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.

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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)

Ingredients

Makes about 8 pounds (3.6 kg) of Kimchi
For salting cabbage:

  • 6 pounds (about 2.7 kg) napa cabbage
  • ½ cup Kosher salt (2.5 ounces: 72 grams)

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For making porridge:

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons sweet rice flour (glutinous rice flour)
  • 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar (brown or white sugar)

Vegetables:

  • 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:

Directions

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)

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811 Comments:

  1. 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 11,684 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.

  2. 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 11,684 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!

  3. 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?

    • sanne Munich joined 8/14 & has 200 comments

      Hi tatis,

      Since Maangchi lives in New York, she uses American cups for measurement – 240 ml.
      I do know your problem – especially when it comes to the amount of rice! I have a Cuckoo … ;-)

      Bye, Sanne.

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 11,684 comments

      yes, sanne is right. It’s 240 ML. Happy cooking! Sanne, thanks a lot!

      • sanne Munich joined 8/14 & has 200 comments

        Hi Maangchi,

        You’re welcome! Pounds, ounces, liquid ounces, quarts, geun ;-) – I’m used to convert all that to the metric system.
        Cups are difficult!

        And: Thank you!

        Btw: @tatis: further up any recipe-page, to the right, just above the photos – Maangchi has put a wonderful weights-and-measures-converter there, initially set to from Cups to Liters …

        Bye, Sanne.

  4. 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.

  5. 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! :)

  6. 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 11,684 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. : )

  7. 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!

  8. 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.

  9. 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 ([email protected])

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 11,684 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.

  10. 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?
    Thanks!!

    • 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 ! 🍀

  11. 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. :)

  12. 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!

  13. 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

  14. 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! :)

  15. 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.

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