How to Make Kimchi

cabblage-kimchi-recipe

I. LOVE. KIMCHI. I love it on rice, in tacos (and just for the record, I did this before Kogi even!), I love it with seaweed, rice and spam (okay, don’t roll your eyes….it’s GOOD!), in soups (Kimchi Jigae) and to spice up midnight instant noodles. But I’ve never made kimchi myself before, which is why i asked Amy Kim of Kimchi Mom to help me out and teach you all how to make kimchi! She’s even made a little video to show you. ~jaden

***

I’m Amy Kim of Kimchi Mom, and my blog is a collection of stories and family recipes from my kitchen. As a kid, I watched my mom cook Korean food everyday but never paid attention to any of it even when she tried to teach me (ah, those teen years). But I do remember being at the dinner table every night at 5 o’clock and having totally consumed dinner 20 minutes later. Yes, it was that good! Fast forward to a couple of years ago. My parents stayed with us for several months to help when my second child was born. And by “help”, she cooked! The dishes she made were flavorful, easy to make, and most importantly, voraciously devoured by my toddler son! I was intent on learning how to make these dishes and Kimchi Mom was born!

I am still a newbie when it comes to making kimchi. Growing up, I watched my mom make green cabbage kimchi every couple of months, and as with every dish she ever made, no measuring implements were used. I had always wanted to make a batch from scratch, and so I called my mom last summer and asked her to measure all the ingredients the next time she made her own batch of kimchi.  I was surprised at how easy it was to assemble everything, but it certainly took a few tries to get the desirable flavors. As for my mom, her recipes have evolved over the past 40 or so years as various ingredients were made more accessible and also because, well, she likes to experiment. So this recipe for mak kimchi is her latest, and I think one of her best kimchi recipes.

There are essentially two types of cabbage kimchipoggi kimchi and mak kimchiPoggi kimchi is nappa cabbage kimchi where the cabbage is seasoned whole and sliced when ready to be eaten. Its presentation is “prettier” when served in tidy little stacks, and it lasts longer than mak kimchi mostly because of the way it is packed and stored in the jar. Mak kimchi is the more “casual” counterpart to poggi kimchi. The cabbage is cut into slices before it’s seasoned. It’s much easier to make – everything is thrown in together versus carefully layering the seasoning and cabbage leaves – and the presentation is certainly not as formal as poggi kimchi .

The recipe detailed below is a variation on my green cabbage kimchi recipe. The components for the sauce are essentially the same, but instead of the rice purée (my grandmother’s touch), I used sweet rice flour paste. Although my kimchi-making experience is limited, I believe this paste has made ALL the difference. The resulting kimchi juice is smooth, balanced, and luscious. I could drink this red elixir. Oh yes I could! I also found that this glutinous component has made a marked difference in my kimchi jigae and kimchi fried rice.

I also made a video on how to make mak kimchi, and you’ll see how easy it is. I now make my own kimchi at least once every couple of months! Every time I’ve made kimchi, it comes out slightly different each time, so it’s critical to adjust the seasoning of the sauce before incorporating everything together. Enjoy the video!

How to make kimchi – recipe video

 

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Mak Kimchi Recipe

Servings: Yields about a gallon Prep Time: Cook Time:
cabblage-kimchi-recipe

Mak Kimchi Recipe by Amy Kim of Kimchi Mom.

Ingredients:

7 lbs. of napa cabbage
about 1/3 cup kosher salt
1 cup sweet rice flour (Mochiko is a popular brand)
2 cups water
3/4 cup red pepper flakes, medium coarseness
1/4 cup chopped saewoo jjut (salted shrimp)
3 tablespoons fish sauce
A scant 1/2 cup sugar
5-7 green onion stalks, chopped
2 oz. ginger (2-inch long, 1-inch diameter piece), minced
8-9 medium garlic cloves, minced
3 medium carrots, julienned
1 medium-sized daikon or 1 small mu (Korean radish), thinly sliced in 2-inch sections
water

Directions:

Preparing the sweet rice flour paste:

Whisk together the sweet rice flour and water in a small saucepan. Keep whisking the mixture until bubbles form on the surface. Once this occurs, take the saucepan off the heat and set aside to cool.

Preparing the cabbage:

Discard any wilted or discolored leaves. Starting at the base of the stem, cut the cabbage about one-third of the way down. Then pull apart the cabbage halves to completely separate them. Do the same with the halved portions - cut and pull apart. Repeat for all the cabbage heads. At this point, you can give the quarters a quick rinse under running water and shake off any excess water.

Trim the core at a diagonal. Cut the quarters into 2-inch wide pieces and place in an oversized bowl (I used a 12 qt. bowl) or use a couple of large bowls. Sprinkle generously with salt. Alternate layers of cabbage and salt. Once all the cabbage is cut, give the cabbage a toss and sprinkle more salt on top. Place a weight on top of the cabbage. Two dinner plates works well for me.

