Pumpkin Kimchi

Pumpkins and other squashes abound in autumn. It’s easy to make a spicy kimchi (“hobak” 호박김치) with raw flesh of these gourds.

Recently when I was dispatching my annual pumpkin to roast for pies and soup, I held aside some pumpkin flesh to try making kimchi with it. It turned out great! Note: I have not nor would I try this recipe with pureed canned pumpkin!

Look for fleshy pumpkin varieties like Cinderella, Long Island Cheese or musque de provence (aka fairytale) as opposed to the “carving” jack-o-lantern style, which are grown for their relative light weight and thin skin. Fleshier varieties will be more cylindrical-shaped and much heavier than carving pumpkins.

I mix cabbage and/or radish in too to balance the flavor and texture.

Pumpkin Kimchi
Prep time
Fermentation time
Yield: 2 pints
  • 1 lb./500g raw pumpkin flesh (Do not attempt with canned pumpkin!)
  • 1 medium head 2-3 lb./1kg Napa (Chinese) or green cabbage
  • 3-4 scallions
  • 3-5" piece fresh ginger
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, peeled (about 30g by weight)
  • 1 ounce/ 30 ml dried red pepper powder
  • 1 fl oz./ 30ml tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 fl oz./ 30ml fish sauce
  • filtered water
  • sea salt
Soak Vegetables
  1. Dissolve salt into room temperature or warm water (in the ratio of 3 tablespoons/45mL fine grain sea salt to one quart/liter of water) and add to a large (one-gallon or larger) mixing bowl or other container. Stir until salt dissolves.
  2. Remove any fibrous or 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 finished kimchi a varied texture).
  3. Add cabbage pieces to the brine.
  4. Peel pumpkin skin. Cut into pieces about ¼ inch thick (a mandoline or v-slicer is handy for this; otherwise use a chef knife) and 1 inch square.
  5. Add pumpkin slices to the brine.
  6. Cover veggies with a plastic lid or inverted plate to weigh down (I use a wine bottle filled with water) so that the contents stay under the brine. Leave for 2 hours.
  7. Drain (but do not rinse) the veggies through a colander, reserving about 8 ounces/250ml of the brine.
Prepare spice paste
  1. Peel ginger (using a spoon) and roughly chop. Add to bowl of a food processor. If not using food processor, mince the ginger and add to a bowl.
  2. Peel and grate the garlic and roughly chop. Add to bowl of a food processor. If not using food processor, mince garlic and add to a bowl.
  3. Chop 2 of the scallions into ¼" slices. Add to food processor. If not using food processor, slice into thinner (1/16") strips and add to bowl.
  4. Chop the remaining scallions into 1-inch pieces.
  5. Add pepper powder, 1 ounce tamari and 1 oz. fish sauce to mixing bowl. Vegan variation: omit fish sauce and use 2 ounces tamari.
  6. Stir and mash contents (or pulse with food processor) together until a paste forms. Add more tamari and fish sauce as needed or desired until you achieve a paste with a chunky tomato paste consistency-- not too dry, not too runny.
Pack Jar or Crock
  1. Wearing a latex or plastic glove to protect yourself from the heat of the peppers, Mix paste thoroughly with your hands into the drained vegetables and the other half of the scallions. You can mix everything directly in the fermenting container, or in a separate large mixing bowl. Mix until the veggies are coated nicely with the paste.
  2. Pack the jar (a wide mouth quart- or half-gallon size) with the vegetables.
  1. If using a small batch fermentation lid, add weight(s) to the jar, then apply fermentation lid.
  2. Cover with a plastic lid or plate, and weigh down so that the contents stay under the brine.
  3. If using smaller (quart) jars, find a small glass jar (filled with water) that closely fits inside the diameter of the jar. No need to insert a plate or lid if using smaller jars.
  4. Cover jar(s) with a cloth and rubber band to keep flies out.
  5. If after one day, the contents are not completely submerged, top it off with some of the reserved brine.
  6. Store in a warmest spot in your kitchen for 6 days. Note: Your house will smell like kimchi.
  7. Secure with lid and transfer to refrigerator, where it will keep for up to 4 months.


2 thoughts on “Pumpkin Kimchi

  1. Peggy Reply

    I can’t wait to make this! FYI your tamari sauce link goes to your fish sauce recipe.

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