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)

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  1. Danierusan Albuquerque, NM My profile page joined 9/16
    Posted September 29th, 2016 at 4:10 am | # |

    Thank you so much for this recipe! I am a big fan of yours! I have made your 갈비 recipe and Soft Tofu 찌개 recipe and really enjoyed it!

    I have made some kimchi before with my 어머니 before, but I am sure that yours is better. I can’t wait to make your recipe!

    Thank you for sharing!

  2. michelle751164 malaysia My profile page joined 9/16
    Posted September 28th, 2016 at 12:11 am | # |

    oh,the texture was very good,my friends and my family really loves it .Thanks for the fantastic food .

    See full size image

  3. Kendralee Scranton, PA My profile page joined 9/16
    Posted September 25th, 2016 at 11:42 pm | # |

    I want to try my hand at making kimchi but I don’t have the salted shrimp. Is there something ESE I can use as a substitute? Sardines perhaps?

  4. Dksaami Usa My profile page joined 9/16
    Posted September 21st, 2016 at 11:57 am | # |

    I’m using an onggi pot. Do I need to put a weight on the kim chi as it ferments like I do with sauerkraut to prevent spoilage?

  5. leeannetessier Québec My profile page joined 9/16
    Posted September 18th, 2016 at 9:32 pm | # |

    Hi Maangchi,

    I want to know if the fish sauce can be substituted for something else? Thank^^

  6. Valeria Ecuador My profile page joined 8/16
    Posted September 18th, 2016 at 6:13 pm | # |

    Tried searching for info and video not working. For this kimchee recipe, do I use 2 cups of the milder hot pepper flakes or the spicy hot pepper flakes? Thank you in advance.

  7. Auriestela Dominican Republic My profile page joined 9/16
    Posted September 6th, 2016 at 10:46 pm | # |

    Hi, i have not tried doing Kimchi before but I will love to do it and I wil like to have all the ingredients but in my country is really really difficult to find hot pepper flakes or fish sauce what should I do in this situation, I had the opportunity of trying Kimchi and I am exited to do it by my self. I love your videos, thanks for your time recording them.

  8. Adriel1989 Sarawak, Malaysia. My profile page joined 9/16
    Posted September 5th, 2016 at 12:38 am | # |


    I tried making using this recipe but the colour seems different. When I first made it, it was a rich red colour like in your pictures. But when I tried making it again, it just isn’t right. It is a deeper red, almost like brownish red. There also doesn’t seem to be as much juice or water when I ferment it. Am I doing it wrong? I followed the recipe to the letter.

    • Britaniola St. John's, Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada My profile page joined 9/16
      Posted September 8th, 2016 at 9:02 pm | # |

      Could it be that your red pepper flakes are not as fresh as they were when you made your first batch? Best to store it in the freezer in a plastic freezer bag with as much air taken out as possible.

      I had a bad batch one time with old hot pepper flakes. The taste was really off.

      I have a hard time getting hot pepper flakes where I live so when I get some, I get enough to last a long time. When I put it in the freezer, it stays fresher and lasts much longer.


  9. Jcabe1963 Coshocton, Ohio My profile page joined 9/16
    Posted September 5th, 2016 at 12:20 am | # |

    Sorry, that is supposed to say bulgogi in my previous post. Thanks auto correct.

  10. Jcabe1963 Coshocton, Ohio My profile page joined 9/16
    Posted September 5th, 2016 at 12:16 am | # |

    I made this again tonight. I couldn’t get Korean white radish, so I got turnip instead and added some Asian pear. Oh my…so good. I can’t wait to dig into this. I got some nullified marinating in the frig, and some fresh lettuce. Tomorrow night we will be eating some nullified wraps with fresh kimchi, rice, and ginger. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. 감사함니다 칭구!

  11. tdbwong brunei darussalam My profile page joined 8/16
    Posted August 28th, 2016 at 12:48 pm | # |

    Hi maangchi.

    I’ve tried a few of your recipes and it all turned out great. I wanted to make my own kimchi to go with my meals and the stews that i’m going to make in the future, but in your recipe theres shrimp and i’m allergic to it. Can i substitute it with something else?

    • Meisenman Eugene, Oregon My profile page joined 9/16
      Posted September 6th, 2016 at 3:06 pm | # |

      You can just leave it out, and the kimchi will still be very good. I made Maangchi’s other kimchi recipe (the Emergency Kimchi, I think), which didn’t call for shrimp, and my Korean friends—and my friend’s mother, who was visiting from Korea—thought that it was very good. His mother gave me some of her kimchi, and it differed from mine in that it had a richness that I had to ask about. Her recipe included the salted shrimp. Mine was very good; hers was even better.

