포기김치)


Makes about 8 pounds (3.6 kg) of Kimchi
For salting cabbage:

  • 6 pounds napa cabbage (3 to 4 heads of medium napa cabbage)
  • ½ cup Kosher salt


For making porridge:

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons sweet rice flour (glutinous rice flour)
  • 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar (brown or white sugar)


  • 2 cups radish matchsticks
  • 1 cup carrot matchsticks
  • 7 to 8 green onions, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped Asian chives (buchu), optional (substitute with 3 green onions, chopped)
  • 1 cup water dropwort (minari), optional

Seasonings and spices:


Prepare and salt the cabbage:

  1. If the cabbage cores stick out too much, trim them off.
  2. To split a cabbage in half without shredding the densely packed leaves inside, first cut a short slit in the base of the cabbage, enough to get a grip on either half, and then gently pull the halves apart so the cabbage splits open. kimchi_cut cabbage
  3. Cut a slit through the core of each half, 2 inches above the stem. You want the cabbage leaves to be loose but still attached to the core.napa cabbage_cut (배추)
  4. Dunk the halves in a large basin of water to get them wet. Sprinkle the salt between the leaves by lifting up every leaf and getting salt in there. Use more salt closer to the stems, where the leaves are thicker.Salting cabbage cabbage_salting (배추 소금절이기)
  5. Let the cabbages rest for 2 hours. Turn over every 30 minutes, so they get well salted. From time to time you can ladle some of the salty water from the bottom of the basin over top of the cabbages if you want to.kimchi_cabbage salting (배추소금절이기) kimchi_cabbage salting (배추소금절이기)
  6. After 2 hours, wash the cabbage halves a few times under cold running water. Giving them a good washing, to remove the salt and any dirt. As you wash, split the halves into quarters along the slits you cut into earlier. Cut off the cores, and put them in a strainer over a basin so they can drain well.

kimchi-cabbage wash (배추씻기)

While the cabbage is salting for 2 hours, and in between the times you’re turning it over, you can make the porridge:

  1. Combine the water and the sweet rice flour in a small pot. Mix well with a wooden spoon and let it cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes until it starts to bubble. Add the sugar and cook 1 more minute, stirring. Remove from the heat and let it cool off completely.
  2. Pour cooled porridge into a large mixing bowl. Add garlic, ginger, onion, fish sauce, fermented salted shrimp, and hot pepper flakes. Mix well with the wooden spoon until the mixture turns into a thin paste.salted fermented shrimp (saeujeot: 새우젓)kimchi_seasoningskimchi_paste (김치양념)kimchi paste
  3. Add the radish, carrot, and green onion, plus the Asian chives (or more green onions) and the water dropwort if you’re using them. Mix well.Kimchi making (김치)kimchi paste (김치속) kimchi paste

Make kimchi:

  1. Spread some kimchi paste on each cabbage leaf. When every leaf in a quarter is covered with paste, wrap it around itself into a small packet, and put into your jar, plastic container, or onggi.
  2. Eat right away, or let it sit for a few days to ferment.

kimchi makingwhole-cabbage-kimchifresh-kimchi (포기김치)

On fermentation:

  1. The kimchi will start fermenting a day or two at room temperature, depending on the temperature and humidity of your room. The warmer and more humid it is, the faster the kimchi will ferment. Once it starts to ferment it will smell and taste sour, and pressing on the top of the kimchi with a spoon will release bubbles from beneath.
  2. Once it starts to fermented, store in the refrigerator to use as needed. This slows down the fermentation process, which will make the kimchi more and more sour as time goes on.

fermented kimchi (포기김치)



  1. Lisatlh Singapore My profile page joined 11/16
    Posted November 28th, 2016 at 11:02 pm | # |

    Hi maangchi!
    I love kimchi and would like to try making it today!
    But i dont have kosher salt, can i subsitue it with normal salt?

    • sanne Munich My profile page joined 8/14
      Posted November 29th, 2016 at 7:13 am | # |

      “Kosher salt” just means to make it kosher, i.e. to draw out blood.
      Sea salt is the best to make kimchi.

    • Maangchi New York City My profile page joined 8/08
      Posted December 2nd, 2016 at 5:03 am | # |

      Yes, you can. Check this out, please.

    • dduelm Washington, DC My profile page joined 12/16
      Posted December 6th, 2016 at 12:22 pm | # |

      Hi, keep in mind that in case you did not know, Kosher salt is pure salt, that is sodium chloride, and “normal salt” I think you mean, is Iodized salt. I have read that using Iodized salt, since it has iodine in it, can impart unpleasant flavors and cause unexpected colors with the food. One example is when using iodized salt to brine meat. It can make the meat appear disturbingly pink and have an off taste. I agree that Kosher salt is best, and one can also use “Pickling salt” but be careful to use LESS pickling salt than one would use Kosher salt because the grain size of the Kosher salt is so much larger, you could accidentally use too much pickling salt, which resembles table sugar in grain size and texture. I hope this helps!

  2. SuzyCreamCheese Florida My profile page joined 1/15
    Posted November 27th, 2016 at 7:43 pm | # |

    I made Cabbage Kimchi using the recipe in your cookbook. Can’t wait to try fresh tomorrow. Very easy to make from the recipe.

