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. felina_ Calgary joined 11/22 & has 1 comment

    This is my first time making kimchi and I’m so excited to try it in the next few days. How often is opening once in a while when placed in a sealed jar? Thanks for your recipe!!

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    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 564 comments

      Congratulations! Your kimchi looks fantastic! When kimchi starts fermenting, it releases its gases and sometimes creates bubbles that give the taste of sourness. So you will need to open the lid to release the gases. Otherwise, the pressure caused by the gases will increase and eventually the kimchi may explode especially the container is an airtight container. Koreans eat kimchi everyday, so we always have to open the lid of the kimchi, After taking some kimchi, be sure to press down the top of the kimchi with a spoon to let the top part be submerged in the kimchi brine and prevent it from being exposed to air so that it won’t get mold. Open your kimchi lid regularly maybe every other day? And press down on the top even though you don’t eat it often. Your kimchi wants your care. : )

  2. JerriMorris USA joined 10/22 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi! Thank you for this recipe and video. I’ve always wanted to make my grandma’s recipe for kimchi, but was always intimidated and not sure where to start. Your recipe is very similar, so it really helped me to be able to follow along and have some more precise measurements to go off of. Mine came out a bit saltier than I expected, but I’m very happy with my first try! Making kimchi is a lot of work, but it really is worth it to feel closer to family that you don’t get to see often :^)

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  3. Chester United States joined 9/22 & has 1 comment

    Hi ! I just made a small kimchi from your beautiful recipe!
    Somehow the top of kimchi color looks yellowish than usual. I left 3days room temperature.
    Is this ok to eat ? I never had this problem from my homemade kimchi experiences .

    Please let me know what you think :)

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    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 564 comments

      Oh, the top of the kimchi was oxidized. Just remove the brown part. You still can eat it as long as the kimchi underneath is red.
      Press down on the top of the kimchi with a large wooden spoon whenever you take some so that the kimchi is submerged in the brine.

  4. oceank1 Minnesota joined 9/22 & has 1 comment

    I cannot wait to try your recipe. I really want to purchase a E-Jen Premium Kimchi, Sauerkraut Container Probiotic Fermentation with Inner Vacuum Lid, I just don’t know what size I need for this recipe? Also, can this be made Gluten Free? If so, can you suggest products to use?

  5. Micah_Torrance United States joined 9/22 & has 1 comment

    I’ve got my third batch in my fermentation crock. I just can’t make enough of it! My only substitution is using Thai fermented shrimp paste which I love for its enchanting fragrance.

    Thank you for the recipe! It’s a keeper.

  6. nforkgma United States joined 6/22 & has 3 comments

    I live very rurally and none of the grocery stores around here carry many Asian supplies. I have been unable to find any fermented salted shrimp (saeujeot) online. I did find a salted shrimp sauce on Amazon. Can I use the same amount of this to substitute for the saeujeot?

  7. taimiskitchen Finland joined 8/22 & has 1 comment

    Wow this was so so good! Can’t wait to try the kimchi in your other recipes later on. Thank you for the recipe!

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  8. StellaStar San Francisco, CA joined 8/22 & has 4 comments

    I made the Tongbaechu: one mild, and one spicy (different Gochugaru brands). Soooo delicious!

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  9. Leaf T Australia joined 11/17 & has 5 comments

    Hi. Can someone tell me if there’s a way to search comments? I want to make it again and remember posting photos and suggestions that helped me get a great result with Maangchi’s recipe. Thanks again Maangchi!

    • BrianF Los Angeles joined 7/22 & has 1 comment

      For most web pages or word processors, you can use the keyboard shortcut Command+F on a Mac, or Control+F on Windows for finding the information that you need. Notably, Control+F is the keyboard shortcut for searching within a web page. Then type the word you’re searching for.

  10. Leslie208 United States joined 7/22 & has 2 comments

    Love this recipe. I think I made a mistake though in using this in place of fish sauce. Did I ruin it? Is it safe?

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  11. I made your kimchi, and OMG!! It was the best kimchi I have tasted. Homemade is way better than store bought! Thank you so much for posting the video and recipe. I learn best from watching videos, so thank you and please keep making these great videos.