      • Meisenman Eugene, Oregon My profile page joined 9/16
        Posted September 7th, 2016 at 2:46 pm | # |

        It was the Easy Kimchi recipe (I don’t know where “Emergency” came from ;^] ).

  12. PookD Melbourne, Australia My profile page joined 8/16
    Posted August 23rd, 2016 at 11:16 am | # |

    Hi Maangchi,
    First of all, I would like to thank you for all of your videos.
    I’ve been making a lot of Korean food for my family and friends and everyone enjoyed them so much.
    I made Kimchi 2 times already. I made a big batch and keep them in the fridge. I keep them for 2 months (eating weekly). They tasted good but not as sour as when I eat in the restaurant. I love sour kimchi. Could you please suggest how can I make the kimchi more sour? Should I add more porridge?
    Thank you so much Maangchi,
    Love you

    • EGawing Malaysia My profile page joined 8/16
      Posted August 27th, 2016 at 1:38 am | # |

      Hi PookD

      I usually leave my kimchi overnight to ferment. In where I live, the weather is always humid, one night is all it needs to make them sour. Perhaps you can leave yours out longer and keep tasting them until u are satisfy with the sourness?

      Thanks Maangchi for sharing this great recipe. Ive been making this every 3 weeks for the past few months. My family and friends love them. By the way, in order to save time, I blend the garlic, ginger, onion, shrimp paste & fish sauce in blender before mixing with the rest of the seasoning ingredients for making paste.

      See full size image

  13. iiSoNiA66 Riverside,California My profile page joined 8/16
    Posted August 18th, 2016 at 10:54 pm | # |

    Wowwy wow!! I’m so happy and glad for the recipe. I’m fairly new to you and your videos but I love how fun you make it!! This was my first time making kimchi and I feel so proud! Thanks Maangchi

    • Maangchi New York City My profile page joined 8/08
      Posted August 21st, 2016 at 11:25 am | # |

      You made nice kimchi which means you can cook so many delicious dishes with it! Good luck with your Korean cooking!

  14. lillypilly Australia My profile page joined 8/16
    Posted August 8th, 2016 at 4:12 am | # |

    Where I live it can be hard to find radish, and when I do they are usually old and flabby. Would turnip make a good substitute, or is there another substitute that would be better, or should I just leave out the radish?

  15. pjen Hanoi, Vietnam My profile page joined 8/16
    Posted August 2nd, 2016 at 10:40 pm | # |


    I really enjoyed your video of the traditional kimchi recipe, the instructions are very easy to follow and, you are such a lovely lady!!

    In Vietnam we have this pickled shrimp, can I use it as the substitute for the Korean fermented salted shrimp?

    See full size image

  16. mmacadang Califronia My profile page joined 7/16
    Posted July 25th, 2016 at 12:28 am | # |

    Hello Maangchi!

    I want to know if the fermented shrimp can be substituted for something else? Please help! Thanks!

    • Maangchi New York City My profile page joined 8/08
      Posted July 25th, 2016 at 11:58 am | # |

      You can replace fermented salted shrimp with fish sauce or skip it. The kimchi will still turn out delicious.

  17. bartninja Brazil My profile page joined 7/16
    Posted July 21st, 2016 at 11:00 pm | # |

    Hi Maangchi!!!!! I’m from Brazil!!!!! I love your recipes!!!!
    I would like to know if I can replace saeujeot in tongbaechu kimchi, because the price of saeujeot in Brazil is absurdly expensive!!!!!!!
    I wonder if maybe one day you could teach us the handmade saeujeot recipe……
    Another question: I didn’t find gochugaru, so I used Gochujangyong gochugaru instead. Did I something stupid?
    Thanks a lot in advance for the tips!

    • Maangchi New York City My profile page joined 8/08
      Posted July 25th, 2016 at 12:02 pm | # |

      Yes, skip saeujeot and use a little more fish sauce or salt. You can use hot pepper powder instead of hot pepper flakes when you make kimchi. Only difference between flakes and powder is how finely they ground.

  18. LawSY Malaysia My profile page joined 7/16
    Posted July 19th, 2016 at 2:56 am | # |

    This is the second time I made kimchi from your recipe. My family like it very much. Love the kimchi-bokkeumbap too. I make kimchi-bokkeumbap a lot so I must have kimchi ever ready in my fridge. Will try out other recipes of yours. Thank you very much for sharing these wonderful recipes :)

    See full size image

  19. ferment4health Maple Valley, WA My profile page joined 7/16
    Posted July 16th, 2016 at 9:44 pm | # |

    I meant “above” the liquid, not “about”.

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