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:

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


For making porridge:

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons sweet rice flour (glutinous rice flour)
  • 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar (or 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. Asli Netherlands joined 12/18 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi, I feel so stupid, I didn’t read the last part and I put the kimchi right after making it in the fridge. I made the kimchi on sundayevening and now it is tuesday morning. I put the kimchi out of the fridge now, will my kimchi fail? Or do you recommend to keep it in the fridge?

    • Cesaera Niskayuna, NY joined 5/18 & has 3 comments

      Hi Ali,
      During the summer I made Mak Kimchi from Maangchi- it is just with cut cabbage and a quicker process. I am making it again now. It was great. I want you to know that we put it ALL except for 1 jar in the fridge. It just slows the fermentation process. You can take it out to ferment to your liking and then put it in the fridge. But if you want it to last a while like we did just take some out to ferment and refrigerate the rest. Put the fermented portion back in the fridge as soon as you like the flavor, then eat it soon. Remember to use something to keep the kimchi below the liquid so it stays crunchy and doesn’t get moldy.

  2. tachamps Thailand joined 12/18 & has 1 comment

    How long can keep it in the refrigerator?

    • Cesaera Niskayuna, NY joined 5/18 & has 3 comments

      We made some this summer and put it all in the fridge right away. We take a jar out for a few days to ferment to our liking and then we put it back in and use that one to eat. Then we do the same with the next jar. It lasted since summer and stayed crunchy and yummy. 6 months.

  3. KimSoojin Korea joined 12/18 & has 1 comment

    Hi, I am having trouble finding Turbinado sugar and I was wondering what I could use instead? Thank you

  4. Chaa Indonesia joined 12/18 & has 2 comments

    Hi Maangchi ! Love from Indonesia :)
    I really like your blog. I used to buy ready to eat kimchi, but now i think i wanna make it myself. I hv a question, what cup do you use for measuring ? Or can you convert 1 cup = ?? ml ..?
    And why use kosher salt ? Can i make it with table salt instead ?
    Thank you :)

  5. Roro Michigan joined 11/18 & has 2 comments

    Hi Maangchi,

    Is it possible if you could please make the kimchi with RAW fish or cooked beef that you mentioned in your video? I looked for a recipe but didn’t get anywhere. I LOVE LOVE LOVE your cooking and your recipes!!!!!

    Thank you ‍♀️

    • stephnmax joined 7/15 & has 6 comments


      It is not common to use cooked beef in kimchi but people do make it that way. The beef is usually braised and sliced, then placed in the cabbage leaf along with the rest of the filling. The stock from the beef would be used for the porriage. Also, raw fish or oysters are used in kimchi. Most of the time they are in whole, meaning not chopped up just cleaned and gutted. There are many korean side dishes that are fermented seafood so it is not uncommon.



      • Roro Michigan joined 11/18 & has 2 comments

        Thank you Yong for replying!
        It was really helpful.

        I have a follow up question regarding of using raw fish. Is there any specific fish that’s common to use or any fish can be used? I appreciate if you could give me some direction please.

        Also to clarify, even though the beef is cooked to use in the kimchi making, does it need to wait till spring? I am not sure how long the fermentation takes if I use the meat.

        Thank you so much!!!
        RoRo from Michigan

        P.S. ever since I made kimchi using Maangchi’s recipe, the kimchies at store taste soooooo not good!!
        Thank you again

        • stephnmax joined 7/15 & has 6 comments


          The raw fish used is depended on the region but most commonly pollock, flounder, and Largehead hairtail are put in kimchi. They are chopped up in a bite-size and mixed with the filling of kimchi. I personally have not made with raw fish and I don’t feel comfortable using it but I am willing to try differently fermented fish.

          For the beef kimchi, I’m guessing you can start eating right away just like normal kimchi.

          Thank you for being so interested in a part of Korean culture,


  6. leigh_silcock ireland joined 11/18 & has 1 comment

    Hello I ordered the gochugaru from amazon to make this recipe but a gochugaru paste came instead of flakes. Can I still use this.

    Thanks from Ireland.

    Ps your videos are great xo

  7. cottony paradise joined 5/17 & has 7 comments

    Is this the correct hot pepper flakes?

    See full size image

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,021 comments

      Yes, they are Korean hot pepper flakes. You can use them to make kimchi. But how come the color is a little brownish? Check out the expiration date, please.

  8. krisalis903 Dallas, TX joined 11/18 & has 2 comments

    Thank you for sharing your recipe! I didn’t think I liked kimchi because my only experience with it is store bought or from a restaurant. My Korean friends have told me that home made kimchi is so much better but I’ve always been scared of the fermenting process. Your video made it less scary and now I will never get store bought kimchi again! I could already tell how much more flavorful it would be just by tasting the seasoning paste. I let it ferment overnight and this morning I tried a piece. I couldn’t believe how rich and meaty it tasted. I’ve never been able to just eat kimchi alone with a bowl of rice, but this recipe is so flavorful I see myself eating it that way in the future. My husband loves kimchi but is vegan, so I made another batch omitting the shrimp and fish sauce. I made kelp broth for the porridge and soy sauce in place of fish sauce. It’s just as delicious as the traditional version, and better than the vegan kimchi from the store. He loves it! Thank you again!

  9. mikeila philippines joined 11/18 & has 1 comment

    hi, i am laila from the philippines. i want to show you my version of your recipe, it is really delicious. i did share it to friends and they loved it and asking for more lol. thank you for sharing your recipes

    See full size image

  10. cottony paradise joined 5/17 & has 7 comments

    how to use pear juice instead of porridge?

  11. Chocu55 Germany joined 9/18 & has 11 comments

    I love this kimchi recipe ♡ i made already so much times

    See full size image

  12. Chocu55 Germany joined 9/18 & has 11 comments

    I love this kimchi recipe ♡

  13. ClaribelD Davao City, Philippines joined 11/18 & has 2 comments

    Hi Maangchi!
    I’ve been reading all your korean recipes and decided to make the Napa Cabbage Kimchi. It turned out great except for one thing, my paste has a bitter after taste. Is that normal for freshly made kimchi?
    I used our local radish here in the Philippines instead of the Korean radish or Daikon since it was not available here.

    See full size image

  14. reenthezeet North Carolina, USA joined 11/18 & has 1 comment

    Thank you for this wonderful recipe! I had no idea that homemade would be so much better than store bought. I am two-thirds of the way through my first batch and am looking forward to trying daikon kimchi next!

    See full size image

  15. reginayan Malaysia joined 10/18 & has 1 comment

    Hi, I’m Regina from Malaysia

    I have some question about fermenting kimchi
    Once I have done I put in a plastic container do I have to fill up the whole container with no space or with some space on top of it?

    Do I need to open it up to turn it up and down during the fermenting process?

    How can I avoid kimchi to turn out tasting like have some gas taste?

    Hope to get your reply


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