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:


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. Oranges Indonesia joined 10/17
    Posted October 16th, 2017 at 4:49 am | # |

    Thank you for the recipe, maangchi. It’s my first time made a kimchi. The freshly made kimchi is really delicious. Hope it’ll ferment well :)

    See full size image

  2. Old Salt Maryland, USA joined 7/17
    Posted October 9th, 2017 at 7:27 pm | # |

    We love this kimchi! So easy to make and so very good.
    I have a question about something I think you never have a problem with. When we made our third batch, the pepper flakes had lost some of their color and perhaps some of their zing as well. This was about three months after we made our first batch and first opened the pepper flakes. Is there a way we should have stored our pepper flakes to keep them “like new” longer? We just re-closed the seal on the bag and put it in the pantry.

  3. Kingfisher Melbourne, Australia joined 10/17
    Posted October 4th, 2017 at 3:43 am | # |

    Dear Maangchi,

    I’ve only recently discovered your site and have just taken delivery of your fantastic book! Thank-you!

    Today I spent the afternoon making my first batch of Kimchi. I bought a large Onggi (thanks to the address supplied by your site to a Korean grocer in Melbourne that stocked them. Thanks!)

    In your book you say that the kimchi should be transferred from the onggi to the fridge after 2-3 days.
    Is there any benefit to just leaving it in the Onggi in my kitchen? As long as the kimchi is always submerged, should it be OK to leave out?
    And one final question: do you need to put anything between the onggi lid and the pot (like cheesecloth/muslin)?

    Thanks for your time, Maangchi.
    All the very best to you from Melbourne, Australia.

  4. Misslittle1 Richmond Canada joined 9/17
    Posted September 23rd, 2017 at 7:56 pm | # |

    Kimchi turned out amazing!!! Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful recipe!

    See full size image

    • Jemappellesom Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand joined 7/17
      Posted September 25th, 2017 at 5:36 am | # |

      Hi maangchi. Greeting from Thailand.
      I love your kimchi recipe to much and my customer too!!
      They said, they love n very delicious.
      On the pic, I added everything on your recipe.
      I found n try to make the original.
      That’s why everyone love it.

      Thanks a lot.

      Ahh!!. Fresh himchi so gooooodd!!

      See full size image

  5. Akvile Norway joined 9/17
    Posted September 22nd, 2017 at 3:56 pm | # |

    hi, Maangchi
    I was wondering…. you use korean radish as one of the ingrediants to make this kimchi, could I use daikon radish instead? I searched through all the shops around even went to the capital where they have Asian shops were they sell korean ingrediens as well, but I couldnt find it. so I started to wonder if daikon would do the trick?

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted September 23rd, 2017 at 12:35 pm | # |

      Yes, you can use daikon if Korean radish is not available when you make kimchi. Good luck!

  6. sonalidhas India joined 9/17
    Posted September 22nd, 2017 at 8:31 am | # |

    Made this today. Now there shall be a feast. :D

    See full size image

  7. Celinejph FRANCE joined 1/16
    Posted September 20th, 2017 at 11:25 pm | # |

    Second time , i’m making it, i made more this time because i use kimchi a lot now ;)

    See full size image

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted September 22nd, 2017 at 9:23 am | # |

      Yes, your kimchi will run out so quickly when you make kimchi stew, kimchi fried rice, and kimchi pancakes. The cute jars filled with your homemade kimchi are precious!

  8. Pineapple_JoJo UK joined 9/17
    Posted September 16th, 2017 at 8:07 am | # |

    Oh Maangchi! I’m so excited, I made my kimchi two weeks ago ate some today and it was delicious! I made fried noodles with it. Thank you for your wonderful recipes xx

    See full size image

  9. fearne Thailand joined 9/17
    Posted September 15th, 2017 at 1:58 pm | # |

    Hi Maangchi,
    Thank you for sharing the recipes. I could guarantee that yours recipes are gorgeous. My mom and brother even said this kimchi was far better that those in some restaurants.

    By the way, i like the way you present the videos. I can feel that you are truly a lovely person. It’s fun watching your videos :D

    See full size image

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted September 19th, 2017 at 8:54 am | # |

      Thank you so much! The kimchi you made looks so delicious. Are there good Korean grocery stores in your area?

  10. Amaar Saudi Arabia joined 9/17
    Posted September 4th, 2017 at 6:56 am | # |

    Thank you, Maangchi for this amazing recipe, i made it couple days ago and it came out delicious, check it out :)

    See full size image

    • Sio lover Ksa joined 12/16
      Posted September 10th, 2017 at 3:01 pm | # |

      Excuse me I am also from Saudi Arabia Riyadh from where did you get the pepper flakes?

      • Amaar Saudi Arabia joined 9/17
        Posted September 18th, 2017 at 3:22 am | # |

        Hello! Actuallty i got flakes with me when i was traveling, have u tried Korean Food Store Store near Olaya? They have lots of stuff.

        • Sio lover Ksa joined 12/16
          Posted September 30th, 2017 at 7:13 am | # |

          Yes I did try but I think its so expensive there its 50 sr for a package of pepper flakes !!! But its worth it and by the way your kimchi looks yummy thanks for the help☺

  11. stage89 singapore joined 2/15
    Posted August 29th, 2017 at 3:22 pm | # |

    Hi maangchi
    If my place cannot find similar salted fermented shrimp what can I do? But only can fouND this in the pictures

    See full size image

    • sanne Munich joined 8/14
      Posted August 30th, 2017 at 2:58 pm | # |

      That’s it! Bingo! Jackpot! ;-)

      If you can’t find any of those: fish sauce works fine, but use less (about half of the amount you would for fermented shrimp) or even soy sauce.

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