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 side 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 recipe), which is very similar but is easier because you to chop up the cabbage into bite size pieces 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. (I also have a vegan kimchi version of this recipe, too!)

For me, this kimchi recipe has the traditional flavor I am looking for. It 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.

To make this kimchi we need to first soak the cabbage in a salty brine to soften the leaves (some people swear by sea salt but I always use Kosher salt in all my Korean dishes). Then lactobacillus bacteria can do their work and convert sugar into lactic acid, which preserves the cabbage and changes the flavor over time. But you don’t have to wait for the kimchi to ferment before you enjoy it, you can eat it right away and keep eating it as it ferments and eventually goes sour. Then it’s perfect for dishes like kimchi-jjigae and kimchi stir fried rice.

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 kimchi-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:


Seasonings and spices:


Prepare and salt the cabbage

  1. If the cabbage cores stick out too much, trim them off with your knife over your cutting board.
  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 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, give them a final rinse, 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. In a large bowl, 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. If you’re using a sealed jar with a lid, be sure to open it once a while, let it breathe, and press down on the top of the kimchi.
  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. SuzyCreamCheese Florida joined 1/15 & has 3 comments

    I made Cabbage Kimchi using the recipe in your cookbook. Can’t wait to try fresh tomorrow. Very easy to make from the recipe.

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  2. Jeffery Ohio, USA joined 11/16 & has 5 comments

    I made this Kimchi a few days ago. Due to food allergies, I had to leave out the fish sauce. I decided to try the kimchi today and it’s starting to get a little sour. It was delicious, but I can only imagine it will taste even better over time. Thank you Maangchi. I’m in love with all of your recipes.

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  3. KellyK Iowa joined 11/16 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi!

    I’m having a problem with my kimchi! Can someone help me? I made kimchi using this recipe for the first time. I put it all in a big jar and left it out on the counter for 36 hours to start fermenting. The jar filled with juice that the cabbage released and the kimchi that was submerged in the juices looks and tastes great! However, the kimchi that was above water level has a stronger sour smell and the red pepper past that used to be red turned yellow?! What did I do wrong?

  4. Aeresmei7 Philippines joined 11/16 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi! Thank you very much for this recipe! I’m from the Philippines and I have always wanted to make my own kimchi but couldn’t because well I don’t know how and there are no ingredients available. I recently found a korean mart near our house and bought some ingredients there. though they didn’t have the fermented shrimp. Instead I bought “Fresh Alamang” that’s the small shrimp in our market and just fermented it in salt for a week… also tried your fermented squid… didn’t know if it would turn out ok. But it was actually really good… hehe… so I made the kimchi with your recipe but I made a mistake with the amount of garlic. I thought it wouldn’t be ok because it had that bitter after taste when I first tasted it. But I read here that I should ferment it a bit first. So I left in a shaded area of the house overnight (its very humid here) and when I tasted it again when I woke up it tasted great! I’m really Happy! My brother and I really love korean food… I’ll try cooking spicy rice cake next since I bought some gochujang. Again Thank you!

  5. TXChris Dallas, TX joined 11/16 & has 3 comments

    After upwards of 8 years or so of trying to make kimchi off and on, and failing every time to get it right, I finally stumbled onto this video, the first one of yours I ever watched, recently. I’ve become a huge fan and now I not only have a batch of kimchi fermenting away under my sink, I plan on making doenjang-jigae tomorrow night for dinner to have with it! Thank you for sharing your knowledge and skill with us, Maangchi!

    • TXChris Dallas, TX joined 11/16 & has 3 comments

      UPDATE: I busted out the kimchi along with some rice, for dinner, tonight, and it was fantastic. Sour and just spicy enough. I may have let it stay under the sink a bit too long, but I like it anyway. I’m happy! 감사합니다!

  6. Sora93 Denmark joined 10/16 & has 1 comment

    I have made this twice alone and once with a friend. I don’t always have all the ingredients, but with the cabbage, carrots, spring onions and seasoning I have had homemade kimchi in my fridge for a year. Love this recipe!
    The picture is of the kimchi I made Wednesday. It was bubbling away Thursday after work and is now resting in the fridge.

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  7. paulinaj Bermuda joined 10/16 & has 1 comment

    Hello Maangchi!

    I lived in Korea for a few years, fell in love with kimchi, and finally decided to try making it myself. However, my kimchi tastes very strange. It has an unusually bitter aftertaste. I could not find saeujeot, so I used Thai shrimp paste with bean oil, and instead of buchu, I used Chinese flowering chives (garlic chives). Could these two substitutions be the cause of the odd flavour? Otherwise, I followed your recipe EXACTLY… or so I think?!

    P.S. I love your website and your cookbook ~ thank you! ^_^

  8. Cathy Wong Singapore joined 10/16 & has 1 comment

    Thanks Maangchi! This is my 1st time made kimchi. The seasonings and spices taste very nice. Im so happy that finally i can prepare homemade kimchi. Now i’m going to ferment it.

