This easy-to-prepare kimchi recipe tastes amazing, with a flavor that develops as it ages. Learn how to make homemade kimchi with this easy tutorial that includes step-by-step photos!
If you’ve never tasted kimchi, a classic Korean recipe, I can understand why it might not sound very appealing. Vegetables and seasonings are salted and then buried underground where they ferment. However, it’s actually very tasty, and can be enjoyed on its own or as an accompaniment to serve alongside other dishes.
There are countless varieties of kimchi, and the recipe I’m sharing uses two of the most common ingredients: Napa cabbage and daikon radish. Don’t worry; my version is not buried in the backyard.
If you like DIY pantry staples, you’re going to love this kimchi recipe!
A few of these ingredients, such as Napa cabbage, daikon radish and Gochugaru, might be difficult to locate depending on where you live. The easiest place to find them is at an Asian grocery store, if you live near one. Gochugaru can also be purchased online.
If you’re unable to find the Napa cabbage or daikon, I recommend substituting any large green cabbage and skipping the radish entirely. Daikon (shown below) has a mild flavor compared with other radish varieties, which can be very bitter. Another option would be to substitute jicama, which has a similar texture and no conflicting flavors.
Make sure to use a large bowl that will fit everything. I have a set of metal nesting bowls, and I needed to use the largest bowl to fit all of the cabbage.
The ingredient list for this recipe offers a large quantity range for Gochugaru: 2 to 5 tablespoons. You don’t need a large amount to season the kimchi, but adding more will increase the heat level of the chili paste. Use less if you have a low tolerance for spice (you could even go as low as 1 tablespoon).
When it’s time to combine all of the ingredients, I recommend doing this with your hands. That’s the best way to ensure that everything is fully incorporates. This is a potent mix, so I also recommend using kitchen-safe gloves so your hands don’t smell for the rest of the day.
You want to pack the kimchi tightly in a glass jar to encourage the fermentation. Liquid will begin seeping from the vegetables, and this becomes a brine. Pushing the vegetables down once per day will redistribute the brine so the vegetables ferment equally.
After one week, the kimchi will be ready to eat. However, the flavors will continue to develop over the next 1-2 weeks.
Does Kimchi Go Bad?
Technically, if kimchi is stored properly, it won’t go bad, but it will ripen over time. Once this happens, the flavor becomes more sour. The cabbage will eventually lose its pleasant crunch. However, that doesn’t mean it’s no longer safe to consume. If the kimchi is too sour and/or soft to enjoy, you might be happier starting over with a new batch.
While kimchi doesn’t usually spoil, it’s not impossible if bacteria gets in the jar. If there’s visible mold in the jar or it smells off, get rid of it. To help prevent spoiling, use clean utensils every time you remove some from the jar.
How To Use Kimchi
This article from Plated offers many ways to enjoy kimchi. Some of my personal favorites include:
- Serving in fried rice or a rice bowl with your favorite ingredients (think white rice, veggies, toasted sesame oil, etc)
- Adding to scrambled eggs
- As a topping over Korean-inspired tacos (yes, that’s a thing!)
Green Onions vs. Scallions
This recipe calls for scallions. Wondering about the difference between scallions and green onions? Read scallions vs. green onions to learn more!
More Side Dish Recipes
- 2 pounds Napa cabbage, sliced into 2-inch strips (about 1 medium head)
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- 2-5 tablespoons Gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes)
- 4 medium cloves garlic, grated or minced
- 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated or minced
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 8 ounces daikon radish, peeled and sliced into 2-inch matchsticks
- 4 scallions sliced into 1-inch pieces
- In a very large bowl, combine the sliced Napa cabbage and salt, tossing to combine and then massaging the cabbage for a couple minutes.
- Fill the bowl with cold water, completely submerging the cabbage. Cover with plastic wrap and leave sitting at room temperature for 3 hours (it can also be left overnight). Drain the cabbage through a colander, then rinse it thoroughly. Allow the cabbage to dry. Wash the bowl to remove any excess salt.
- In a small bowl, combine the Gochugaru, garlic, ginger, fish sauce, and sugar, stirring to form a paste. The more Gochugaru you add, the hotter the kimchi will be.
- Return the cabbage to the large bowl. Add the chili paste, radish, and scallions, combining until evenly mixed. I recommend wearing kitchen-safe gloves and doing this step by hand.
- Pack the kimchi into two 1-quart jars (or one 2-quart jar), pressing the mix down tightly. A brine should begin rising to the surface as you press the ingredients. If it doesn't, wait a few minutes and then continue packing the mixture into the jars (the vegetables will begin releasing their liquid). Leave 1 to 2 inches of space at the top of the jar.
- Close the lid and then rest at room temperature for one week. Place a plate or bowl under the jar incase any liquid seeps out during the fermentation process. Once per day, push down on the kimchi with kitchen tongs or a spoon to help the brine coat the vegetables.
- Once fermentation is complete, transfer the jar to the refrigerator. The flavors will continue to develop over time. While it can be enjoyed right away, it will taste better after another 1-2 weeks.
- Store in the refrigerator for several months, until it becomes overly sour and/or loses its crunch.
Please read my full post for additional recipe notes, tips, and serving suggestions!
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