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.

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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)

Ingredients

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

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For making porridge:

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

Vegetables:

  • 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:

Directions

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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656 Comments:

  1. doughydoe New Zealand joined 4/18 & has 2 comments

    Hi Maangchi just made some kimchi a few days ago. Nice and sour now! I like to add a pear for flavour hehe. Probably shouldn’t have filled one of the jars so full though, it was on the verge of exploding. I had no idea fermentation would produce so much gas lol!
    Thank you so much for your recipe!


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  2. Ana Figueiredo Brazil joined 4/18 & has 1 comment

    Hi, Maangchi!!!

    I’m about to make this traditional kimchi, but I’m allergic to crustaceans. Can I replace the fermented salted shrimp for anything else?

    Thank you! <3

  3. philtsen Russia joined 4/18 & has 1 comment

    Hi, Maangchi!
    Greetings from Russia!

    I wondered, what volume of kimchi is your recipe designed for?
    The thing is I bought a 7 liter onggi and now I want to know, how much more ingredients I should take for it:)

    BTW, I just love your website and your youtube channel. Atr you planning to publish another book with even more recipes? (Already have your first one)

  4. carbonara Europe joined 3/18 & has 1 comment

    Hi,
    thanks for the recipe!
    i couldn’t find any korean chilli flakes so decided to use paprika and cayenne pepper instead (i used 1/4 cup cayenne pepper and 1/2 half paprika) however this made the kimchi quite spicy and the paprika + cayenne pepper gives a VERY strong flavour which is hard to ignore when eating the kimchi. It’s been 2 weeks now so the sourness from fermentation has sort of made the flavour more tolerable but it is still very overbearing and sometimes not very nice. I was wondering if there was anything I could do balance out the strong paprika and cayenne pepper taste :) any recipes i can make using the kimchi would be helpful too!
    thank you

  5. brrrattt Paris, France joined 3/18 & has 1 comment

    hello, Maangchi! This is my second time making Korean tradition kimchi, I’ve borne the recipe in mind since the first time I watched your video. I’m from China and studying in Paris currently, I’m a big fan of Korean food, and I’ve also found that there are so many things in common between Chinese food and Korean food, your recipe really cures my homesick. Normally, I eat kimchi as an appetizer, and I prefer to put some sesame oil on it when eat it, super tasty and I love it!


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  6. syahirasharif Malaysia joined 3/18 & has 1 comment

    I always buy storebought kimchi but I always ended up using them so fast (and my dad keep stealing bites to eat too lol) and its too expensive (especially imported kimchi from korea which tend to be very flavorful). I’m so glad that its far cheaper and tastier to make them myself. I bought a package of gochugaru that was mild for my taste and used extra cup in the recipe so its red but still not scary spicy.

    I left my batch out overnight next to a thermo pot, the humidity and warmer temperature allow it to ferment fairly quickly under 24 hours. I’m so happy to taste slight carbonation to it. I kept a layer of plastic over the larger container with a weight to keep them submerge in the juice and reduce exposure to air. But I kinda doubt they would last a month. Thank you Maangchi :)


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    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 11,257 comments

      Your kimchi looks well fermented now, and crispy and juicy and delicious. Every line that you wrote really makes sense. I said “That’s right!” while I was reading.

      Continued good luck with your Korean cooking! Now you can make kimchi forever!

  7. Wendy905 Malaysia joined 3/18 & has 2 comments

    Second time I made this, my friend and family like it


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  8. Jhoy_melendrez14 philippines joined 10/17 & has 9 comments

    I’ll make sure to make as many kimchi as possible because my husband and i love it so much !! thank you maangchi! your recipe help me a lot in making korean dishes in easy way!! tried almost all of your recipe..


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  9. Collinyu Taiwan joined 2/18 & has 5 comments

    This is my second time making kimchi with your recipe. My paste is a little watery compare to yours. Anything else turned out okay.
    Thanks


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  10. Buncy Vancouver joined 2/18 & has 1 comment

    Hello Maangchi :) Can I use the same recipe to make gat kimchi? Thank you.

  11. alessiastre Italy joined 2/18 & has 2 comments

    Ciao, ti ho scoperta da pochi giorni.
    Sono contentissima di aver conosciuto il tuo sito e canale del youtube, io sono sorda e sono molto felice perchè le tue ricette sono tutti sottotitolati e ho avuto possibilità di imparare.
    Ecco ho appena fatto il primo Kimichi in questa ricetta ..
    Domani forse faccio qualcosa con Rice cake.


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  12. Sancy101 Maldives joined 2/18 & has 2 comments

    Hi Maangchi, I want to try making kimchi but I don’t have fermented shrimps, don’t think they are available in my country. And I miight get fish sauce or I might not. So my question is, what actually causes the fermentation in kimchi, and can it be made without the fish sauce and shrimps and still ferment? I want the probiotics in it so a milder taste wouldn’t be a problem.

  13. lalagirl717 Lancaster, Pa joined 1/18 & has 2 comments

    Thank you so much for having the recipes on YouTube and on a website.
    I made kimchi before but didn’t have the courage to try it. My husband didn’t even bother to be my test rat. After I made the kimchi with your recipe my husband fell in love with it. He’s been eating it for dinner almost every night for the past 2 weeks.
    During my pregnancy I had food aversion and could not eat. I lost my appetite with everything and lost weight. I found your website and it was the start of getting my appetite back. Your foods are always so colorful and flavorful. I just gave birth and having trouble cooking, but I still enjoy watching your videos while pumping milk. I can’t wait to go back to the kitchen and try out more recipes. I love watching you in action!

  14. BernardC Western Australia joined 12/17 & has 6 comments

    Traditional Kimchi – made for family.


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  15. janggeurae Indonesia joined 12/17 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi or anyone who knows the answer. Why the kimchi paste in Korean restaurant has a thick texture, same like when we just rubbed the paste to the cabbage? It’s pretty much like the second picture from the last. The fermentation process always makes the kimchi covered with juice so I am suspicious that they rub again the same paste right before it’s served to the customers?

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