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 side 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 recipe), which is very similar but is easier because you to chop up the cabbage into bite size pieces 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. (I also have a vegan kimchi version of this recipe, too!)

For me, this kimchi recipe has the traditional flavor I am looking for. It 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.

To make this kimchi we need to first soak the cabbage in a salty brine to soften the leaves (some people swear by sea salt but I always use Kosher salt in all my Korean dishes). Then lactobacillus bacteria can do their work and convert sugar into lactic acid, which preserves the cabbage and changes the flavor over time. But you don’t have to wait for the kimchi to ferment before you enjoy it, you can eat it right away and keep eating it as it ferments and eventually goes sour. Then it’s perfect for dishes like kimchi-jjigae and kimchi stir fried rice.

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 kimchi-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:


Seasonings and spices:


Prepare and salt the cabbage

  1. If the cabbage cores stick out too much, trim them off with your knife over your cutting board.
  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 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, give them a final rinse, 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. In a large bowl, 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. If you’re using a sealed jar with a lid, be sure to open it once a while, let it breathe, and press down on the top of the kimchi.
  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. thomasanp Washington joined 10/14 & has 1 comment

    Is there a way to use fresh red peppers instead of pepper flakes?

  2. xtralargepho USA joined 10/14 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi,

    Can I use fine Korean sea salt for the tongbaechu kimchi? Do I use the same amount? Thank you!

  3. Tonyas969 TN joined 10/14 & has 3 comments

    Let me first say I think this is the first time I have ever written to a blog before…. And I have NEVER made anything Korean or anything like this EVER. Your recipe looks awesome and my fiance’ is so excited as he loves Korean food. I have a couple of questions, as I was supposed to make this today, but am still too nervous. I have watched your FAQ and these are not listed- I am sure I am not the only one with these questions! I sure hope you can respond soon…
    1. I am using one LARGE cabbage that weighs almost 6 pounds. I will be cutting my cabbage into pieces. Some recipes call for soaking your salted (cut up) cabbage in water overnight- then rinsing thoroughly the next morning- what do you think about this- is it necessary? How long do you soak before salting?
    2. I only have Red Pepper Powder, will this work as a replacement for the flakes? How much should I use?
    3. If I make the paste the night before, will it be ok sitting/marinating in the fridge overnight?
    4. How do you store it? Do you use small glass jars or one big gallon jar? I have read that if you put the lids on tight for the glass jars they can explode- what do you recommend?

  4. Crystal Tan Singapore joined 10/14 & has 1 comment

    Hello Maangchi, may i know why does the sauce seems to separate after i storing it for an hour? The sauce seems to be divided into two, with a layer of liquid at the top.

  5. Marimo Seoul joined 10/14 & has 1 comment

    Hello Maangchi!

    Thank you for sharing all your great recipes! I’m currently living in Seoul and they have helped me a lot with cooking with the local ingredients.

    I’ve tried this kimchi recipe and it turned out pretty good but not perfect (according to my taste anyway…) I find the the balance between the spiciness and the sourness to be a little off; in other words, I find that the spiciness overpowers the sourness. It’s not too spicy mind you, just not sour enough I guess. Any idea why that is? Maybe I used too much kimchi paste? It seems like there will be a lot left over once I’m done eating the cabbage…

    In that regard, I’d also like to know if it’s possible to re-used the left over kimchi paste (not the left over fresh one, i mean the already used one that’s left in the container when all the kimchi has been eaten)

    Thank you~

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,045 comments

      Hell Marimo,

      It will get more sour as time goes on. Koreans have many different recipes for kimchi, you can keep experimenting and modifying until you get it how you like it.

      I never use the kimchi paste leftover in the container, but you can try something and let us know about it.

      good luck with your kimchi making!

  6. Irisiu Hanoi,vietnam joined 10/14 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi, thank u so much for your recipe. I followed your recipe many times without measuring. I mean i didnt measure how many salt, pepper,… sometimes it’s too salty, or sweety, especially too much juice. I have no idea whether my questions be ever raised, hope yo get your answer. 1.How many ml/g equal yo your cup? I dont have a cup or tablespoon like u, so i dont know how is enough. 2. With a small amount of salt like that, i think cabbage is still so fresh, a lot of water contained. Is it good to make kimchi? 3. I saw that u make a little sweet rice pouridge, is it enough to cover cabbage? Again, how many ml/mg of sweet rice powder and sugar? 4. If i make too sweety rice pouridge by chance, how can i fix it? Look forward to hearing from u soon. Thanks in advance, Maangchi! *BOWING*

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,045 comments

      Hi, Irisiu
      My 1 cup is 240 ML. I had never measured my food before I started posting my recipes online. But ever since I started sharing my recipes, I found that using measurements is necessary.

