How To Make Kimchi Even If You Aren’t Asian – Easy Korean Fermented Cabbage Recipe

How To Make Kimchi Even If You Aren't Asian - Easy Korean Fermented Cabbage Recipe

It’s taken me a year to locate some napa cabbage. Crazy, right? But I’ve finally managed and I’ve filmed that highly requested kimchi recipe for you. If you have no idea what kimchi is, it’s sort of like a Korean version of sauerkraut, but it’s very, very different.

The taste might require some getting used to, but don’t let it scare you. Kimchi is a true nutritional powerhouse: it helps your stomach produce more stomach acid, improves digestion, provides you with more digestive enzymes and good bugs for the gut, as well as clear up your skin.

This recipe is very easy and the ingredients are easy to find, so you should be able to make it wherever you are in the world. There are tons of variations around and this one is mine!

Ingredients for Kimchi:

  • 1. 3kg (2.5 lbs) Napa cabbage (also called Chinese cabbage)
  • 6 green onions
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 10 radishes (you can also replace regular radishes with Daikon radish)
  • 4 garlic cloves (if you don’t like garlic much, feel free to reduce)
  • 1-2 inch piece of ginger (around 1 tbsp), but feel free to reduce it as well if you aren’t a big fan of lots of ginger.
  • 2 Tbsp fine sea salt or Himalaya salt
  • 2 chillies or 1 tbsp chilli powder
  • 2.5 tbsp fish sauce (optional if you want to make it vegetarian or vegan)
  • a large mixing bowl to fit all of the ingredients.

You’ll also need a 2 litre jar (just over 2 quarts). If you have a slightly bigger one, it will be even better. Mine was overflowing and made a bit of a mess while fermenting, so if you have one that will leave a bit of room at the top, that’s perfect!


  • Chop the cabbage in chunks or thick slices. Traditional kimchi recipes often have large chunks of cabbage but I prefer them smaller because they’re easier to work with and softer when ready to eat.
  • Chop the green onions, both the white and the green parts. Grate the carrots and radishes.
  • Add the salt and mix all the ingredients to make sure the salt is distributed evenly.
  • Now just leave it alone for a couple of hours. This will soften it up and will get the juices flowing, so there will be much less work later. Traditional methods often involve soaking the vegetables in very salty water for a few hours and then rinsing all the salt out, but I find it much more time consuming.
  • While the cabbage is getting ready, it’s time to start preparing the spicy seasoning. There are tons of variations for it but this is the one I personally like. You’ll need to blend the grated ginger, garlic cloves, chillies, and fish sauce in a blender or you can simply use an old fashioned pestle and mortar like I always do.
  • Once the two hours are up, massage the vegetables for a few minutes until there is plenty of juice in the bowl.
  • Pour the spicy seasoning over the vegetables and mix with a spoon. If you have gloves suitable for food handling, you can use yours hands, but please don’t mix it with your bare hands. I did it once and the skin under my nails burned for a week! 🙂
  • Transfer all the vegetables to a sterilised jar and keep pressing with a spoon as you go to make sure everything is compacted well. Once you reach the top, press everything down once again. There should be a good layer of juice at the top. Make sure there is some space between the top of the vegetables and the top of the jar because it will rise a bit while fermenting (and it might overflow).
  • Cover the jar with a paper towel and an elastic or simply place the lid on top without tightening it, and ferment for 3-5 days. Keep pressing it down with a spoon a few times a day and keep tasting it. When it tastes sour enough for you, it’s ready! You can tighten the lid, place it in the fridge and store it for up to a few months. You can start eating it whenever you want.
  • Enjoy!

And here’s a video recipe of kimchi:

If you aren’t a big fan of the taste or smell straight away, be patient. Give it some time and it will grow on you. It’s definitely an acquired taste for people in the West. But the health benefits of kimchi are enormous, so it’s all worth it.

If you’d like to learn how to make regular Eastern European sauerkraut as well, here’s the recipe.

If you try the recipe, I’d love to know how it came out!

Simply yours,
Vita xx

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