Inspiration from Meghan

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Easy Kimchi Recipe | Simple Fermentation


Kimchi was the final fermented food that I had been yearning to make, had tried several times, but had yet to find success...until now. I was testing out easy kimchi recipes as I will be introducing some fermented foods into the revised Culinary Nutrition Expert program. I also have a super awesome recipe to share for Kimchi Sushi Rolls and thought I best first work out how to make this elusive traditional Korean delight.

I was at my usual organic grocer, owned by a Korean family. I mentioned needing daikon for my kimchi and the women at the checkout were all excited that I was going to attempt this. I asked what their best tips were. They both giggled and told me their best tip was to buy some already made.

The traditions of traditional foods are being lost by many, while people like me and my friends at Well Preserved and Nourished Kitchen (just two of the many traditional food blogs I love) do our best to uphold a little of the goodness from "the old country" - whatever and whose ever old country that may be. It's important. And when it comes to fermented foods, it's mighty important.

I have written often in the last year about the powerful benefits of fermented foods for our digestive health, immune health, and even brain health (which is directly connected to the health of our gut). But when I go to buy fermented foods, especially kimchi, it's hard to know exactly what's in there. So many kimchi recipes I looked at called for shrimp paste, or korean spice blends. And you know I like to know what I'm eating.

And so, in the last year, I have begun to make all of my own ferments - whether it's coconut kefir, saurkraut, kombucha, and now, I am proud to say, I have succeeded with kimchi.

Kimchi Ingredients

The recipe I used was inspired by this one from my dear friend (whom I've yet to meet but any friend of Joel and Dana's is a friend of mine), Marisa of Food in Jars. I loved her version as it didn't use any pre-made spice blends or pastes.

Kimchi preparation

It used only the super potent, smelly and strong ingredients to set the flavour, including daikon radish, green onion, garlic, ginger and chillies. Shazaam. That is medicinal power, not to mention a gorgeous rainbow of goodness.

Kimchi ingredients in bowl

It took some time to slice, dice and prep, which I did all by hand in the spirit of traditional foods, but I would totally use a food processor next time around. I am all into tradition, but we might as well shake what mama gave us - or use the appliances that make for less work and mess.

Fermented Foods Kimchi

I massaged the bejesus out of this mix until it got soft and juicy. Packed it into a jar, and let it sit for about five days. It started to foam at one point but I just scraped that off and let is sit a few days more until it was soft, fermented and, I gotta say, so delicious!

Easy Kimchi Recipe

And so here is my super easy, almost fool-proof, kimchi recipe. I say almost fool proof as you really can't give any guarantees when it comes to fermentation. Every go around is an experiment. That's just part of the fun.

Easy Kimchi


Prep time: 

Cook time: 

Total time: 

Yield: 6-8 cups

A simple approach to making traditional kimchi

  • 1 head napa cabbage, cored and shredded (makes about 8 cups)
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 1 daikon radish, grated
  • 10 red radishes, grated
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 Tbsp grated ginger
  • 2 Tbsp sea salt
  • 3 Tbsp chilli flakes or 1½ Tbsp chilli powder

Make It Like So
  1. Prep all vegetables as directed in ingredients and place in large bowl. Add salt and chilli flakes. Use a larger bowl than you think you might need, as it lends to better veggie massaging.
  2. Massage cabbage mix for about 10 minutes and then set aside. While resting, the salt will help the veggies to 'sweat', releasing some of their water.
  3. Return to massage for another 10 minutes, until cabbage and other veggies are softened and a few tablespoons worth of water has been released.
  4. Divide the mix between two 1 gallon/1 litre mason jars.
  5. Press kimchi mix down, helping get out any air bubbles and ideally have some of the liquid come to the top.
  6. Seal jar loosely and place in a warm spot (like on top or or beside your fridge). Let sit for 4-5 days. If foam starts to form, you can skim that off. After about 4 days, taste the kimchi (with a clean fork, never double dip) and decide if you want to let it ferment longer or you're ready to enjoy it.
  7. Once ready, seal the jar and store in your fridge. Will keep for 2-3 months sealed.

 What are your favourite fermented foods to make form scratch? Share your resources below!


48 Responses to “Easy Kimchi Recipe | Simple Fermentation”

  1. Terry said… April 19, 2016
    I made this easy receipt for your kimchee and OMG this is better then store bought any day of the week! Thanks, keep up the good work!!!
  2. raegar said… April 30, 2016
    got a lot of liquid and I felt it was a bit too salty. Might try again and alter to my taste.
    • That's interesting. Sometimes I get a lot of liquid and other times, hardly any at all. Every fermentation project is a new adventure.
  3. I use a rolling pin for the massage. I never make the same kimchi twice unless by accident. A plastic bag of water makes an excellent compress.
  4. Laura Thomas said… November 19, 2016
    Tastes great but don't overdo the carrots.
  5. Laura Thomas said… December 20, 2016
    The second time I made this I didn't shred to cabbage -- cut it in about 1" pieces. I also sliced the daikon and carrots. And added chopped red onion. I didn't massage the cabbage bit rather salted it heavily, left it for an hour and then rinsed it. I thought the grated veggies were too indistinguishable so that's why I made them larger on the second go around. Went light on the ginger, garlic and pepper flakes. Might add more after it has fermented. I'll let you know how this version turns out!
  6. Emily said… January 1, 2017
    Made this with a green cabbage (as it was what I had on hand) and it was the best kimchi I've ever had. I'm excited to continue my fermenting quest this year and will be making more batches this week. Thank you!
  7. Lee said… March 28, 2017
    How to let cabbage become soft?
    • Massage the veggies, mix them up and then set them aside for 10 minutes. You can repeat this a few times to make sure they are good to go!
  8. Lisa Herzberger said… June 1, 2017
    Hi Meghan! My daughter is about to graduate from Bastyr University as a nutritionist! She's the one who got me going on Kimchi (She also has Crohn's so diet is critical for her). I have two questions for you..I'm hoping that I can make this in smaller jars since I don't have gallon sized mason jars! and second: when you say "seal" when it's ready, before you store in the fridge, do you mean like in a hot water bath? Like in canning? so that the lid on the jar actually "pops" shut? Or just screw on the lid tightly? It's been a long time since I made any kind of "pickled food" but I think this fermented food is very similar? Thanks very much!
    • Hi Lisa, thanks for your message and congratulations to you daughter! To answer your questions: yes you can definitely make smaller jars, you'll just need more of them, and to seal you just need to screw the lid on tightly once you are ready to store the kimchi after you are done fermenting.
  9. David Medhurst said… June 18, 2017
    Several years ago while teaching English in Korea, I set my class a composition exercise where they had to write out their mothers Kim chi recipe. I ended up with 12 different recipes. The main ingredient in most of them was not cabbage but what they called Welsh Onion. I understood this to be leeks.
    • That's interesting about the onion, David! I'm not surprised to hear that you received so many variations - that tends to be the case with most recipes. Every person or family has their own special mix. And there's definitely something to be said for the extra love that goes into our food when we make it!
  10. Hi there! Has anyone made this without the chili peppers/powder? I like spicy but my kids are still a bit sensitive to the heat and I would love for them to eat it too. Wonder if leaving the peppers out will compromise the flavour too much. Thanks!

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