How to Make Kimchi: 5 Delicious Kimchi Recipes to Satisfy Your Cravings!

9 mins read
By: Mayura Benjarataanapakee on Shutterstock

This is your “how to make kimchi-guide.”

After watching the BTS members turn their kitchen upside down, most of us are guilty of googling recipes like “How to make kimchi” or “How to make gimbap” after watching the BTS members turn their kitchen upside down. Yes, J-Hope, we too like Kimchi Fried Rice.

Just as Korean Pop Culture has made its mark, Korean cuisine has gained widespread popularity in the past few years and filled every nook and corner of the world.

So if you wish to know more about this Korean delicacy or how to make Kimchi and perhaps, would like to eat some of it too, then keep reading further.

How to make kimchi
By: Charles Haynes/Flickr.Copyright 2009

Kimchi is among the most popular fermented foods of Korean cuisine and is eaten alongside multiple Korean dishes. It is made of fermented cabbage daikon radish and contains healthy bacteria.

There can be several kimchi variations and many recipes on ‘how to make kimchi”. These are determined by the vegetable used and the mixture of seasoning to flavor the Kimchi.

Vegetable– One of the most common vegetables used to make Kimchi in kimchi recipes is the Napa cabbage, a type of Chinese cabbage. It is soaked in a salty brine to help develop the required flavor.

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By: Brent Hofacker on Shutterstock

Apart from Kimchi, the Napa cabbage is used in multiple Korean recipes such as cabbage pancake, pork wraps, and ox bone soup.

Another such vegetable used to make Kimchi is the Daikon radish along with Scallion (Green Onions), Garlic, Ginger, Asian Chives (Buchu), and Java Water Dropwort (Minari). Sometimes vegetables like sweet potato, tomatoes, seaweed, spinach, and pumpkins are also used in kimchi recipes.

There are so many variations in making Kimchi, and the variety of vegetables used according to one’s tastes adds to the differences among them.

Seasoning– Kosher salt is the primary seasoning ingredient used in making Kimchi. The cabbage leaves are salted twice to increase the flavor while making homemade Kimchi. However, sometimes coarse sea salt is often used in its place.

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By: Albina Buigarcheva on Shutterstock

A wide variety of other seasonings such as Fish sauce or anchovy sauce, Korean chili flakes, red pepper powder or gochugaru (chili powder), cayenne pepper are a few of the kimchi ingredients.

Most common Kimchi Variations-

  • Baechu Kimchi follows the traditional kimchi recipe of using Napa cabbage with various seasonings.
  • Baechu-Geotjeori- Unlike fermented Kimchi, this recipe uses unfermented Napa cabbage.
  • Dongchimi /Winter Kimchi is a watery variant made with Radish produced with comparatively fewer spices and seasonings.
  • Kkakdugi- It is Radish-based Kimchi that also contains fermented shrimp.
  • Oi Sobagi – It is cucumber based kimchi recipe

A necessary process to be noted while making Kimchi is fermentation. Kimchi is fermented at room temperature within 1-2 days and takes longer in the refrigerator.

The step of salting the Kimchi and adding red pepper powder curbs the growth of harmful bacteria and aids the growth of lactic acid bacteria, causing the final product to be of high quality and flavor.

The fermentation process should not last longer than 2 days, which will compromise the quality of the Kimchi. Moreover, the Kimchi should be stored in an airtight or Kimchi container post-fermentation refrigerator.

Stored Kimchi should be consumed within a week of production as its quality might deteriorate.

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Photo by SK/Flickr. Copyright 2017

Keeping all the tips in mind, here is an easy guide to making traditional homemade Kimchi.

How to make Kimchi: Tong Baechu kimchi recipe/ Napa Cabbage kimchi recipe)

The traditional kimchi recipe is the Tong Baechu kimchi, also known as the Napa cabbage kimchi. It is an excellent recipe that produces well-fermented Kimchi.

It is eaten alongside everyday meals in a Korean household. Here are some easy steps on how to make Kimchi:

Basic ingredients required to make Kimchi-

  • Napa cabbage/Chinese cabbage or few large cabbage : 8-10 lb.
  • Kosher Salt: 1 Cup

PREPARATION-

  1. Remove the stem and cut the cabbage lengthwise into halves.
  2. Cut a small slit of 3-4 inches in the Centre of each half.
  3. Soak the Napa cabbage in salt water (1/2 cup salt + 5 cups of cold water).
  4. Let it sit for about 30 minutes.
  5. Drain the excess saltwater and sprinkle salt between each cabbage leaf and let it sit for about 2 hours. This will allow the cabbage to thoroughly soak in the salt, developing its taste and flavor.
  6. Turn it over every 30 minutes for the salt to be absorbed evenly. 
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By: Cathy Chaplin/Flickr. Copyright 2010

Ingredients for Dashima Broth/ Kimchi Base

  • 2 cups plain water
  • 2 tbsp. glutinous rice flour/ all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar

PREPARATION-

  1. Heat 2 cups of plain water in medium heat and add 2 tbsp: glutinous rice flour or all-purpose flour.
  2. Stir the mixture consistently until there are no lumps formed.
  3. As the mixture starts to boil, add 2 tbsp—brown sugar.
  4. Stir occasionally to make a thin rice paste.
  5. Turn off the heat and let the broth cool.

