Traditional Kimchi
Prep time: 
Fermentation time: 
Yield: 2 quarts/liters
  • 3 lbs/1.5 kg (1 medium to large head) Napa or green cabbage
  • 1 lb./ 500g Korean or daikon radish (about one medium Korean radish or one 12 inch/50 cm length daikon)
  • 2 quarts/liters filtered water
  • 6 Tbsp./120 grams/90 ml fine sea salt or kosher salt
  • 5 organic scallions (green onions), about 100g/3.5 oz. by weight
  • 4-5 cloves organic garlic, about 20g peeled
  • 1 (2-inch/13cm) piece organic ginger root, about 15g peeled
  • ¼ to ½ cup /60-125 ml dried red pepper powder (kochukaru)
  • 1 Tbsp./15 ml fish sauce with no preservatives (omit if vegan)
  • 1 Tbsp./15 ml tamari (gluten-free) or soy sauce
Soak Vegetables
  1. Stir salt into water until it dissolves.
  2. Remove any “floppy” outer leaves from the cabbage (Compost or reserve for another use.) Chop the cabbage into 1-inch chunks/strips. Slice the core very thinly. (Some discard the core; I include it to give the kimchi a varied texture).
  3. Peel and cut stems off radish. Cut into ¼"/ 6mm thick and about 1-inch diameter slices using a mandoline, V-slicer, or knife.
  4. Add cabbage and radish pieces to the brine in a large container or mixing bowl. Cover with a something to weigh the veggies down (I use a glass wine bottle filled with water in a one-gallon glass container) so that the contents stay under the brine.
  5. Brine for 30 minutes to 2 hours.
  6. Drain the veggies through a colander, reserving one pint/ 500ml of the brine.
Prepare Spice Paste
    With a Food Processor
    1. Chop the scallions (using both the green and white part) into ½" /13mm slices. Add to the mixing bowl of a food processor.
    2. Peel and roughly chop the garlic and peel and slice the ginger. Add to mixing bowl.
    3. Add pepper powder, soy sauce and fish sauce to mixing bowl. Vegan variation: omit fish sauce.
    4. Run food processor until ingredients are all incorporated and a thick paste forms. It will be finished when it "rolls" over in a donut shape in the bowl of the food processor.
    5. You can adjust by adding more tamari/soy sauce if it needs to be wetter, or more pepper powder if it needs to thicken up.
    Paste By hand
    1. Chop the scallions (use green and white part) into ⅛"/ 3mm slices.
    2. Add to a small mixing bowl.
    3. Peel and grate the ginger, and mince the garlic into a fine dice, and add to bowl.
    4. Add pepper powder, soy sauce and fish sauce to mixing bowl. Vegan variation: omit fish sauce.
    5. Stir and mash contents (or pulse with food processor) together until a paste forms.
    6. You can adjust by adding more tamari sauce if it needs to be wetter, or more pepper powder if it needs to thicken up.
    Pack Jar or Crock
    1. Now the fun part! Wear a latex or plastic glove to protect yourself from the heat of the paste and keep your hands from smelling like garlic and fish sauce.
    2. You can mix the veggies and paste together in a separate large mixing bowl or directly in the fermenting container. Mix the paste and veggies thoroughly with your hands, coating each morsel.
    1. Pack mixture tightly into a glass or ceramic vessel. Ensure that the top surface is even and flat (discourages surface mold from forming).
    2. If using a small batch fermentation lid, add weight(s) to the jar, then apply fermentation lid.
    3. If using a crock or wide-mouth vessel, add a plastic lid or plate on top of the contents, and a weight to press down and keep contents under the brine. It may not seem very "briny" when you first pack it, but brine will continue to form once the veggies are pressed down. Secure with a cloth and rubber band to keep flies out.
    4. Check after one day; the contents should have formed a brine. If the veggies are not completely submerged, top it off with some of the reserved brine.
    5. Store in an out-of-the-way spot in your kitchen or house for 5 days. Note: Your house will smell like kimchi.
    6. After 5 days, start to check on the kimchi daily by tasting it. If it still needs more time to develop, let it ferment another day or two. (Fermentation varies by location and time of year. 9 days is perfect in the mild southern California coastal climate where I live for most of the year.)
    7. Once you like the taste and texture, transfer it into mason jars (or remove fermentation lid and replace with the standard mason jar lid) and store in fridge (or swap with your local club members!)
    8. Many prefer to "age" kimchi in the refrigerator after fermenting at room temperature. The taste will continue to develop (although very slowly).
    9. Kimchi will keep in the refrigerator for many months.
    Recipe by Fermenters Club at