      In order to make good kimchi, I think you need to start by getting measuring cups and learning how to measure the ingredients. It takes time and patience but you get better and faster over time.

  7. kimchilover25 USA joined 10/14 & has 1 comment

    hi maangchi unnie can u tell me why u use kosher salt instead of coarse sea salt? every video i watch in korean they all use the coarse sea salt to make kimchi. also if i want to use the coarse sea salt from korea how much should i use for ur recipe and do i have to do anything different? sorry for lots of questions last question can i use both salted shrimp and fish sauce i like this taste how much should i use for ur recipe? thank u maangchi unnie ur recipe have help me cook so much yummy korean food i don’t know what i would do without ur help i have very bad stomach and korean food is the only kind of food i can eat without being sick so thank u so much u help make me not sick anymore.

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,045 comments

      I used to use coarse sea salt when I made kimchi in Korea. But these days I use fine kosher salt to make all of my recipes because I found kosher salt is easier to find than coarse sea salt.
      You can use sea salt if you want but I don’t know how much to use in this recipe.
      Good luck with your Korean cooking!

  8. tatis south korea joined 9/14 & has 1 comment

    Dear Maangchi,
    i like your recipes very much.
    I already cooked many dishes from your site for my husband. He is hangug saram and he likes them a lot.
    but kimchi …..
    can u pls tell how many ml is the cup u use?

  9. jvance Texas joined 9/14 & has 2 comments

    Thank you so much for this recipe. My husband is Korean-American and he loves traditional Korean foods like his mother makes. I am white and have only in the last few years been exposed to Korean foods. My husband loves your Kimchi :) and your other recipes at least give me a good start to making food for my picky husband. Thanks so much.

  10. sae.sae Kansas joined 9/14 & has 1 comment

    This is my first time making kimchi. I usually buy mine. This is the best kimchi I’ve ever had. Your recipe is amazing! Thank you so much for the video. It was a huge help! :)

  11. funcooking Ontario joined 8/11 & has 5 comments

    Hello Maangchi 언니..My name is 유리..First, I would like to thank you for sharing
    your delicious 김치 recipe..I have been making my own Kimchi since 2009 by following
    your recipe..I love doing it and everyone likes the the taste in my family..
    It does take sometime to make kimchi, but it’s all worth it since I will have my delicious
    homemade kimchi for the following several months, and I can use it to make everything
    like kimchi stew(김치찌개), kimchi pancake(김치파전), Kimchi Fried rice(김치볶음밥), Kimchi tofu and kimchi gimbap (김치두부 and 김치김밥)^^ I made Kimchi today because
    my husband is coming back from Korea today, so he won’t feel homesick when he eats kimchi^^ Thank you for your updated version and this recipe is even better than the previous one and takes less time..I love it^^*

    Take care and I hope you develop more and more authentic Korean recipes^^

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,045 comments

      wow, it sounds like you are a kimchi master!
      “My husband is coming back from Korea today, so he won’t feel homesick when he eats kimchi” You are such a warm hearted lovely wife! I would like to taste your kimchi someday. : )

  12. little.dwaeji United States joined 6/14 & has 1 comment

    Maangchi, thank you so, so much for this fantastic recipe! I never write reviews, but this recipe was so good, I had to tell you :). I’ve always been too intimidated to make kimchi because my mom’s kimchi is so good, and it seems like there are so many factors that affect how well kimchi ferments and tastes. But your recipe looked so good and was well-explained that I decided to give it a try. WOW! Seriously the best kimchi I’ve ever had. Even my mom admitted it was better than hers, and my dad couldn’t stop eating it. He never says anything he doesn’t mean, and he and my mom both said it was better than the kimchi they used to eat growing up in Korea :).

    I’ve made this twice so far: first time exactly as your recipe is written, and the second time with a couple minor changes my mom suggested for personal taste:
    (1) I personally like really crunchy kimchi, so I salted my cabbage for almost 5 hours to remove as much water as possible. When I salted it for just 2 hours the first time I made it, it ended up a little mushy. Salting it longer made it SO crunchy even weeks later :).
    (2) After salting, I rinsed each leaf thoroughly probably 6 times because after rinsing just a few times, the leaves still tasted really salty to me.
    (3) My kitchen is really warm during the summer, so it only took 12 hours for my kimchi to ferment! The first time I let it go for 24 hours before putting it in the refrigerator, but then it got too sour within a few days. You weren’t kidding when you said a warmer environment will speed up fermentation!