Ingredients for Seasoning

  • Sliced daikon radish and carrots.
  • Finely chopped scallion (green onions)
  • Chopped Asian Chives (Buchu) and Java Water Dropwort (Minari) – Optional
  • 1/2 cup Fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup fermented salted shrimp.
  • 1-2 cup hot paprika powder/red pepper flakes

Ingredients for Puree

  • 1/2 cup Garlic
  • 2 tbsp. chopped Ginger
  • 1 cup chopped Onion
  • 1/4 cup plain water

PREPARATION-

  1. Add 1/2 cup garlic 1 cup Onion in 1/4 cup of plain water, and blend them into a thick paste.
  2. Add 2 tbsp. Chopped ginger and blended it into a smooth paste.
  3. Make sure the paste is fine, thick, and has no lumps.

PREPARING THE KIMCHI PASTE-

  1. Add the Dashima broth/Kimchi base and Puree and mix it thoroughly in a large bowl. Stir it continuously to dissolve any lumps.
  2. Add the chopped vegetables (Daikon Radish, Green onions, carrots)
  3. Add 1/2 cup Fish sauce to the paste.
  4. Take the fermented salted shrimp, squeeze the juice out and mince them before adding it to the Kimchi paste.
  5. Add 1-2 cups of hot paprika powder or red pepper flakes per the spice level required.

(1 cup for Mild spice, 2 cups for extreme spice)

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By; Cathy Chaplin/Flickr. Copyright 2010

Final Kimchi recipe-

  1. Wash the salted Napa cabbage in a large bowl and tear it along the slits.
  2. Drain the excess water.
  3. Spread the kimchi paste evenly along with the cabbage leaves.
  4. Beef, fish slices, or dried shrimp can be placed between the leaves for extra protein. For vegan Kimchi, refrain from adding the meat.
  5. Fill it in a Kimchi container/ an airtight container and press down to remove air pockets.
  6. Let the Kimchi sit for a few days to allow fermentation. The growth of lactic acid bacteria will release a sour smell, which means the lactic fermentation process is done.
  7. Transfer the contents into a mason jar and press it down to keep the Kimchi submerged in the kimchi juice.
  8. In hot weather, keep the mason jar in the refrigerator.
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By: Dietrich Ayala/Flickr. Copyright 2012

How to make Kimchi at home- Baechu Geotjeori (Unfermented Kimchi)

Geotjeori is an unfermented Kimchi eaten alongside Korean dishes such as mild soups and noodle soups. Here is another exciting Kimchi recipe for those who love Korean cuisine. Here are some easy steps on how to make Kimchi:

Essential ingredients required for making Kimchi-

  • Napa cabbage or a large cabbage: 2.5 lb.
  • Coarse sea salt : 3 tbsp.

PREPARATION-

  1. Remove the stem and cut the cabbage along the lengths into halves.
  2. Tear the Napa cabbage leaves and place them in a large bowl.
  3. Add 3 tbsp. Coarse sea salt and mix them lightly.
  4. Sprinkle some water over the cabbage to speed up the salting process.
  5. Let it sit for about 60 minutes and flip over the leaves every 20 minutes.
  6. The salting is over when the cabbage is wilted and slightly bendable. Then, rinse the leaves in plain water.
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By: Cathy Chaplin/Flickr. Copyright 2012

Ingredients for Seasoning

  • Sliced daikon radish and carrots.
  • Finely chopped scallion (green onions)
  • Chopped Asian Chives (Buchu) and Java Water Dropwort (Minari) – Optional
  • 1 tbsp. cup Fish sauce
  • One cup Korean Oligodang, corn syrup, or brown sugar for sweetening.
  • 2 tbsp. Garlic
  • 1/2 tbsp. chopped ginger
  • Sesame seeds

PREPARATION-

  1. Crush the garlic and mince it with a knife.
  2. Grate the ginger into a fine consistency.
  3. Add the ginger and garlic into a large bowl and 4 tbsp Korean Red Chili flakes.
  4. Mix them thoroughly with 3 tbsp of fish sauce.
  5. Since this kimchi recipe does not require fermentation, a sweetener develops the taste. Add 2 tbsp of sweetener and a couple of spoons of water to thin the seasoning.
  6. Mix the paste well.
  7. Add the chopped vegetables and the rinsed cabbage leaves, mix them all.
  8. Touch up with sesame seeds, and it is ready to serve.

How to make Kimchi at home- Dongchimi (Winter Kimchi)

Dongchimi is water kimchi made of Radish. It is traditionally made before winter or late fall and is called ‘Winter Kimchi.’ Here are some easy steps on how to make Kimchi:

Basic Ingredients required-
  • 6-8 Korean radishes.
  • 1/3 cup Kosher Salt

PREPARATION-

  1. Wash the radishes and clean them thoroughly.
  2. Add the salt to a large bowl and dip the Radish in the salt and coat it evenly.
  3. Put the salted Radish in a glass jar and some radish leaves on top.
  4. Close the lid and refrigerate for 4-5 days.

