Chile Pepper

Mak Kimchi

January  9, 2013
Photo by Sara Remington
Author Notes

In this recipe for Mak Kimchi, “Mak” which means simple, common or everyday in Korean, features a quick dry salt brine that calls for just enough salt to initiate fermentation and season the vegetables. A light rinse ensures that a balance of sweetness and salinity of the cabbage is achieved. Within three days of fermentation, you’ll have a homemade batch of crunchy, spicy and tangy kimchi whose flavors will develop in complexity as it continues to age. —Lauryn Chun

  • Makes 1 jar
  • 1 head (1.5 to 2 pounds) napa cabbage or green cabbage, cut into 2-by-1-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons Kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon peeled, finely grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Korean chile pepper flakes (gochugaru)
  • 4 green onions, green parts only, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup yellow onion, thinly sliced
In This Recipe
  1. In a large bowl, combine the cabbage with the salt and set aside for about 50 minutes. Drain the liquid and very lightly rinse the cabbage just enough to remove any traces of salt. Drain the cabbage completely in a colander for about 10-15 minutes.
  2. Mix garlic, ginger, fish sauce, and sugar until a paste forms. Mix in the chile pepper flakes and let the paste combine for 15 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together the green onions, yellow onions, the seasoning paste, and the cabbage until combined thoroughly making sure the seasoning paste is distributed evenly. Pack the mixture tightly into a quart size glass container pressing down as you fill the container. Add 1/4 cup water to the mixing bowl, and swirl the water around to collect the remaining seasoning paste. Add the water to the container, cover tightly, and set aside for 3 days at room temperature. The cabbage will expand as it ferments, so be sure to place the jar on a plate or in a bowl to catch the overflow. Refrigerate and consume within 6 months to a year. Tip: You can check the fermentation by opening the lid; you should see some bubbling juices and taste the tanginess of the freshly pickled cabbage. It will keep fermenting slowly in the jar for up to 6 months. The flavor will evolve and change with time—and a steady cold temperature will ensure an even, slow fermentation.

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I am the founder of Mother-in-Law's Kimchi, a line of artisan kimchi based on an original recipe from Jang Mo Jip ("Mother-in-Law's Kimchi"), my mother's beloved restaurant in Garden Grove, California. From my mother's kitchen to working in the fine dining and wine industries, my deep love for food and wine led me from the Rhone Valley and Spain to Italy's hills, where I worked harvesting grapes. While living in New York City, I recognized the beauty of Korea's tradition of handcrafted kimchi, which inspired me to launch Mother-in-Law's Kimchi in 2009