White Kimchi (Baek Kimchi)

June 14, 2021
4 Ratings
Photo by Food52
  • Prep time 12 hours 30 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • makes 1 large jar kimchi
Test Kitchen Notes

This highly underrated kimchi is actually a precursor to the fiery-red fermented vegetables we know and love—and is filled with all the funk without bringing the heat.

To make this condiment, we'll use crunchy Napa cabbage; sweet carrots, bell peppers, and Asian pear; and zingy aromatics like onion, garlic, ginger, and big strips of scallion. The vegetables ferment for several days in a mixture that can be best described as a rice roux: We cook rice flour, water, and sugar till thick and ribbon-like. It's mixed with our blended aromatics and a good amount of fish sauce to amp up the umami, then gets to work in coating the cabbage. Then, we'll tightly pack the vegetables in a lidded jar and let it go for several days, till it gets to the desired level of funk. The whole process is aided by bubbly lemon or lime seltzer—a trick from Esther's grandmother—which helps the kimchi become even more effervescent and snappy.

When making the kimchi, you'll have some leftover brining liquid—don't even think about throwing it out! It makes a great base for cold noodle soups, salad dressings, dipping sauces, and more. You can also marinate pork chops or chicken thighs in the kimchi brine, then toss it on the grill. —The Editors

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
White Kimchi (Baek Kimchi)
  • 2 heads Napa cabbage, quartered lengthwise
  • 1 cup rock salt or very coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup rice flour (non-glutinous)
  • 1/2 cup cane sugar
  • 1 cup fish sauce (if vegetarian, use vegetarian oyster sauce instead)
  • 1 head garlic, peeled
  • 1 large piece (½ cup) fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1 large Asian pear, peeled, cored, and halved
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and halved
  • 1 cans lemon or lime seltzer
  • 1/2 cup salted baby shrimp (saeujeot)
  • 1 bunch scallions, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup shredded carrot
  • 1 cup julienned red, yellow, or orange bell peppers
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 cup of water and the rock salt. Stir the mixture together until the salt is dissolved. Add the Napa cabbage quarters to the bowl and rub the rock salt mixture on every leaf. Leave the heads of cabbage there for 2 hours, then flip them and leave them there for another 2 hours. Repeat this process 1 to 2 more times, until the cabbage is very tender and limp.
  2. After 8 to 12 hours, squeeze the cabbage and drain the excess water; then rinse the cabbage 2 to 3 times to remove as much of the salt as possible. Repeat the squeezing and draining process so the cabbage is reasonably dry and set aside while you make the sauce.
  3. In a small saucepan not yet set over heat, add the rice flour, cane sugar, and 1 cup of water and mix well to combine. Once mixed, turn on the heat to high and bring to a boil; then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for 20 minutes, whisking constantly, until the liquid is thickened to a ribbon-like consistency and you can see the bottom of the pan while whisking. Set aside to cool.
  4. In a blender, combine the fish sauce, pear, onion, ginger, garlic, and blend until very smooth. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
  5. To this blended mixture, add the seltzer, salted shrimp, rice roux, carrots, and bell peppers, and mix well to combine.
  6. Add the cabbage into the large bowl with the paste, carefully massaging the mixture into the cabbage to coat and fully cover every leaf. I like to add a few of the other vegetables between each cabbage leaf too.
  7. Tightly pack the kimchi into large airtight jars with lids; you can also cover the mixture with a layer of plastic wrap before securing the lids. Allow the kimchi to sit at room temperature for at least 2 days, or longer if you desire a stronger flavor. Then put it in the refrigerator for another 5 days. The kimchi will last for about a month in the fridge.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Spark55
  • Em
  • Neologian
  • markbennett