    But i got a question about the cabbages. I accidently sprinkle double volume salt in the cabbages. So after 2hours, i tried to wash many times but the cabbages are still taste very salty. Is this normal or is about the amount of salt i put?

    Thanks again!

  9. Feli INFIRES by Korea Singapore joined 10/16 & has 2 comments

    Hello maangchi !!! 안녕하새요 my name is Feli 배소린 im 14 years old i love everything about korea especially cooking !! So i went to korean grocery store yesterday and brought so much so i decided to make KIMCHI !!!! And i made it !! Now i waiting for it to ferment THANK YOU SOO MUCH !!! 사랑해요 감사합니다 !!!

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  10. Juansarmen España joined 10/16 & has 2 comments

    Hi Maangchi!

    I already prepared your kimchi recipe and and as my girlfriend as me we love it! But I’ve got a question. Once you’ve prepared it how long can you conserve it in the fridge cause the flavour is changing by the time mando we’re worried if could it be dangerous.


  11. Loidette Manila, Philippines joined 7/16 & has 3 comments

    Thanks for the recipe.

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  12. Danierusan Albuquerque, NM joined 9/16 & has 1 comment

    Thank you so much for this recipe! I am a big fan of yours! I have made your 갈비 recipe and Soft Tofu 찌개 recipe and really enjoyed it!

    I have made some kimchi before with my 어머니 before, but I am sure that yours is better. I can’t wait to make your recipe!

    Thank you for sharing!

  13. michelle751164 malaysia joined 9/16 & has 1 comment

    oh,the texture was very good,my friends and my family really loves it .Thanks for the fantastic food .

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  14. Kendralee Scranton, PA joined 9/16 & has 1 comment

    I want to try my hand at making kimchi but I don’t have the salted shrimp. Is there something ESE I can use as a substitute? Sardines perhaps?

  15. Dksaami Usa joined 9/16 & has 1 comment

    I’m using an onggi pot. Do I need to put a weight on the kim chi as it ferments like I do with sauerkraut to prevent spoilage?

  16. leeannetessier Québec joined 9/16 & has 2 comments

    Hi Maangchi,

    I want to know if the fish sauce can be substituted for something else? Thank^^

  17. Valeria Ecuador joined 8/16 & has 3 comments

    Tried searching for info and video not working. For this kimchee recipe, do I use 2 cups of the milder hot pepper flakes or the spicy hot pepper flakes? Thank you in advance.

  18. Auriestela Dominican Republic joined 9/16 & has 1 comment

    Hi, i have not tried doing Kimchi before but I will love to do it and I wil like to have all the ingredients but in my country is really really difficult to find hot pepper flakes or fish sauce what should I do in this situation, I had the opportunity of trying Kimchi and I am exited to do it by my self. I love your videos, thanks for your time recording them.

  19. Adriel1989 Sarawak, Malaysia. joined 9/16 & has 1 comment


    I tried making using this recipe but the colour seems different. When I first made it, it was a rich red colour like in your pictures. But when I tried making it again, it just isn’t right. It is a deeper red, almost like brownish red. There also doesn’t seem to be as much juice or water when I ferment it. Am I doing it wrong? I followed the recipe to the letter.

    • Britaniola St. John's, Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada joined 9/16 & has 1 comment

      Could it be that your red pepper flakes are not as fresh as they were when you made your first batch? Best to store it in the freezer in a plastic freezer bag with as much air taken out as possible.

      I had a bad batch one time with old hot pepper flakes. The taste was really off.

      I have a hard time getting hot pepper flakes where I live so when I get some, I get enough to last a long time. When I put it in the freezer, it stays fresher and lasts much longer.


  20. Jcabe1963 Coshocton, Ohio joined 9/16 & has 4 comments

    Sorry, that is supposed to say bulgogi in my previous post. Thanks auto correct.

  21. Jcabe1963 Coshocton, Ohio joined 9/16 & has 4 comments

    I made this again tonight. I couldn’t get Korean white radish, so I got turnip instead and added some Asian pear. Oh my…so good. I can’t wait to dig into this. I got some nullified marinating in the frig, and some fresh lettuce. Tomorrow night we will be eating some nullified wraps with fresh kimchi, rice, and ginger. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. 감사함니다 칭구!

  22. tdbwong brunei darussalam joined 8/16 & has 1 comment

    Hi maangchi.

    I’ve tried a few of your recipes and it all turned out great. I wanted to make my own kimchi to go with my meals and the stews that i’m going to make in the future, but in your recipe theres shrimp and i’m allergic to it. Can i substitute it with something else?

