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. Anne Woo Kuala Lumpur joined 5/17 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi! I just tried your recipe and this is the first time I made Kimchi. It was simply delicious! Thanks for your wonderful recipe. Yummy! Yummy! :)

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  2. jamalerich Tokyo, Japan joined 5/17 & has 1 comment

    The heads of Napa cabbage I generally find here are absolutely HUGE, 4-6 lbs each. Do you think I can safely divide one into smaller portions? Or what would you recommend?

  3. Jennormous Vancouver, BC joined 5/17 & has 1 comment

    Me and my friend made this recipe and it turned out really well for us!! I gave some to my boyfriend’s family and they loved it too. I think I’ve won their hearts =p

    I’ve written a blog about it and steps we took. The cabbage we used were way too big so we actually didn’t have enough of the paste. Oh well, I’ll know for next time =]

  4. mais1976 Dubai joined 4/17 & has 1 comment

    hello, your kimchi looks so delicious, i want to try it soon, but I’m only concern about sugar, I’m afraid if i add sugar, it will become alcoholic ferment not lactic ferment, can i skip the sugar? what do you think?

    • Maartje Nederland joined 6/17 & has 1 comment

      It will not ferment alcoholically, the enivornment with the cabbage and the flour-sugar base will direct the bacteria to lactic ferment. I’ve been making the recipe for quite a while and I have never discovered alcohol in the kimchi!

  5. Gwongstar California joined 4/17 & has 1 comment

    I just completed my first try at making Kimchi. Wow it was so delicious. It also helps me to digest. But maybe tonight I just eat Kimchi. Thank you so much for such a wonderful recipe. Mmmmmm.

  6. Jimbobla Loranger, LA joined 4/17 & has 1 comment

    Made this recipe yesterday. 5 pounds Napa Cabbage. Just very little paste left over. This is great flavor. I used my 40ºN Red Boat fish sauce. Thanks, Maangchi. I couldn’t be happier.

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    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 11,284 comments

      I heard red boat fish sauce is also good. I should try it out someday. Looking at your kimchi jars makes me so happy this morning. I can guess you will keep filling the jars when they run out. Good luck!

  7. suehwey Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia joined 4/17 & has 1 comment

    Hi Mangchi,

    Just wondering if it’s safe to eat kimchi and kimchi jjigae when pregnant?

  8. Mylene808 Honolulu, HI joined 4/17 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi! I’m new to your Chanel but wanted to let you know I love your videos. They’re so easy to follow and you’ve made me not afraid to try cooking Korean dishes. I just made this kimchi and it was super simple to make and deliciously fresh.

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  9. Carl O Auckland, New Zealand joined 4/17 & has 3 comments

    Hi Maangchi. Thank you so much for a great and easy to follow recipe and video. I made my first ever batch of Tongbaechu-kimchi (1 mild version and 1 hotter). I’m very happy with the result. Very delicious and sour. It has given me confidence to try more of your wonderful recipes.

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  10. SIJO canada joined 4/17 & has 1 comment

    after a ton of research and sourcing the required ingredients i was able to find this recipe wich seemed like the best . my first time doing kimchi the only thing i was missing was fermented salted shrimp so i just added a little more fish sauce. really excited to try it!!!!

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  11. gelzie Philippines joined 4/17 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maagchi,

    I’m a huge fan of Korean food and I’ve been watching your youtube videos since. I am about to try making my 1st Kimchi this weekend. There are some ingredients that are not available in my area. So my questions are:

    Can I use sock salt instead of Kosher salt?
    I cant find Korean radish, can I use any type of radish?
    What would be better to use regular flour vs having a glutinous rice milled if the sweet glutinous flor is not available?

    • K Anne Philippines joined 8/17 & has 2 comments

      Hi, gelzie! Regular flour is different from rice flour. Kung wala kang mabili, bili ka na lang ng glutinous rice tapos ipagiling mo. :)) If may SM malapit sainyo, try mo icheck, meron silang glutinous flour. :))

  12. ShelbyLT Georgia joined 4/17 & has 2 comments

    Hi Maangchi. .This is a great kimchi recipe. We can’t stop having it everyday. My hubby doesn’t like to eat those buy from outside one anymore! My son always ask for it with saltine crackers after he comes back from school. Thank you so much for your recipe. Yummy!

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  13. fatstrat U.S. joined 3/17 & has 3 comments

    I made this with baby bok choy instead of Napa cabbage and added puréed Asian pear and let it ferment slowly in the fridge. After 2 1/2 weeks it still needs more time but it is delicious right now anyway!

  14. aofmonst123 Bali joined 4/17 & has 1 comment

    hi! i made kimchi but the kimchi paste was more than enough. can i store kimchi paste in the refrigerator for next use??

  15. VivianL Malaysia joined 4/17 & has 2 comments

    Hi Maangchi
    Thanks so much for this recipe. Here’s my kimchi that I just made for the first time. I did the sane mistake as some of the other readers who posted in this forum which was using too much salt to salt the cabbage. The paste tasted very good but the cabbage was too salty.
    I would like to ask if I should add the radish now or do i add after fermentation? Also i added raw squid to my kimchi. How long should I wait before the kimchi is safe to be consumed?
    Thanks a lot.

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    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 11,284 comments

      Wow, the kimchi looks great! If you like to fix salty kimchi, you should add some chunks of radish when the kimchi is still fresh. After kimchi ferments, it’s not a good idea to add radish.

      • VivianL Malaysia joined 4/17 & has 2 comments

        Thank you so much Maangchi! The kimchi is absolutely delicious! Nothing I have tasted outside even in the top Korean matches this! I am having kimchi for breakfast, lunch and dinner now!
        I managed to find all the ingredients that you use and followed your recipe to the exact (except for salting the cabbage part)..

        Anyways for other readers in Malaysia, water dropwort (minari), is call Daun Selom (in Malay language). This can typically be found in smaller supermarkets right together with Ulam Raja (malay) herb. It is actually quite a well used herb in Malaysia, typically eatened raw as ulam (malay word for salad which is dressed with sambal belacan (spicy ground chilli with fermented shrimp paste)).

        As for fermented salted shrimp (saeujeot), this is call cencaluk (malay) and can be easily found anywhere. Smaller supermarkets normally have them in long thin bottles.

        Hope this helps other readers.

        • nr.munirah malaysia joined 5/17 & has 1 comment

          what paste you used is it the same as maangchi used? in my area there is no korean chili paste.. :( should i just use the chili paste like we use to make sambal nasi lemak?

          • kasturi1995 Kepong, Malaysia joined 6/17 & has 1 comment

            Hey! The gochugaru can be found in bigger Jusco supermarkets or if you’re in KL.. there is a K mart! I have seen some in Jaya Grocer too!

      • Johnsour29 Palm Bay fl joined 7/17 & has 1 comment

        Hi I just made the kimchi and maanchi says to leave it out for a few days to ferment then to put in the refrigerator but I spoke to a few Koreans I know and they all said not to leave it out and just to put it in the refrigerator right away after making it. I don’t know who to believe. Can you clear this up for me?

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