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  12. Mcromero0915 Massachusetts joined 6/22 & has 1 comment

    Hello! I have a question about this recipe. I made it once a couple years ago and loved it but haven’t made it since because I moved and have had some trouble finding ingredients. I found daikon radish, is that okay to use instead of the Korean radish in your recipe? Also, what do you think of using asian pear in the recipe? I’ve seen some recipes that use it and some don’t so I’m not sure what to think. Thank you! Love your recipes

  13. Mythos Romania joined 5/22 & has 1 comment

    Thank you for the recipe, i use it to make kimchi since 6 years now. Yesterday i made a new batch of kimchi and is magnificent, i have used honey instead of shugar and i have also mixed in som thin slices of Kohlrabi.
    Thank you again!!

  14. Gaelicat Russia joined 5/22 & has 1 comment

    Hello, Maangchi!

    I saw different types of kimchi recipes on your page and all of the use some type of fermented fish product. Is it required? I can’t get fermented shrimps or good fresh squid or oysters where i live, but i really want to make some kimchi.

  15. Cloudyun Netherlands, Amsterdam joined 4/22 & has 3 comments

    Thank you for the recipe Maangchi!

    I’ve been using it for the past 2 years, and it’s delicious every time! Last winter I made some and put it to ferment in our backyard barn, but the temperature suddenly dropped and my kimchi froze! I ended up letting it sit for 2 months before eating.

    The cabbages looked really delicious and green today, so I decided to buy some and make kimchi. I was running out of my last batch anyway :)

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  16. xiaoli Australia joined 3/22 & has 1 comment

    Love this recipe! Tried once and taste great! I do have a question, I’m not sure if the fermenting process went well, as I didn’t have enough brine that covered the cabbage? I only used half a cabbage to try. Should I have used more porridge?

  17. Emjacl Hampshire joined 2/22 & has 1 comment

    I can only get shrimp paste locally. How much shrimp paste should I use in this recipe and do I still need to use fish sauce. Thanks

  18. TheBolt Florida joined 12/21 & has 1 comment

    What size of container would match this recipe? 2.1 Gal?


  19. Lovecraft Vancouver Island joined 11/21 & has 1 comment

    Maangchi! SO GOOD. I make this batch of kimchi every few months and we eat it every day. It’s the best kimchi I have ever had. I do everything exactly as you’ve written (except I haven’t been able to find minari every time). It takes three days in my kitchen and I use a heat mat in the fall/winter. I’ve given some to friends and have converted them all to your recipe. Thank you!! :)

  20. Armoon Netherlands joined 10/21 & has 1 comment

    I’m trying to make this as well! Hope it comes out well! I couldn’t find the “saeujeot”, so I’m using extra fish sauce instead. I did see “fermented salted fish” which had other kinds of fish in it, but I didn’t dare to buy it. It was a Thai brand I think. Do you think that would work? In my area they always have lots of Chinese/Indonesian products but few Korean products.

    They also had this stuff: https://www.tokogembira.nl/nl/kimchi-base-multipurpose-sauce-473ml-surasang.html
    Do you have any experience with that?
    Thanks best regards!

    • Cloudyun Netherlands, Amsterdam joined 4/22 & has 3 comments

      Hi, I also live in the Netherlands.

      I leave the dried fish/anchovies out, because our toko doesn’t sell ones without fish bones! Just use more of the other fish ingredient + also the salted shrimps! (Those are usually in every toko, but sell quickly). Readymade kimchi base can be used, but it simply isn’t as good as homemade! Making it yourself doesn’t take a lot of effort + it tastes twice as good

  21. dancing_dave2003 Blountsville, Al. joined 10/21 & has 1 comment

    Question, When The Napa cabbage is Fermenting in the Fridge, how many Days do you Wait Before Eating it? Wanting to Make, for So long. Had Korean Style Before, But the Lady is No longer Part of My Friends Family, any longer. But I Miss her Kimchi!

    • Soobin Ithaca NY joined 2/21 & has 6 comments

      Normally kimchi is not fermented in the fridge but instead somewhere warmer like your kitchen. If you want to ferment it in your fridge it takes somewhere between 1 and 3 weeks depending on how sour you want it.
      Hope this helps!

