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. Franco C.A.B.A. Buenos Aires joined 6/17 & has 1 comment

    Hi!! First of all, I loved how easy it looks and the energy you put into these videos, but I have two questions:
    The first one is: Is this kimchi salty or sweet? I know it´s sour but I was wondering if it´s a salty sour or a sweet one.
    The second would be: If it is sweet sour, how could you make it saltier?

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

      Kimchi should be a little salty but if you feel it’s too bland, add more salt. When kimchi ferments, it tastes sour. Fresh kimchi won’t taste sour.

  2. Mi Heui Iran - Tehran joined 5/16 & has 16 comments

    I always kimchi but now i want make kimchi with add freash shrimp
    how to use freash shrimp in my kimchi?!
    I can add shrimp without shell? or frozen shrimp?
    please help me Thank you my dear ^^

    See full size image

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

      The kimchi looks so delicious!
      If you like to add shrimp to your kimchi, you should add very fresh shrimp or frozen and wait until the kimchi ferments before eating it.
      If you like to make kimchi paste with shrimp, the shrimp should be very fresh. Koreans use live small sized shrimp and it makes the paste sweet. Shrimp goes bad easily, so be sure to use very fresh or live shrimp and also you need to wait until the kimchi ferments nicely, then the shrimp will also ferment. When I add large shrimp (frozen shrimp), I eat the kimchi at least 4 months after making it because the shrimp won’t ferment in a short time. So I add shrimp to my kimchi only for winter kimchi.

  3. chuchovip Tampico joined 6/17 & has 2 comments

    Hi Maangchi, is my first time seeing ur videos.

    And its my first time trying to make korean food. Here in my town there´s an Factory of Korea named “Posco” and theres a lot of koreans. So they ask me to make to them korean food in their employees dining room, so they want korean original food. So i see ur videos, i have some questions:

    – If i can´t find napa cabbage can i use something diferent?
    – Can i make the fish sauce or the flavor is different?
    – If i cant find korean radish, can i use raddish from mexico is the red one?

    i hope u can answer me a few questions

    thank u so much!

    • indelibledotink Honolulu joined 5/11 & has 19 comments

      you can substitute other veggies, koreans make kimchi with everything, but the classic is napa cabbage (wong bak).

      you can make your own fish sauce, but it’ll be in any asian food section of the grocery store – japanese chinese, korean, filipinos, southeast asians all use fish sauce. it smells terrible, but just a little brings out amazing flavor.

      if you can’t find an asian radish or turnip, it’s still ok, skip it. sliced yello or red onion is a good substitute too.

  4. Lorenadc Texas joined 6/17 & has 1 comment

    HI , I always love kimchi but this is my first time making it, after I made it, I immediately placed it in the ref because I thought you can not leave it in room temperature if you are using a plastic container, now it taste good but I’m missing the sourry taste, it’s been a week now in the ref, what can I do about it?

  5. Ruthey Hong Kong joined 6/17 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi, i tried this recipe and it worked out delicious and everyone loved it. I have used a malaysian version of the fermented shrimp ‘Cencaluk’ and it still turned out well.
    I have the same batch for about 1 month now, i find the kimchi becomes soft and a little too sour.
    Is it meant to be that way? and how can i reduce the sourness/acidity in the kimchi?

    Thanks alot!

  6. oyinny Philippines joined 6/17 & has 3 comments


    I’m planning to prepare 통배추 김치 this weekend. Hhh I’m mentally preparing myself now kkkk. What I want to know though is if it’s possible to substitute the shrimp with something else since I’m allergic to crustaceans. I was thinking to just skip the shrimp, but I don’t want to compromise the flavor. Thank you, Maangchi~~~!!!

  7. Asenaa93 Berlin/Germany joined 6/17 & has 2 comments

    Hello Maangchi! Thank you for the awesome recipe! It was really easy to follow and tastes amazing !
    한국학 선생님이 도 아주 잘 만들었다고 했어요. ^^

  8. unblissful Denmark joined 6/17 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi!

    I was just wondering if you can substitute the turbinado sugar for another kind?

  9. shimeringstars McKees Rocks joined 6/17 & has 10 comments

    I made your kimchi and I absolutely love it! I can’t wait to make more of your recipes.

    See full size image

  10. shimeringstars McKees Rocks joined 6/17 & has 10 comments

    I want to use your kimchi recipe but I’m not entirely sure that I got the correct pepper flakes. If you could tell me, is this okay to use this.

    See full size image

  11. Amyimogen South Africa joined 5/17 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi!
    I love your videos and website. I’ve made kimchi twice before using this recipe (and it was amazing!) – however I only did 2 heads of cabbage at a time and therefore halved your recipe. However, this time I did 3 heads (3kgs) and did your exact recipe (however I omit ginger and squid). I was very excited to have LOTS of kimchi on hand – however, after 3 day ferment I tried my kimchi and it’s waaay too fishy and garlicky I also find the kimchi is much softer than usual and has kind of lost its texture.

    Did I simply over-flavour? Or is my kimchi not right in fermenting process? I would feel very sad to throw away 3kgs worth of kimchi… but I also have a fear of “off” food.

    Please advise!

    Much love ❤️

    See full size image

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

      Don’t throw away your kimchi. Kimchi goes soggy when the cabbage quality is not good or it’s not salty enough. But it’s still edible. You can make kimchi stew to use it up quickly. Maybe add more salt in your next batch of kimchi.

  12. jhaniz philippines joined 5/17 & has 4 comments

    hi maangchi, just a question, can i sit kimchi on room temperature for a week or 2? what will happen if so? i will start a small business, and for now i dont have frig to store it at first hand. can anyone help me too?

  13. GemMarie Philippines joined 5/17 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi, I really love this recipe. Made it for the 4th time now. But I am just curious, what is the shelf life of this kimchi recipe? I let it ferment in room temperature for 2 days and it’s now stored in the refrigerator. Hoping for your response soon. Thanks! ^_^

  14. Agneswei Malaysia joined 5/17 & has 1 comment

    Hey Maangchi, This is the first time I made kimchi and it’s Super easy and tasty!! But because I’m staying in Malaysia and it’s forever hot weather. The kimchi is easy to fermented. After I made the kimchi and put in room temperature for 1 day then I store into the fridge. However, my kimchi become very sour only after 1 week? What could be the reason my kimchi become sour so fast? And also, the kimchi become not crispy after 2 weeks. Usually the kimchi can be crispy all the time, right? Is it the reason I did not drain the cabbage well after I washed?

    See full size image

  15. IrishCanlas Kuwait joined 5/17 & has 1 comment

    Hello!, Can i substitute hot pepper powder for sweet paprika or red chili powder ? I cant find hot pepper powder here. Thank you !

More comments to read! Jump to page: 1 16 17 18 19 20 23

Leave a Reply