    See full size image

  3. Jeffery Ohio, USA My profile page joined 11/16
    Posted November 22nd, 2016 at 5:37 pm | # |

    I made this Kimchi a few days ago. Due to food allergies, I had to leave out the fish sauce. I decided to try the kimchi today and it’s starting to get a little sour. It was delicious, but I can only imagine it will taste even better over time. Thank you Maangchi. I’m in love with all of your recipes.

    See full size image

  4. KellyK Iowa My profile page joined 11/16
    Posted November 19th, 2016 at 10:25 am | # |

    Hi Maangchi!

    I’m having a problem with my kimchi! Can someone help me? I made kimchi using this recipe for the first time. I put it all in a big jar and left it out on the counter for 36 hours to start fermenting. The jar filled with juice that the cabbage released and the kimchi that was submerged in the juices looks and tastes great! However, the kimchi that was above water level has a stronger sour smell and the red pepper past that used to be red turned yellow?! What did I do wrong?

    • Maangchi New York City My profile page joined 8/08
      Posted November 22nd, 2016 at 3:13 am | # |

      It sounds like your kimchi is well fermented. Give the kimchi good mix, press down, and keep in the fridge.

  5. Aeresmei7 Philippines My profile page joined 11/16
    Posted November 12th, 2016 at 11:04 pm | # |

    Hi Maangchi! Thank you very much for this recipe! I’m from the Philippines and I have always wanted to make my own kimchi but couldn’t because well I don’t know how and there are no ingredients available. I recently found a korean mart near our house and bought some ingredients there. though they didn’t have the fermented shrimp. Instead I bought “Fresh Alamang” that’s the small shrimp in our market and just fermented it in salt for a week… also tried your fermented squid… didn’t know if it would turn out ok. But it was actually really good… hehe… so I made the kimchi with your recipe but I made a mistake with the amount of garlic. I thought it wouldn’t be ok because it had that bitter after taste when I first tasted it. But I read here that I should ferment it a bit first. So I left in a shaded area of the house overnight (its very humid here) and when I tasted it again when I woke up it tasted great! I’m really Happy! My brother and I really love korean food… I’ll try cooking spicy rice cake next since I bought some gochujang. Again Thank you!

  6. TXChris Dallas, TX My profile page joined 11/16
    Posted November 10th, 2016 at 9:17 pm | # |

    After upwards of 8 years or so of trying to make kimchi off and on, and failing every time to get it right, I finally stumbled onto this video, the first one of yours I ever watched, recently. I’ve become a huge fan and now I not only have a batch of kimchi fermenting away under my sink, I plan on making doenjang-jigae tomorrow night for dinner to have with it! Thank you for sharing your knowledge and skill with us, Maangchi!

    • TXChris Dallas, TX My profile page joined 11/16
      Posted November 13th, 2016 at 12:08 am | # |

      UPDATE: I busted out the kimchi along with some rice, for dinner, tonight, and it was fantastic. Sour and just spicy enough. I may have let it stay under the sink a bit too long, but I like it anyway. I’m happy! 감사합니다!

  7. Sora93 Denmark My profile page joined 10/16
    Posted October 30th, 2016 at 3:17 pm | # |

    I have made this twice alone and once with a friend. I don’t always have all the ingredients, but with the cabbage, carrots, spring onions and seasoning I have had homemade kimchi in my fridge for a year. Love this recipe!
    The picture is of the kimchi I made Wednesday. It was bubbling away Thursday after work and is now resting in the fridge.

    See full size image

  8. paulinaj Bermuda My profile page joined 10/16
    Posted October 25th, 2016 at 12:40 am | # |

    Hello Maangchi!

    I lived in Korea for a few years, fell in love with kimchi, and finally decided to try making it myself. However, my kimchi tastes very strange. It has an unusually bitter aftertaste. I could not find saeujeot, so I used Thai shrimp paste with bean oil, and instead of buchu, I used Chinese flowering chives (garlic chives). Could these two substitutions be the cause of the odd flavour? Otherwise, I followed your recipe EXACTLY… or so I think?!

    P.S. I love your website and your cookbook ~ thank you! ^_^

  9. Cathy Wong Singapore My profile page joined 10/16
    Posted October 17th, 2016 at 1:41 pm | # |

    Thanks Maangchi! This is my 1st time made kimchi. The seasonings and spices taste very nice. Im so happy that finally i can prepare homemade kimchi. Now i’m going to ferment it.

    But i got a question about the cabbages. I accidently sprinkle double volume salt in the cabbages. So after 2hours, i tried to wash many times but the cabbages are still taste very salty. Is this normal or is about the amount of salt i put?

    Thanks again!

  10. Feli INFIRES by Korea Singapore My profile page joined 10/16
    Posted October 8th, 2016 at 12:59 am | # |

    Hello maangchi !!! 안녕하새요 my name is Feli 배소린 im 14 years old i love everything about korea especially cooking !! So i went to korean grocery store yesterday and brought so much so i decided to make KIMCHI !!!! And i made it !! Now i waiting for it to ferment THANK YOU SOO MUCH !!! 사랑해요 감사합니다 !!!

    See full size image

  11. Juansarmen España My profile page joined 10/16
    Posted October 6th, 2016 at 1:49 pm | # |

    Hi Maangchi!

    I already prepared your kimchi recipe and and as my girlfriend as me we love it! But I’ve got a question. Once you’ve prepared it how long can you conserve it in the fridge cause the flavour is changing by the time mando we’re worried if could it be dangerous.


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