    Other than that, I didn’t change a thing :). The seasoning is absolutely perfect! Best kimchi ever! Thank you again so much!

  13. vikingbymarriage Finland joined 8/14 & has 1 comment

    It might be hard for us to find sweet rice flour here in Finland. Could you make porridge from almond or coconut flour? Trying to figure out some other alternatives. Thanks.

  14. shinjuku2014 japan joined 8/14 & has 1 comment

    hello ms.maangchi…i love your vids…i am living in shinjuku tokyo near in korean town in shin ookubo place,about 10 minutes by bicycle or less than 2 minutes by riding a train…in yamanote line…i tried eat kimchi so many times…every restaurant has different kind of flavor, i really enjoyed it but i dont like too much sour…one of my favaorite kimchi is kimchi with fresh crabs (watari gani:japanese crab) and sometimes have a kaki shells or oister shells, but this is too much expensive….can you make a video how to make of this….if possible…can i add more shrimp paste and a little bit more sugar…hope your kindly response and let me thank you in advance…more power……from akira japan (shinjuku_altaboy@yahoo.co.jp)

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,045 comments

      I can almost picture how you reach to Korea town by bicycle or by train because your description is so real! Yamanote line must be subway, yeah? “can i add more shrimp paste and a little bit more sugar?” yes, of course you and modify the recipe to your taste.

  15. OliverSA South Africa joined 8/14 & has 2 comments

    Hi Maangchi,

    I’ve made your Kimchi a few times, and this last time was the second time that it went mouldy :(
    What did I do wrong to make it go mouldy? It only really happened at the bottom, thick part go the cabbage (the stem).

    The Kimchi was left out for about 2 days after making it, and since then it’s been in the fridge the whole time.

    How can I stop it from growing mould?

    • Susan.353 Manila joined 8/14 & has 11 comments

      Hi, i am not maangchi, but i would like to share some of my experience with u .. H
      1. The cabbage didn’t salt well.
      2. All container or jar for kimchi’s, make sure it’ls clean enough (not allow to hav oil in it, if its contain even a tiny oil it’ll will cause ur kimchi moldy)
      put more salt on bottom part bcos it is hard.
      when u choose big napa cabbage u hav to split into 4, so that it will easy to sprinkle evenly n it’ll will well pickled.
      For me i like a small napa cabbage so i am just need to split into 2, easy when sprinkle and salting.it’ll will save some time when salting too.
      Making kimchi, The most important is the cabbage must well pickled (salting) if u salt well ur kimchi guarantee good.
      This is my experince of making kimchi, hope it’ll help u. Good luck ! 🍀

  16. loypo Singapore joined 8/14 & has 3 comments

    I’m in the process of making this one. I can only find “chinchalok” to replace the salted korean shrimp. Hope the outcome is is good. :)

  17. yellow-whale123 Unicorn Island joined 8/14 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi!
    I can’t find any Hot Pepper Flakes anywhere, what do you think i can use to substitute it. I’ve been using Cayenne Pepper but its not the same. Any ideas? Thanks!

  18. Gagas Satrya Surabaya , Indonesia joined 7/14 & has 1 comment

    i want to ask you can i make the saeujeot by myself ??? and how is the way to make it ? thank you a lot

  19. anxyu7 Israel joined 7/14 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi! ^^ I want to try out this one, using regular cabbage instead of napa since there is no napa cabbage over here, but we’re also a very small 2 people family, and since it’s first time I don’t want to make too much, is there any chance to know what would be the measurements of the ingredients if I use one regular cabbage instead? thank you! :)

  20. DoubleGoodbye Australia joined 7/14 & has 1 comment

    Just made a batch of this and it is already tasting amazing! I might need to be enrolled in a Kimchi addicts group soon! :)

    I am just wondering if there are replacements for fish sauce and the shrimp if you wanted to make a strict vegan version.

    Thanks so much for the recipe.

  21. sarah.bp jakarta joined 7/14 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi,
    I do love all your recipe in here and i have tried to make nappa cabbage kimchi. And i love fresh kimchi too. But my question is after several days store in my refigerator, my kimchi stated to taste bitter. Is it always taste like that when you store it for long time?

  22. tamy23 Brasil joined 3/14 & has 4 comments

    Maangchi I can’t find salted shrimp where I live T-T What do you suggest as a replacement?

  23. CiscoTX Houston, TX joined 7/14 & has 4 comments

    Maaaaangchiiii!!! Yesterday was my first kimchi making day. :) my little kimchis are resting now and getting their beauty sleep! My husband has high blood pressure, so we’re excited to eat kimchi that has less salt and preservatives than the store-bought.