  22. Babbella10 Lethbridge Alberta joined 9/21 & has 1 comment

    Hi – I just recently made the Kimchi recipe on here – the one without the squid. I had it on the counter for 3 days and it was bubbling great.in fact I had to remove some…( I used fermenting lids) – after 3 days I put it into the fridge and when I checked on it yesterday – the liquid had disappeared – not all of it..but it certainly wasn’t covering the veggies anymore – it smells okay…but I am a little nervous because I did use fish sauce and salted shrimp. I love kimchi and need to learn how to perfect it – I eat at least a cup a day!! HELP

  23. I made this kimchi for some friends, and one of my friends brought home some for his Korean mother in law. She said it was some of the best she’s had in a long time. I was very proud. Thanks, Maangchi!

  24. Marc C Quebec joined 7/21 & has 1 comment

    This recipe is a real monster, it keeps getting bigger every time I make it !!!! Thank you very much for the education, it is delicious !!!!

  25. Mauiomi Maui, Hi joined 4/21 & has 3 comments

    Maangchi please help. Made my 2nd batch which doesn’t have the great flavor of my 1st batch. I’m guessing that I did not let the salted cabbage sit long enough since I may have rushed the process. I now have watery and not much tasty kimchee, like the store bought kind. Should I drain the kimchee and add more of the porridge and seasonings, or just add more of the seasonings – shrimp paste, pepper flakes? Please help. Thanks!

  26. Mauiomi Maui, Hi joined 4/21 & has 3 comments

    You’ve ruined me…after preparing this kimchee, I cannot do store bought ever again. Your video and recipe made this very approachable and easy and I had fresh kimchee in no time. Now I just wish my husband can learn to eat a spicier kimchee.

  27. gasley Philippines joined 8/19 & has 2 comments

    Hi Maangchi,

    Made this today, though I think the cabbage is a bit salty, probably not washed it thorougly. Will my kimchi go bad? What can I do to take out the salty taste? Thank you

  28. AyPeeElTee Chicago joined 4/21 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi, I have a question about making the porridge: Is it okay to replace the sugar with stevia? And thank you sincerely for sharing your passions and culture with us! I’ve been using your recipes to help me on my weight loss life change and to not become diabetic (I just swap out the noodles and rice for spaghetti squash and riced cauliflower.) I love Korean food, without your recipes and teaching how to shop and cook Korean food I wouldnt have made the progress that I’ve made. I am very thankful to you.

  29. ssy Malaysia joined 3/21 & has 1 comment

    Hi, Maangchi, your kimchi recipe is great ! but the problem i facing is i just made it 2 days before and it starts fermenting but i found that it was bland. What can i add in during the fermenting process as i heard that bland kimchi will easily go bad.

  30. Jeffry Kuala Lumpur. joined 2/21 & has 1 comment

    If I don’t have fermented salted shrimp, can I use salted shrimp sauce to make the traditional kimchi recipe?

  31. SweetT Conway, AR. USA joined 9/20 & has 2 comments

    First I want to say that I think you are fabulous! Thank you so much for all that you share with us! I have made many of your recipes. They are so easy to follow because you really take the time to TEACH us how to cook Korean. I really want to make this kimchi the way that you do but I cannot find the salted brined shrimp. They didn’t even have it at my Asian food market. What is the best thing to substitute for this ingredient?

  32. Oya Libya joined 11/20 & has 2 comments

    Dear maangchiI want to ask you about kimchi,when fermented is this meaning some ingredient turn to alcohol, because I am muslium and I can eat alcoholic food, and I really like you cooking video.
    thank you 

  33. sweet specs Singapore joined 10/20 & has 2 comments

    Dear Maangchi,

    Thank you so much for this recipe. I have been buying supermarket kimchi because I always thought making kimchi was difficult. But I finally tried it today (just one cabbage for a start) and I couldn’t believe how easy it was! Will be making more!!

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  34. Nayko france joined 10/18 & has 34 comments

    My first bite of kimchi was from the one I made thanks to Maangchi’s recipe and since then you can always find home-made kimchi in my fridge. For the first time I bought kimchi in a Korean grocery store (I ran out of home-made kimchi only 2 weeks ago so I decided to try this store bought jar , waiting for the kimjang time and the large batch of kimchi resulting).
    Well, I’m proud to say that the home-made kimchi I’ve learned to make here is definitly better than the store bought kimchi, so much more flavorful, savory, it tastes rich …
    Thank you Maangchi!

  35. Novice2018 USA joined 8/20 & has 1 comment

    What about white kimchi. I have a langauge partner that says in Korea there is white kimchi without pepper flakes. He likes it better. Is the recipe the same, just minus the flakes?

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