Make Ahead

Mom's Kimchi

March 19, 2017
2 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 6 to 8
Author Notes

This is the very first recipe my mother ever decided to write down for me, and frankly, I'm honored! This recipe could only have been written by a parent who doesn't measure when they make food! (I got quite the kick out of it. Take this recipe however you can, completely made with love.)

My parents, like many, never measured when they were cooking or preparing food. Everything has always been made by tastes from memory, and of course, in continuing the practices of their own kitchens.

However, with more years passing and more measurements made for practicality and good health, my mom adheres to this one recipe for everyday eating and storing in the fridge. —Caroline Choe

What You'll Need
  • 1/2 cup salt water (1/2 tablespoon salt and 1/2 cup water)
  • 1 napa cabbage, rinsed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 medium-size daikon radish, peeled and sliced thinly on a mandoline
  • 2 tablespoons gochugaru (Korean powdered spicy red pepper)
  • 2 tablespoons anchovy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1 cup scallions, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
  1. Sprinkle salt water on the cabbage pieces and continuously turn over cabbage in the salt water to mix thoroughly, then let it sit for about 3 to 4 hours. You have to turn it over from time to time to make sure all the cabbage is mixed with salt water.
  2. Wash out and rinse the salt water from the cabbage. (If cabbage is still too salty after rinsing, keep going until there's less saltiness.)
  3. In a medium glass storage jar, put in the rinsed napa cabbage. With gloved hands, add in the sliced daikon radish, gochugaru, anchovy sauce, chopped garlic, scallion, onion, and ginger and mix together well.
  4. Now kimchi is ready to eat. When it is fresh, it tastes good, but it takes time to be delicious until it is well-done. It does not taste good in the middle. Be patient. You can keep it more than around for about 2 weeks in refrigerator.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

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12 Reviews

Bread &. March 24, 2021
Possibly a stupid question, but once fermented how long does homemade kimchi like this stay edible? With store bought kimchi there's a best by date on the jar, but I assume that's made with a different process than this.
Bread &. March 24, 2021
Whoops I missed that it says 2 weeks in the last sentence of the recipe. I should know better than to comment before I've read every word!
amazinc January 14, 2020
How much napa cabbage should one use. The ones in my market are the size of a major league football. Do I use all of that? Also the daikon radish are the size of half a major league baseball bat. How much of that to use? Either or both these vegetables will almost fill a barrel rather that a "medium" sized jar. I'm going to take a shot and use half of each and double up on the rest of the ingredients but it
would really help to know. Thanks
rocky98502 July 26, 2018
Can someone help: what specifically is "anchovy sauce"?
Hae J. July 27, 2018
This kind of kimchi can have a seafood component that adds umami. "Anchovy sauce" is anchovy chunks preserved in salt that you can find in the Korean supermarket next to the kimchi. You can also use regular fish sauce or salted baby shrimp.
FS July 21, 2018
This is close to the easy kimchi recipes I prefer. Not sure about the chopped onion, but I'll try it. At our house the fresh kimchi is tops for fresh eating - yum! - and the riper stuff is best for cooking. No kimchi ever gets old around here!
Kaity K. May 3, 2018
:)) I like kimchi much. It's delicious and tasty when you eat with gimbab.
Idalu February 17, 2018
Nice easy recipe. I didn’t have radish but added carrots instead. I also subs gochugaru with gochujang and added the salt water in the jar. Delicious.
Hae J. July 23, 2018
Just a note about carrots and vitamin C. Carrots have an enzyme which breaks down vitamin C so the longer your kimchi sits, the less vitamin C it will have. I read this in a kimchi cookbook.
Hae J. February 8, 2018
Yes, generally fresh kimchi tastes good the day it is made. We do not eat it the second or third day. We wait a few days until it starts to taste sour, until it is fermented. That said, you might still like the taste of your kimchi the second or third day, but it would not have all the probiotic benefits of a fully fermented kimchi. Also note that this recipe is for "mak kimchi," a fast fermenting cabbage kimchi. The kind of kimchi that is stored in the ground is "poggi kimchi" where the cabbage is left in large quarters and takes longer to ferment but stays crunchier with long storage than this fast version of cabbage kimchi.
Rosemary B. July 3, 2017
What is meant by "it does not taste good in the middle" ?
Pork N. February 7, 2018
I think it means that the kimchi tastes good when it is fresh and it's delicious when it is well done, but not in the stage in between. However, I can't comment on when well done happens :)