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. danio Perth, Australia joined 4/19 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi, thank you so much for this recipe. I just wanted to ask if there is any radish that can be substituted for korean radish as I am not able to find it here in Perth. Would daikon be a good substitute or should I just skip it?
    I can’t wait to make my own kimchi :)

  2. Lily5376 NY joined 4/19 & has 4 comments

    Hi Maangchi,

    I’m from NYC, I made the Kimchi follow by your recipe, but I bought the wrong pepper powder, I bought “FINE red pepper powder” , it’s not spice at all so I hurry up and buy the regular red pepper powder and add a cup into my kimchi. My question is all the red pepper powder in most of the Korean supermarket are origin from China. and I’ve seen you used Yeongyang brand in Korea, I’ve seen this Yeongyang in amazon, I want to know should I buy the mild spice or very spice for the kimchi? and also what can I do with non-spice “FINE” red pepper powder?

    See full size image

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

      omg! Your kimchi looks very delicious!
      I also buy Yeongyang hot pepper flakes online. My favorite flakes are medium spicy gochu-garu. But it depends on your choice.

      “what can I do with non-spice “FINE” red pepper powder” When you make gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste), you will need it.

      • Lily5376 NY joined 4/19 & has 4 comments

        Thanks for your respond, the yeong yang red pepper flakes taste much better than the one that I bought from the Korean supermarket coz all of the red pepper flakes in Korean supermarkets are origin from China, i had a stomachache after I ate it, after I ate the yeong yang one and I don’t have stomachache. First,I bought medium spicy to made kimchi ,the first day it wasn’t spicy enough so I bought the extra spicy red pepper flakes right away. But after the 4th day the kimchi turns out very spicy. You’re right, medium spicy is good enough, I still didn’t open the extra spicy one yet, maybe I’ll put one cup instead of two next time. I’m your new fan and I just subscribed your channel, I already tried 7 of your recipes, it was very successful, thank you so much for your hard work. I will buy your new book once it available.

        See full size image

  3. Olivia.H Canada joined 3/19 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi! I’ve been trying your recipes lately, and have enjoyed them immensly. Thank you!

    I have a question about my kimchi. I just finished it tonight, and noticed it doesn’t quite look like everyone elses. My kimchi isn’t submerged in red liquid. It seems to only cover the bottom of the jar. Is that bad? Does more liquid come after it ferments, or did I do something wrong? Please let me know if it looks incorrect!

    It’s my first time making kimchi, but I followed your recipe exactly! (Except for the chili amount, and yet it was still too spicy for me sadly…)

    See full size image

  4. Denmark joined 3/19 & has 1 comment

    Heii Maangchi.

    Is there anything you can use insted off fermented salted shrimp (saeujeot)?

    I can’t find it, in any store I visit, here in DK?

    Plz. help.


  5. HappyBellyHappyNelly Honolulu joined 3/19 & has 2 comments

    OMG! Thank you so much for this kimchi recipe! I’ve alwaus wanted to make kimchi. I made it yesterday for the first time and we couldn’t stop eating it since. It’s a long and tedious process but it’s all worth it! Fresh kimchi is so yummy! Friends and family have been asking on how to make it so I’ve shared it with them.

    I can’t wait to make more of the dishes from your video.

    See full size image

  6. ShanShan Singapore joined 3/19 & has 1 comment

    Hi… I try to make this but it taste weird and abit bitter. Can advise? Thanks .

  7. Iya008 Philippines joined 2/19 & has 1 comment

    Forst time to make kimchi for my family. And I am very happy that it is not only my family who liked it but also my husbands co-workers. Now it I am no longer making it just for us. Now it is also my small business. Thank you For this recipe.

  8. chouche Russia joined 2/19 & has 1 comment

    Thank you Maangchi for the tasty recipes! Right now i’ve prepared my next one kimchi! it’s very delicious!

  9. Nayko france joined 10/18 & has 21 comments

    Last night i intended to make a kimchiguk for dinner but i came home much more later than expected from an after work party… really hungry so I bought a pizza on my way home and began to eat it just after i closed the door.
    This all cheese pizza was great but my craving for kimchi was undeniable, I couldn’t help thinking of the kimchi in the fridge, perfectly fermented after 2 months (for me sour kimchi is the best!) so i quickly chopped 2 leaves and ate it with the cheese pizza and a bit of green tabasco …
    It was incredible !!!!!
    The acidity of the kimchi has a wonderful effect on hot parmigiano and gorgonzola!
    I can’t describe it but i can tell you that my eyes widened :)
    I definatly have to try this combination with other strong cheeses !

    • sanne Munich joined 8/14 & has 220 comments

      We ate fusion pizza in Korea a few years ago. The one with baechu kimchi in place of tomato sauce was the best!

      • Nayko france joined 10/18 & has 21 comments

        OMG !OMG ! Now I’m sure !
        I made a « raclette », a dish consisting essentially on a specific cheese melted under a grill, served with potatoes and varieties of cold cuts.
        I put kimchi on the table to eat with the raclette and it turned out amazing !
        Then i associated it to a maroilles (a typicall cheese from the region i come from) and this time again, amazing !
        Sour Kimchi and strong, aged cheeses are positively good friends.
        We have here more than a thousand types of cheeses and some of them really go well with either butter, fresh lettuce or even fruits like grapes or quinces, I have now a new association to propose.
        Next time i have invited guests, kimchi will be available on the cheese platter !

  10. Rain Malaysia joined 1/19 & has 1 comment

    Hi maangchi ,i have try making kimchi .i make small batch .this is my first try making kimchi .i love how detail your video ,recipe and tips note how to changes the ingredient if hard to find .it really help me .love to try other recipe .

  11. ShyStan22 Canada joined 1/19 & has 1 comment

    Hey Maangchi!, I can’t find sweet rice flour where I live. Is there anything I can substitute it with ? :)

  12. AudreyA New York, New York joined 10/18 & has 3 comments

    I made this recipe for the first time a couple months ago and since then it’s become such a staple in my kitchen. I use it as an ingredient in so many different foods and I love it on its own as well. It’s so delicious and I don’t know what I would eat if I didn’t have it anymore! I just finished making enough to last me a couple months!

  13. Amir Bana USA joined 12/18 & has 1 comment

    This is my first time making kimchi. I started with only one napa cabbage (instead of 4), and instead of weighing the cabbage I just adjusted everything by dividing by 4. The cabbage I used is a bit bigger and I think the paste may not be enough. The kimchi has been fermenting for about 17 hours now. Can I add more paste now? Would it make a difference (better or worse)??
    See attached picture (it’s been fermenting for 17 hours)


    See full size image

  14. Isha Shaikh India joined 12/18 & has 1 comment

    Hello, I wanted to ask u that can I use table salt instead of kosher salt and soya sauce instead of fish sauce and kashmiri red chilli powder instead of gochugaru? Plz let me know!!!

    • Gargpi Germany joined 12/18 & has 1 comment

      Dear Isha, you can leave out fish sauce but soy sauce can’t be a replacement for it, also because soysauce contains a lot more salt than fish sauce and as such I know of recipes where they have used soysauce. But be careful about the salt content. You can replace red chilli powder with one available.

  15. Norienu NYC joined 12/18 & has 1 comment

    Hey. Norie from NYC here. I watch all of your videos on Youtube and use your recipes all the time. I made this Kimchi yesterday. Checked it today and it smells and looks great. I am huge fan!

    See full size image

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