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)

Ingredients

Makes about 8 pounds (3.6 kg) of Kimchi

For salting cabbage:

For making porridge:

Vegetables:

Seasonings and spices:

Directions

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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989 Comments:

  1. Louis.Leyser Ville Platte, Louisiana joined 8/20 & has 3 comments
  2. Louis.Leyser Ville Platte, Louisiana joined 8/20 & has 3 comments

    I had so much fun making this kimchi. Thank you so much for everything that you do! ❤️❤️❤️


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  3. LA90069 Los Angeles joined 6/19 & has 1 comment

    This recipe is perfect. The only issue I have is that I always tend to run out of the seasoned paste before I’ve finished with the cabbage. I guess I put too much between all the leaves.

  4. jaedortmundbvb Dortmund Germany joined 2/12 & has 2 comments

    I tried many different recipes for years but this is by far the yummiest and best Kimchi I’ve ever made! I made a batch and shared it with friends. They ALL said that it is the best Kimchi – better than their moms! So so so happy that I found this and will keep making Kimchi this way! Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe and sharing it with us! Greetings from Germany!

  5. PatPat Hong Kong joined 7/20 & has 1 comment

    This recipe is great! I will never buy supermarket kimchi anymore :)


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  6. sanne Munich joined 8/14 & has 308 comments

    Add jalapenos or – even better – habanero peppers.

  7. kiminomikata San Fransisco, CA joined 6/20 & has 1 comment

    Maangchi this has been my go to recipe for Kimchi for a while, I used to watch my grandmother make it with friends that would come over while I lived in Japan. Now I make this at home about every 2 – 3 months. I wish you could give us a Summer Version of Kimchi , lately the recent batch I made I added Korean Pear.

  8. SitiAisyahCucina Singapore joined 6/20 & has 1 comment

    Is delicious thank you it’s my first time to make it and it’s success


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  9. Jessicaf North carolina joined 6/20 & has 14 comments

    This is our go to kimchi recipe. We omit the shrimp usually but we make this twice a year and share with family and friends. Everyone says it’s the best kimchi they’ve ever had. We have made several of your kimchi’s, all delicious. This is the best though.

  10. Nusrat Andalib Dhaka, Bangladesh joined 6/20 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi

    This is my very first post/comment on your blog
    I tried your recipe for kimchi made Cabbage and Chive kimchi. As napa cabagge was not available i tried with normal cabbage. Its so yummy.

    Thank you


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  11. indyalex Indianapolis joined 6/20 & has 3 comments

    ….and here is a picture before putting it away. I hope I see bubbles tomorrow.


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  12. indyalex Indianapolis joined 6/20 & has 3 comments

    I made it this morning and saved a fresh bowl for lunch (after riding my bike). Tastes so good. I will keep it on the counter until tomorrow night. Then I will check on it.
    I didn’t use the fermented shrimp and only used one cup of Korean hot pepper flakes. IT’S SPICY.
    Thanks, Maangchi.


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  13. Lucy Ramirez Jalisco,México joined 6/20 & has 2 comments

    Hello maangchi!! I’m your fan from Mexico, I’ll try to make kimchi for first time, but I can’t get daikon where i live, there is something that I can use instead of it?

  14. Gu ching Singapore joined 6/20 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi Im from Singapore where can I buy original onggi any link or website yiu can refer? Thanks a lot

  15. Blessed Singapore joined 4/10 & has 18 comments

    Hi Maangchi, may I know if I can store kimchi in such metal containers by Lock&Lock?


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  16. Bhmacinnis Canada joined 5/20 & has 2 comments

    Hi Maangchi!

    I can only find Korean hot pepper powder Where I live, not flakes. Can I still use equal amounts in my kimchi or do I need to use more or less?
    Thanks!

    • HilaryJ Deep in the heart of Texas joined 6/20 & has 1 comment

      I can answer this!! I have a Korean store near me, but no flakes, just powder was available. I think there are supply chain issues because of the current pandemic.

      The powder isn’t as fine as what we know as chile powder, so I bought it. I didn’t use the full 2 cups, 1.5 cups instead. The heat is intense! I realized, after the fact, because the powder finer, there is more surface area of the bits because there is more of them, and therefore more heat.

      My next time I’m only going to add 1/2 cup of red pepper powder, and see where the heat level is at. If we need more heat, I can always up the red pepper level.