Let the salted cabbage sit for at least 3 hours. Don't worry if you go over (in the video, I let mine sit overnight since I couldn't tend to it at 3 hours). After 1 hour, give the cabbage another toss.

Preparing the sauce:

While the cabbage is close to being ready, prepare the red pepper sauce. In a medium bowl, mix kochukaru (red pepper flakes), water, saewoo jjut, fish sauce, green onions, sugar, ginger, garlic, rice flour paste, and about a 1/2 cup water. Mix thoroughly. Taste. It should be balanced – not too salty, not too fishy, not to spicy and not too sweet. Adjust seasonings at this point. The consistently should be akin to very thick batter. Add a bit more water if necessary. Mix in carrots and radish. Set aside.

Once the cabbage is ready (the volume of the cabbage should have decreased, and it should be a bit wilted), rinse the cabbage under cold running water and let drain in a colander. Once drained, place the cabbage in a large bowl.

At this point you may want to put clean plastic gloves on especially if you have sensitive skin. Add the sauce to the cabbage. Thoroughly mix the sauce and cabbage and make sure every piece of cabbage is coated with the red pepper sauce. Taste. If it needs more salt, add a bit of fish sauce. But you don’t want it to be too salty.

Transfer the cabbage mixture into a large glass jar. Press down on the cabbage as you are filling the jar. Leave about 1-inch of space from the top.

Don’t throw the empty bowl in the sink just yet. Pour in about 1 cup of water into the bowl. Add about a teaspoon of salt to start, and stir. Swirl the water around to make sure you get all the remaining pepper mixture. Taste. Again, you don’t want it too salty – just a hint of salt. Fill the jar with the water until it barely covers the cabbage.

Press down on the cabbage again and make sure the liquid has made its way throughout the jar. Close the lid tightly.

Leave the jars at room temperature** for about a day away from direct sunlight. I leave mine out for about 24-30 hours. This is when the magic happens. You may want to place the jar in a shallow bowl or plate in case there is leakage.

After those 24 or so excruciating hours, sample the kimchi. There should be a slight tang. At this point it is ready to be refrigerated. You can eat the kimchi right away, but I prefer to wait at least a week to indulge. The kimchi will continue to ferment at a much slower pace in the refrigerator and will keep for about 4 weeks. The kimchi will turn really sour at this point and if you have any left in the jar, it will be perfect for jigae, fried rice, ramen or jun.

**What is “room temperature”? Wikipedia says it’s the temperature indicated by general human comfort, about 68°F to 77°F.

Comments 44

  1. Allyn

    I vividly remember making kimchi in freshman Biology class in high school when we were studying fermentation. My teacher was Korean, and made kimchi on a regular basis at home. Once our batch was ready to be eaten, I was the ONLY one willing to try it. I would have eaten the whole jar if I could have. Ah, the joys of being raised by hippies and attending a private prep school.

  2. Michelle

    PERFECT! I have been hankering to make kimchi for a long time. I love the stuff and have to drive several hours to get a brand I like (I live in the middle of no where). Thank you so much for the detailed instructions and video, I can’t wait to try this!

  3. Chris

    Thank you, I can’t wait to make some this weekend
    I was just checking the many differant ones in the market
    too many to choose from, but this will be MINE :-)

  4. Yuri

    My family makes napa cabbage tsukemono and now they’re making a hybrid of tsukemono-kimchi. I will share this recipe with them, I’m sure they’ll love it!

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  6. Amy Kim

    Although I don’t have to drive several hours, I still do not want to make the 40 minute drive with two toddlers! So much easier to make at home and definitely more gratifying!

    1. Joshina

      I had follow the step that you teach but after taste is powdery. Is it I need to add more water or maybe because the rice flour powder was too much?

  7. Amy Kim

    Glad I could conjure up some good memories for you. Sounds like my kind of school! You should try this fermentation “experiment” again!

    -Amy

  8. J Kwon

    Love KimchiMom! Glad that you have her featured…will be making this kimchi recipe soon!

  9. cindy

    delicious! i learned how to make it from my mom too. I think everyone thinks their mom’s kimchi is the best :) i can’t wait to try your rice flour paste technique!

  10. razzle

    What is the saewoo jjut (salted shrimp)? Is that the really small dried shrimp that they sell in Asian markets? Umm…is it critical for the recipe or can I leave it out? I’m not sure I can find it. :(

    I don’t have kosher salt. How much regular table salt can I sub?

  11. Natalie S.

    Would you believe me if I told you that I recently (as in, this weekend) bought napa cabbage, daikon, green onions, and glass jars, hoping I would stumble upon a good, authentic kimchi recipe?! Thank you, thank you, thank you! This looks delicious and incredible. Can’t wait to make it.

  12. Amy Kim

    Saewoo jjut isn’t the dried shrimp, but it is shrimp in a brine. I show what it looks like in another video (http://www.kimchimom.com/2011/02/i-love-eggs/). It is not critical to include saewoo jjut in the recipe. You can substitute fish sauce in place of the shrimp. i would start off with about a total of 1/4 cup fish sauce. Once the sauce is mixed together, taste and adjust the seasoning. Add about a tablespoon of fish sauce to get the desired flavor.

