White Kimchi (Baek Kimchi)

June 14, 2021
5 Stars
Photo by Food52
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

Watch This Recipe
White Kimchi (Baek Kimchi)
  • Prep time 12 hours 30 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • makes 1 large jar 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
In This Recipe
  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.

  • markbennett
  • Richard
  • Julia Hutchcroft
    Julia Hutchcroft
  • Ana Crowther
    Ana Crowther

5 Reviews

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!
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.