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)

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  1. sanne Munich joined 8/14 & has 263 comments

    Add jalapenos or – even better – habanero peppers.

  2. kiminomikata San Fransisco, CA joined 6/20 & has 1 comment

    Maangchi this has been my go to recipe for Kimchi for a while, I used to watch my grandmother make it with friends that would come over while I lived in Japan. Now I make this at home about every 2 – 3 months. I wish you could give us a Summer Version of Kimchi , lately the recent batch I made I added Korean Pear.

  3. SitiAisyahCucina Singapore joined 6/20 & has 1 comment

    Is delicious thank you it’s my first time to make it and it’s success

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  4. Jessicaf North carolina joined 6/20 & has 14 comments

    This is our go to kimchi recipe. We omit the shrimp usually but we make this twice a year and share with family and friends. Everyone says it’s the best kimchi they’ve ever had. We have made several of your kimchi’s, all delicious. This is the best though.

  5. Nusrat Andalib Dhaka, Bangladesh joined 6/20 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi

    This is my very first post/comment on your blog
    I tried your recipe for kimchi made Cabbage and Chive kimchi. As napa cabagge was not available i tried with normal cabbage. Its so yummy.

    Thank you

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  6. indyalex Indianapolis joined 6/20 & has 3 comments

    ….and here is a picture before putting it away. I hope I see bubbles tomorrow.

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  7. indyalex Indianapolis joined 6/20 & has 3 comments

    I made it this morning and saved a fresh bowl for lunch (after riding my bike). Tastes so good. I will keep it on the counter until tomorrow night. Then I will check on it.
    I didn’t use the fermented shrimp and only used one cup of Korean hot pepper flakes. IT’S SPICY.
    Thanks, Maangchi.

    See full size image

  8. Lucy Ramirez Jalisco,México joined 6/20 & has 2 comments

    Hello maangchi!! I’m your fan from Mexico, I’ll try to make kimchi for first time, but I can’t get daikon where i live, there is something that I can use instead of it?

  9. Gu ching Singapore joined 6/20 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi Im from Singapore where can I buy original onggi any link or website yiu can refer? Thanks a lot

  10. Blessed Singapore joined 4/10 & has 18 comments

    Hi Maangchi, may I know if I can store kimchi in such metal containers by Lock&Lock?

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  11. Bhmacinnis Canada joined 5/20 & has 2 comments

    Hi Maangchi!

    I can only find Korean hot pepper powder Where I live, not flakes. Can I still use equal amounts in my kimchi or do I need to use more or less?

    • HilaryJ Deep in the heart of Texas joined 6/20 & has 1 comment

      I can answer this!! I have a Korean store near me, but no flakes, just powder was available. I think there are supply chain issues because of the current pandemic.

      The powder isn’t as fine as what we know as chile powder, so I bought it. I didn’t use the full 2 cups, 1.5 cups instead. The heat is intense! I realized, after the fact, because the powder finer, there is more surface area of the bits because there is more of them, and therefore more heat.

      My next time I’m only going to add 1/2 cup of red pepper powder, and see where the heat level is at. If we need more heat, I can always up the red pepper level.

  12. Fnarazak Malaysia joined 5/20 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi..
    Tq for recipe.. first time making this halal kimchi.. but a bit spicy.. hahaha

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  13. janinn Philippines joined 5/20 & has 2 comments

    Hi Maangchi i really need your help

    i tried a new gochugaru brand for my kimchi, when i was making the paste, after putting the gochugaru, i tasted it and it is not spicy, is it really like that? will it become spicier in the fermentation process? for 7 kilos of kimchi, i put 5 cups of gochugaru :(

  14. echacha Toronto, Canada joined 4/20 & has 6 comments

    Thank you for Maamgchi the traditional kimchi recipe. I have made 3lb of Napa cabbage and I can eat fresh and aged kimchi at home.i really like the taste of freshly make kimchi and also I did fermented kimchi to 36 hours until this morning 6 am. But I am a bit fed up once I saw my jar were slowly spilled out some kimchi juices from the jar. During that period, the fermentation were so active inside the jar and I opened the jar and ‘pop’ sound. Some juice came out and make a bit a mess on the table this morning. I hurry to put in the fridge this morning at 7pm. When I drove to work I am still worry about my kimchi is going to expose. This is so interesting experience to me and when I get home I hope my fridge is still ok. Kidding

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  15. AyaChi236 Brampton, Ontario Canada joined 5/20 & has 3 comments

    Hi Ms. Maangchi!

    Once again, thank you for another yummy recipe! I made one Jar of it and its all gone in a week! That’s how yummy it is Now, every time the whole family eat we always have kimchi in every meal we eat.

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