12 Reviews

Spark55 July 29, 2023
Question: why non-glutinous rice powder in this recipe? Does it make a difference? Other recipes I’ve seen call for Mochiko, which is made from glutinous rice. Just wondering.
Em March 1, 2023
I currently have 2 jars of white kimchi fermenting (I hope) using a recipe from M__chi - my first attempt at kimchi. I’m shook because she found her kimchi ready to go in the fridge at 1.5 days. It’s been 2 days for me & there’s no sign of fermentation. No rice roux in it either. When I used to make sauerkraut I remember it was more than a 1.5 day journey. I bought a yoghurt maker / fermenter & have another batch on the go (spicy kimchi) using the recipe booklet that came with the appliance. That was made with a roux & requires 72hrs on the ferment setting. Anyway I’m definitely making this recipe next time. My current white kimchi has pretty much all of these ingredients except for the rice roux & the seltzer. Coming from Australia- I’ve heard of seltzer but don’t know what our equivalent is, will have to Google. Why is it that white kimchi isn’t chopped before putting in the jar? I put mine in whole too but regretted it. Wondering how I’ll access the kimchi when it’s so tightly packed in there. Does anyone chop there’s before putting in the jar?
Neologian March 2, 2023
Did you go straight to the fridge?? Most ferments, especially this one, benefit from a day or two of fermentation a room temps to get all the bioactivity going. From there you can move things into the fridge to slow that activity down a bit. You are almost certainly okay pulling your jars out of the fridge and tasting them for sourness (indicating those lacto bacteria are actually doing their thing) and even letting them come back to room temp for a day or two just to jumpstart things. In general if you aren't seeing mold everything is fine.....and it may be that refrigerating too soon just slowed down some of the bioactivity.
Em March 3, 2023
I’m an experienced lacto-fermenter (if there’s such a term) :) . I’ve made sauerkraut & goat cheese successfully over the years. Also various vegan cashew cheese & dips. I never go straight to the fridge ever. That only comes after it’s fermented and ready. I recently bought a fermenter/ yoghurt:cheese maker & used it for the first time to make spicy kimchi which was ready to be refrigerated today after 72hrs on the “ferment” setting as instructed. Perfect kimchi, first time using an electric fermenter. With the controlled temp it made me a beautiful big batch of lacto fermented kimchi. My white kimchi (sitting in the kitchen) will need another 7-10 days before I even taste it. I highly recommend the Ambiano fermenter appliance from Aldi. It was AU40. It comes with 2 big glass jars. One for fermenting & the other for storing.
Neologian March 3, 2023
Okay just curious and did not mean to offend. I only asked because the way your original question/statement was written I misconstrued it. I mistakenly read "ready to go in the fridge" as "ready go whilst in the fridge" as opposed to "ready to go INTO the fridge". My mistake.
Since that's not the case....I've never had an issue with room temperature fermentation of Kimchi and have never found it necessary to use a commercial appliance. That said there are several issues that can affect your success ranging across but not limited to: What is your "room temperature". The speed of my countertop ferments can vary between winter and summer. The other big one is the saltiness you settled on before rinsing the cabbage. To me this is one of the biggest subjective variables in this recipe and low salt content can slow your ferment.
Neologian November 27, 2022
Absolute BEST white kimchi recipe out there and I've tried more than a few online and from dedicated kimchi cookbooks. Other's have noted a "rice flour coating" which I take to mean a certain cloudiness in the kimchi when you first place it in the fermentation vessel. In my experience, as the fermentation proceeds the veggies release a little more water and the "cloudiness" ultimately settles to the bottom leaving 99% of the veggies to ferment in an only slightly cloudy liquid. That said, it's all yummy, including the cloudy liquid at the bottom which I'll often use to flavor any kind of Asian hot/sour soup.
I've tried a couple variations on this recipe because I love a good "ginger punch" in mine and so I've settled on subbing in ginger beer for the soda and I like to "pickle" my ginger in rice vinegar for a couple days before adding it to this recipe. (Just thin sliced fresh ginger topped with rice vinegar does the trick.) This amps up the overall ginger punch which I really like.
It's fantastic on everything of course but it's particularly good with Dolsot Bibimbap where the gochujang provides plenty of spice 'heat' making up for the lack of it in the white kimchi. I also LOVE it for breakfast when placed over a small portion of steamed rice then topped by an egg or two that's been scrambled in sesame oil & chili flakes. To die for!!
I keep a perpetual batch in the fridge and it sorta just gets better over time. (Though guests are often curious about the "science experiment" I have going next to the orange juice LOL!!
markbennett April 19, 2022
Hi - I'm three days in and it smells and tastes great, but there is a bit of a rice flour coating, which is a bit odd and different from other white kimchis I've had. Will this go away over time or do I need to add more water? Thanks!
Neologian March 3, 2023
In the batches I've made that cloudiness never goes away completely but it does settle a bit. My jar goes clear when left undisturbed in the fridge but of course gets a little opaque cloudy when I agitate things by spooning the kimchi from the jar. I find it more noticeable in the jar than it is on the plate though and I simply regard it the same way I do unfiltered Sake. :-)
Richard September 2, 2021
Same here. Had to up the water rice flour ratio.
Richard June 14, 2021
Made this and it was awesome. Added daikon too. For some reason I had to add at least 3-4 cups of water to the rice flour to get to the right consistency. Otherwise, it was spot on.
Julia H. May 13, 2021
Yes, please - recipes with the white kimchi, please.
Ana C. May 12, 2021
Thank you so much for this recipe. I would love to see recipes using this White Kimchi. Loved your demonstration.