    As for the salt conversion, I would use about 1/4 cup.

    Good luck!

    -Amy

  13. Anh

    Your kimchi recipe looks looks awesome! I’ve just finished “salting” some cabbage. One question though, do we have to prepare the sweet rice flour 1 day ahead and leave it at room temperature? Thank you!

  14. Amy Kim

    Hi Anh – the sweet rice flour paste is not made a day ahead. It can be made before you mix all the ingredients for the sauce. Just make sure you leave enough time to let it cool before incorporating it with the rest of the ingredients. Thanks.

  15. dhanes420

    Yeah! Too many recipes for KimChee without the rice-flour base out there.

  16. razzle

    Thank you. We just went out to a new Korean BBQ in Southern Cali and they had kimchi on the menu. It was the first time I’ve tried Kimchi and I am sooo hooked. I think I’ve seen the shrimp in the brine in a vietamese supermarket, I’m not sure. To be on the safe side, I’ll just visit the Korean H supermarket and ask to make sure I get the correct shrimp :) I’m going to have my own Korean BBQ (without the expensive tab) Yea!

  17. Amy Kim

    Hey razzle – HMart will definitely have the salted shrimp. And I second the “yay for kimchi”!!

  18. Anh

    The kimchi turns out beautifully! Thank you!

    I have to make some more this weekend. It’s that good!

  19. Amy Kim

    Hi Anh – That’s great! I’m glad it worked out for you. I need to make some this weekend also! :-)

  20. Jee

    Ahhh… Kimchi.
    I’m Korean and of course I’ve been spoiled by my mom’s BEST.KIMCHI.ON.EARTH. (Although I think every korean kid would think that of their mom’s kimchi lol)
    So I’ve been living on my own in the states where I have been living off of store bought kimchi and haven’t dared to try making it on my own – too complicated and afraid that it’ll suck. lol
    Now I may try my hand at it. YAY!!
    Thanks for this great post and I’ll look forward to different variations of kimchi recipes – no pressure ;)
    and Jaden – I totally back you up on the spam and kimchi thing – they ROCK together!! try making fried rice with kimchi and cubed spam – DELICIOUS!!

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  22. mai

    I want to try kimchi. But,i’m a muslim. so some ingredients i cannot eat. : (

  23. Sommer J

    Can not wait to try this, Amy! I just recently tried kimchi for the first time at a Korean restaurant in my city. AMAZING! And thank you for providing a link for Korean Markets here in Germany! I am so excited to give this a try!!!

  24. Jamie

    This looks like a good recipe. I have been making David Chang’s recipe which I like. I think you are definitely right about not putting it in the refrigerator for at least the first 24 hours. If you do, it never really gets enough kick to it.
    Happy New Year!

  25. cathie

    do you have any recommendations for what i can do if i can’t get my hands on an actual jar of salted shrimp? there is a small asian market in town that i plan to make a trip to in a few days but i don’t know if she carries them and i’d like to have a few options on hand just in case! i had a semi-laughable hair brained idea of buying a little tin of the mini shrimp that’s by the tuna fish at the grocery store, mashing them up a little bit and adding some salt but since i have no idea what salted shrimp is supposed to taste like (aside from salty shrimp!) i didn’t go through with it! i always prefer to get as close to the recipe as i can get before i starting messing around with it so i know how it was meant to be! thanks!

  26. Kimchi Green

    In a few months we will be selling our Kimchi on-line for those of you who aren’t as adventuresome as some to actually take on the crazy task of making it yourself. Mrs. Kim has been making delicious Kimchi all her life and my brother and I thought we’d share our joy with Americans. Her brand will be called Kimchi Green. Follow us on Facebook, just search Kimchi Green. Thanks!

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  28. Runi

    Hello,

    Can you use regular rice flour instead of glutinous rice flour???

  29. Rudd

    Great recipe. It was my first time making kimchi, and it turned out excellent. The only thing i changed was that i used more fish sauce in place of salted shrimp, and i omitted the carrot and daikon. It was delicious and i will be using this recipe every time i make kimchi.

  30. Mary

    When I have trouble finding the shrimp, I use anchovy paste instead to taste. Adds great flavor.

  31. Paul

    Years ago I saw a recipe for Kim Chi dumplings. I’m thinking a dumpling with minced Bulgogi and this Kim Chi recipe minced, would make an awesome pot sticker or dumpling. A good dipping sauce and these would be a hit.

  32. sandi

    Hi – the video is not currently available to watch….can you fix this?
    Would like to see how you do it…..even though everything is explained well. Thanks

  33. Carol

    I’ve been making this for a year now and have always meant to thank you for posting it. So, thank you!

    My request would be, should you ever have the time, to provide links to the kind of chili flakes, fish sauce, and shrimp you use. When I go to the Korean markets in my area (it is a huge community, the nation’s largest, I think) I cannot get any help. Thanks again!

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