    • Meisenman Eugene, Oregon joined 9/16 & has 2 comments

      You can just leave it out, and the kimchi will still be very good. I made Maangchi’s other kimchi recipe (the Emergency Kimchi, I think), which didn’t call for shrimp, and my Korean friends—and my friend’s mother, who was visiting from Korea—thought that it was very good. His mother gave me some of her kimchi, and it differed from mine in that it had a richness that I had to ask about. Her recipe included the salted shrimp. Mine was very good; hers was even better.

  23. EGawing Malaysia joined 8/16 & has 1 comment

    Hi PookD

    I usually leave my kimchi overnight to ferment. In where I live, the weather is always humid, one night is all it needs to make them sour. Perhaps you can leave yours out longer and keep tasting them until u are satisfy with the sourness?

    Thanks Maangchi for sharing this great recipe. Ive been making this every 3 weeks for the past few months. My family and friends love them. By the way, in order to save time, I blend the garlic, ginger, onion, shrimp paste & fish sauce in blender before mixing with the rest of the seasoning ingredients for making paste.

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  24. iiSoNiA66 Riverside,California joined 8/16 & has 2 comments

    Wowwy wow!! I’m so happy and glad for the recipe. I’m fairly new to you and your videos but I love how fun you make it!! This was my first time making kimchi and I feel so proud! Thanks Maangchi

  25. lillypilly Australia joined 8/16 & has 1 comment

    Where I live it can be hard to find radish, and when I do they are usually old and flabby. Would turnip make a good substitute, or is there another substitute that would be better, or should I just leave out the radish?

  26. pjen Hanoi, Vietnam joined 8/16 & has 1 comment


    I really enjoyed your video of the traditional kimchi recipe, the instructions are very easy to follow and, you are such a lovely lady!!

    In Vietnam we have this pickled shrimp, can I use it as the substitute for the Korean fermented salted shrimp?

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  27. mmacadang Califronia joined 7/16 & has 1 comment

    Hello Maangchi!

    I want to know if the fermented shrimp can be substituted for something else? Please help! Thanks!

  28. bartninja Brazil joined 7/16 & has 2 comments

    Hi Maangchi!!!!! I’m from Brazil!!!!! I love your recipes!!!!
    I would like to know if I can replace saeujeot in tongbaechu kimchi, because the price of saeujeot in Brazil is absurdly expensive!!!!!!!
    I wonder if maybe one day you could teach us the handmade saeujeot recipe……
    Another question: I didn’t find gochugaru, so I used Gochujangyong gochugaru instead. Did I something stupid?
    Thanks a lot in advance for the tips!

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,045 comments

      Yes, skip saeujeot and use a little more fish sauce or salt. You can use hot pepper powder instead of hot pepper flakes when you make kimchi. Only difference between flakes and powder is how finely they ground.

  29. LawSY Malaysia joined 7/16 & has 2 comments

    This is the second time I made kimchi from your recipe. My family like it very much. Love the kimchi-bokkeumbap too. I make kimchi-bokkeumbap a lot so I must have kimchi ever ready in my fridge. Will try out other recipes of yours. Thank you very much for sharing these wonderful recipes :)

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  30. ferment4health Maple Valley, WA joined 7/16 & has 2 comments

    I meant “above” the liquid, not “about”.

  31. ferment4health Maple Valley, WA joined 7/16 & has 2 comments

    I made this kimchiand let it sit on my counter for two days. I opened the jars to check and found that they were bubbling like crazy and was so tickled! I put them in the fridge only to see that the liquid had subsided and the veggies were about the liquid the next morning. There was no bubbling. I took a jar out of the fridge and put it on the counter. It has been there for two days and there doesn’t appear to be any fermentation taking place. The jars I left in the fridge still have no signs of fermenting. What did I do wrong?

  32. natalievanzyl South Africa joined 7/16 & has 1 comment

    Hi there,

    Your videos are great and I’ve really enjoyed watching them. I am planning to make Kimchi for the first time tomorrow but I wanted to know what other Korean dishes does Kimchi normally accompany? I would like to make a Korean dish and serve Kimichi with it.

    Looking forward to your reply.

    Natalie :)

  33. Vienna Hong Kong joined 7/16 & has 1 comment

    Hello, this is my second time following your recipe to make this delicious kimchi! Everyone love it! I’ve also followed your recipe to make the spicy whelks salad and the crispy crunchy Korean fried chicken, very tasty… better than some of the Korean restaurants in Hong Kong. I will keep learning Korean food from your recipes. Thanks much ^.^

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  34. Mabel sena Ghana joined 6/16 & has 3 comments

    Hi Maangchi,for the egg bread,can make the batter by using a blender?

  35. Asianwaterdrop0422 California joined 6/16 & has 6 comments

    I made this recipe today does it look okay to you? It’s not as red as yours and seems to be getting pretty watery. i haven’t tasted it yet since I’m not a particular fan of kimchi my itself but it smells really fishy. It’s not going to taste really fishy is it?

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