  17. Fnarazak Malaysia joined 5/20 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi..
    Tq for recipe.. first time making this halal kimchi.. but a bit spicy.. hahaha


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  18. janinn Philippines joined 5/20 & has 2 comments

    Hi Maangchi i really need your help

    i tried a new gochugaru brand for my kimchi, when i was making the paste, after putting the gochugaru, i tasted it and it is not spicy, is it really like that? will it become spicier in the fermentation process? for 7 kilos of kimchi, i put 5 cups of gochugaru :(

  19. echacha Toronto, Canada joined 4/20 & has 6 comments

    Thank you for Maamgchi the traditional kimchi recipe. I have made 3lb of Napa cabbage and I can eat fresh and aged kimchi at home.i really like the taste of freshly make kimchi and also I did fermented kimchi to 36 hours until this morning 6 am. But I am a bit fed up once I saw my jar were slowly spilled out some kimchi juices from the jar. During that period, the fermentation were so active inside the jar and I opened the jar and ‘pop’ sound. Some juice came out and make a bit a mess on the table this morning. I hurry to put in the fridge this morning at 7pm. When I drove to work I am still worry about my kimchi is going to expose. This is so interesting experience to me and when I get home I hope my fridge is still ok. Kidding


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    • ajeanne indonesia joined 4/23 & has 1 comment

      hello maangchi . same like me ! last week i tried to make kimchi, also I keep my kimchi at the storage in the fridge. this morning i want to send some kimchi to my friends. after i move this kimchi into a new little jar, the fermentation were so active inside the jar and I opened the jar and ‘pop’ sound. is this okay ? because there is a more liquid and some juice came out and make a bit a mess on the expedition. please help me :(((. how can i send this kimchi to my family and friends

  20. AyaChi236 Brampton, Ontario Canada joined 5/20 & has 3 comments

    Hi Ms. Maangchi!

    Once again, thank you for another yummy recipe! I made one Jar of it and its all gone in a week! That’s how yummy it is Now, every time the whole family eat we always have kimchi in every meal we eat.


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  21. Tfair46 Atlanta, Ga USA joined 5/20 & has 3 comments

    Hello Maangchi, thank you soooo much for making your wondeful recipes available. I watch many Korean Dramas and always wanted to try to make the food I see. Now I can thanks to you. I made kimchi for the first time with your recipe and it came out amazing. My family LOVES it. I have one question. I still have some left over Korean Radish. How do I safely store it in the fridge so that I can use it for another recipe.

  22. janinn Philippines joined 5/20 & has 2 comments

    Hi Maangchi, i love your recipes! :) I made kimchi with your recipe and everyone in my family loved it! I also made Kimchi stew with it. I am planning to make again, but i don’t have radish :( Can i make it without the radish? what difference does it make?

    Thank you

  23. uyanga308 Ulaanbaatar joined 1/15 & has 3 comments

    Hi Maangchi,

    I have been following your recipes for a while now. Love all the neverfail recipes. Can you please tell me if I can substitute minari for something else? I love minari in my kimchi as it adds different taste and texture so i would love to add it but there is minari in my country

  24. mabellth Australia joined 6/13 & has 3 comments

    Hi Maangchi, I am a follower of yours for quite some time now. I need your help by telling me how to made my own chilli flakes(gochugaru) for kimchi use. Due to the lockdown of Covid-19, I can’t get it from the store.

  25. Alujin Washington joined 4/20 & has 2 comments

    Hi Maangchi!

    I’ve made your kimchi jjigae and japchae for my family and they were blown away at how delicious it was. Thank you for sharing your recipes!

    I want to try and make kimchi using your recipe. I do not have Korean fermented salted shrimp but I do have Filipino fermented salted shrimp. Would that be an okay substitute? Thank you!!

  26. Isolated Saint Louis joined 5/20 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangci,

    Love this recipe! You make this look so easy! The matchsticks, especially.

    This kimchi is very good fresh, but I like it even more on the sour end of the spectrum. My fermentation lasts several days for the sour jar; last time I did seven days. The fresh goes straight to the refrigerator.

    Not content to just go traditional, I tried galanga instead of ginger. It adds a floral dimension and some sweetness that balances the acidity that develops.

    The last time that I did this recipe, I used distilled water instead of tap water, since I’ve read that the chlorination of tap water will kill the beneficial bacteria on the cabbage. I honestly couldn’t tell the difference.

  27. Inches Chicago joined 6/16 & has 63 comments

    I was watching documentaries from Arirang on Youtube about Kimchi. They said before red peppers came to Korea in 1592 they used a Cockscomb blossoms to make it red and sichuan peppers (sancho) for spicy. I’d LOVE to try sichuan pepper kimchi from “old” Korea.

    https://youtu.be/MhGo3OIDhV0?t=491

    Have you ever made this?? I want to learn how ^_^

    • Inches Chicago joined 6/16 & has 63 comments

      Oh, I don’t know if the documentary is accurate or not: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352618114000043

      This paper says that gochu was documented 2000 years ago.