    We love your vids!

    Howdy, from Texas :)

  24. monamoon California joined 7/14 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi :) I made this delicious kimchi last weekend and it came out sooo good! I used dried fish strips (wild salmon). I put the fish strips between the cabbage leaves. They became tender and soft. So delicious! I can’t stop craving this kimchi…Thank you for this wonderful and healthy recipe!! Lots of love from California! ~Mona

  25. Uaintgotnothinonthis Tacoma, wa joined 7/14 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi!

    I made this today and used paste instead of flakes… You think it will still turn out good?

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,045 comments

      How do you like your kimchi? I have never used hot pepper paste in my kimchi but some of my readers let me know their kimchi made with hot pepper paste turned out good. I think hot pepper flakes are still better than hot pepper paste.

  26. xxximandax Singapore joined 7/14 & has 1 comment

    Hi maangchi! I’ve have store bought kimchi with has alr been cooled. I wanted more kimchi juice to make kimchi soup. So can I leave it in room temperature again to let it ferment? Thank you! Your ans would really help me

  27. ecofan14 Dallas, Texas joined 7/14 & has 1 comment

    Hello Maangchi! I’ve been following your website for sometime and love your recipes and great energy! Your pajeon was delicious, and I also use your toasted seaweed recipe quite often now. I had kimchi once with a friend and it was delicious but (being a teenager) I never had it again since my friend moved away and my immediate family dislikes most Asian cuisine. I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to make this dish myself with this delicious sounding recipe, and I plan to make it this week with my aunt while she’s in town. I’m so excited, and I again wish to thank you for your amazing recipes! I plan to be eating plenty of kimchi this summer! :)

  28. Gail Dolly McAlpin, FL joined 6/14 & has 1 comment

    I am 71 and have never tasted kimchi but while reading about it I was overwhelmed by the most amazing craving. I have researched the recipes online and watched the videos and have assembled 5 recipes, but this is the one I will be using. In order to get most of the ingredients I will have to make a 100-mile round trip to Gainesville, FL, because I live in the middle of a very rural, agricultural county (but it doesn’t sell Napa cabbages!) in North Central Florida. I have several friends who LOVE kimchi and I have promised to make enough to share with them. I think kimchi is the true sharing dish one could make and I can’t wait to taste it. Then I am going to make some pork rolls. Thank you so very much for not only your recipes but the wonderful videos. I feel as if I am right there with you enjoying the little “tastes” (I caught you!) and it makes my mouth water. So, many thanks once again.

  29. yoongiseok Malaysia joined 7/14 & has 1 comment

    Can you give a recipe for a smaller portion of kimchi ? Cos I live alone and it would take me ages to finish that 6 pound of kimchi n I don’t have much space to keep that much kimchi either. Maybe for 2 head of napa cabbage how much of ingredient I would need to make the paste (seasoning, spices, porridge). Thank you.

  30. Sushi Switzerland joined 6/14 & has 1 comment

    I made it, tried it and loved it so much! Thank you very much. However, I’m now smelling like kimchi because when I opened the jar, it “exploded” like opening a champagne bottle. This was due to the fermenting process.

  31. Jasper Philippines joined 5/11 & has 26 comments

    Hello Maangchi. Does anyone ever use mussels for their kimchi?

  32. Anna_Park San Jose, California joined 6/14 & has 2 comments

    Maangchi, i was wondering about my napa cabbage. So i salted each layer like you said, and i rinsed it about 5-6 times. But when i tasted a piece of the cabbage, it tasted salty. I was wondering if that was normal? Or is there a problem with the amount of salt, and i should rinse it more?

  33. Jason-NC NC joined 6/14 & has 2 comments

    I’ve made a bunch of your recipes in the past but my favorite (and my family’s) is by far kimchi. When I was in the Air Force, my supervisor’s Korean wife use to bring kimchi in for us every day for lunch. Now I get to make it myself. I make a fresh batch each month and we eat it with everything…from breakfast to dinner and as a snack during the day. Thank you so much for sharing your cooking skills with us.

  34. D California joined 6/09 & has 43 comments

    Hi Maangchi, what is the refrigerated shelf life of kimchi? Thanks!

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,045 comments

      You can store kimchi in the refrigerator for months and months because kimchi never goes bad but ferment. As time passes, the kimchi will get more sour in the refrigerator because fermentation continues. I make kimchi usually every other month. Fresh kimchi will start fermenting in 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

  35. kimminji London joined 6/14 & has 1 comment

    Instead of using napa cabbage, could I use the ordinary cabbage instead?

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