      Either way, Sichuan (choncho maybe?) pepper kimchi sounds exciting!

      • I would not trust this paper. The authors make a number of claims that are not logically sound. For example, they claim, without any genetic proof, that it would take billions of years to cultivate a less spicy pepper from the Mexican and Central American peppers, so therefore there’s no way that Korean peppers come from those. Aji Amarillo is a Peruvian pepper, not Mexican. Not to mention that Mexico has many different pepper varieties, many of which are less spicy than any used to make gochugaru or gochujang. Also there are many first-hand accounts from Korean documents that revord the trading of hot peppers from Portuguese traders.

    • Hiiii, i tried your recipe and I dont how but I failed it.. either way I’m so bad at cooking or I missed something….. by the way if I use the nuoc nam for the fish sauce is this okay? If i cant use it can you please tell me where I can find it online ? (I’m from france) thanks in advance

  28. SeaSalt UK joined 4/20 & has 1 comment

    I made my own kimchi following this recipe thank you!
    I maybe made it a little bit too spicy but it’s okay to have just a little.

    I couldn’t find Korean radish so I just replaced it with more carrots.


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  29. zxyaea Manila,Philippines joined 4/20 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi,
    i always watch your cooking videos, but sad to say I never tried any of your recipes. But now, I want to start trying it, first with kimchi since I love kimchi… I just want to ask if I can use ordinary rock salt instead of Kosher salt for the kimchi? Thank you…

  30. BerfinK London joined 4/20 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi, I’ve been following your YouTube channel and now with this lockdown I wanted to try making kimchi at home. I just realised in your recipe you said to use 2 tablespoons of rice flour but I misread that too 1 cup would that be a problem? And I opened the container today and it made a pop sound and it didn’t taste bad but I think the sauce I made was too thick, so I don’t know what to do with it.

  31. alimama ny joined 9/11 & has 2 comments

    hi what’s the difference between this making whole cabbagr or cut up kimchi besides it being easier to eat?

  32. carenyrastorza Philipppines joined 4/20 & has 2 comments

    Hi! I ran out of cabbage to ferment but I already made the porridge mixture(including carrots, daikon, spices, etc). May I just keep it in the ref first until the time I get to buy cabbage? How long may I keep the kimchi porridge mixture in the ref?

  33. delaflota Germany joined 3/20 & has 1 comment

    Hi,
    I’d like to try out your recipe an therefor I need to know how much in ml is a cup you mention in your recipe.
    Thanks

  34. Tenacious B Suffolk, United Kingdom joined 3/20 & has 1 comment

    Having looked for a recipe for Kimchi online, I found your video on YouTube. I made a batch, though I didn’t have all the ingredients, and it was very nice. THEN, I saw your website and saw there was a Korean store about 25 miles from my house. So, I went there (and spent a small fortune!), but got everything I needed. Large Napa, radish, paste, flakes, they even had saeujeot! I was so happy!
    Anyway, I made another larger batch of Kimchi and it tastes absolutely wonderful with all the ingredients! The only thing I did differently was to cut the Napa into smaller manageable chunks.
    I was so pleased, I bought your new book!
    Now I can’t wait to try the recipes, including the Kim hi pancake!
    Thanks for your wonderful recipes.


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  35. shey singapore joined 3/20 & has 1 comment

    Hi maangchi..been a follower on youtube and have tried a lot of yur dishes ..yesterday i have tried to make kimchi and left it for fermentation..hmm maybe about 20 hrs now..and was wonderin if its been done alrdy so i tried to test for bubbles and yeah there was but when i tasted the liquid it doesnt taste sour yet..so i wrapped it again and covered the lid and left it at room temp again..am i doing it correctly? when should i start putting it in the fridge and get the sourness done..thank you

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

      “i tasted the liquid it doesnt taste sour yet..so i wrapped it again and covered the lid and left it at room temp again” Great! Yes, wait a little longer until it tastes a little sour and transfer the kimchi to the fridge. Good luck!

    • Shmnnn Romania joined 5/20 & has 1 comment

      Hi Maangchi,
      I hope everything is well with you and your loved ones.
      I finally got to do/try kimchi thanks to you!

      After carefully reading all the variations of kimchi, and gathering the ingredients available in general stores around here( Romania), today was finally tge day to seta milestone for me and my family: the making of the kimchi.

      Some alternative ingredients i had to consider ( it is quarantine):
      I used smoked hering instead of fermented shrimps, and paprika instead of hot pepper flakes, and instead of rice flour for the brine, i used corn flour.
      I just finished wrapping and packing the kimchi. The result: 1 big caserolle and almost 1 full jar.

      I will leave it to marinate overnight as it’ll sure be too little left once everyone gets a taste.


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