Ingredients for Seasoning-

  • Four cloves of minced garlic.
  • 2 tbsp. minced Ginger
  • 2-3 green chili peppers
  • 2-3 red chili peppers
  • 1 cup of finely cut Korean Pear
  • 3 Scallions with roots
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 9 cups of water

PREPARATION-

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By: Incheols Hwang on Shutterstock
  1. Wrap the ginger and garlic in a cloth with its ends tied together and place it inside the jar.
  2. Poke a few holes into the green chili peppers and red chili peppers and add them along with the tied garlic and ginger to the jar.
  3. Add the finely cut pear, chopped onions, and green onions along with cups of water and stir lightly with a spoon.
  4. Close the lid back and leave the jar at room temperature for 2-3 days to let the kimchi ferment.
  5. Post-fermentation, the water will turn milky and smell sour. Store it in the refrigerator and serve when required.

How to make Kimchi- Kkakdugi (Cubed Radish Kimchi)

Kkkakdugi is a kimchi recipe made of Radish and popular in Korean cooking. It is served alongside daily meals paired with the traditional Napa cabbage kimchi. Here are some easy steps on how to make Kimchi:

Basic ingredients-

  • 4 lb. of Korean Radish
  • 2 tbsp. coarse sea salt
  • 2 tbsp. sugar

PREPARATION-

  1. Peal and thoroughly clean the Korean Radish and cut them into cubes of about 1 inch.
  2. Add 2tbsp. Of both salt and sugar and mix them well.
  3. Set the mixture aside for 30 minutes to allow the Radish to soak the salt and sugar seasoning.

Ingredients for Seasoning-

  • 4 finely chopped scallions (green onions)
  • 1 tbsp. minced Ginger
  • 2 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 2/3 cup Korean chili flakes

PREPARATION-

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By: Becky’s on Shutterstock
  1. Drain the Radish juice into a bowl and add the minced garlic, ginger, and onions.
  2. Add 1/4 cup of fish sauce and 2/3 cup of Korean chili flakes into the mixture.
  3. Mix all the ingredients into a consistent paste and make sure the radish cubes are evenly coated with seasoning to develop their flavor.
  4. Transfer the kkakdugi into a glass jar and press down the contents to remove all air pockets.
  5. Leave it outside for 2-3 days and let the kimchi ferment. Store away in a refrigerator post-fermentation and serve when required.

How to make Kimchi- Oi Sobagi (Cucumber Kimchi)

Oi Sobagi is a traditional kimchi recipe with kimchi paste stuffed with vegetables in a cucumber pocket. It does not require fermentation and can be served straight after preparation. Here are some easy steps on how to make Kimchi:

Basic ingredients-

  • 2 lb. worth of cucumber
  • 2 tbsp. salt

PREPARATION-

  1. Wash and clean the cucumbers and slice them twice along the length at right angles while keeping the end intact. This will turn them into pockets.
  2. Please place them in a bowl and add salt both inside and out. Make sure that salt has been rubbed evenly along the length of the cucumbers. Let them sit for about 20 minutes to allow the cucumbers to soak in the salt.
  3. After 20 mins, rinse the cucumbers to remove excess salt and drain them.
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By: niceness/Flickr. Copyright 1980

Ingredients for Seasoning-

  • 1 cup Buchu ( Asian Chives) finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 medium-sized carrot cut into thin stripes
  • 1/2 cup pepper flakes.
  • 3 tbsp. Fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp. sesame seeds

PREPARATION-

  1. Take a bowl and add the Asian chives, thinly sliced carrot, hot pepper flakes, fish sauce, brown sugar, and sesame seeds. Mix them thoroughly and make a paste.
  2. Stuff the paste into the cucumber pockets.
  3. Serve as required and store in the refrigerator.

Apart from the easy kimchi recipes, here is a list of dishes paired alongside Kimchi to turn every meal into a happy one.

  1. Pair your traditional Kimchi with a bowl of steaming rice and fried eggs. This healthy meal has a balanced amount of nutrients and a good protein intake. Moreover, it keeps you full for several hours.
  2. Kimchi Fried Rice- Fry your leftover rice in some kimchi and olive oil to make a quick meal while you are in a rush. It is healthy, filling, and will satisfy your cravings.
  3. Kimchi with Dumplings- Pair kimchi with pork/beef or chicken fillings and wrap them into little dumplings. This blend of cuisine will lift your mood like no other.
  4. Kimchi noodles- Add Kimchi to your noodles to get an instant kick in taste. Easy to cook and has a savory flavor. The spicy flavor of the Kimchi blended with the noodles is a perfect dinner for a night in.
  5. Kimchi with Barbequed chicken- No other meal can beat the combination of Barbequed chicken with some kimchi alongside. This heavenly pair will leave you craving more and more of it.
  6. Kimchi stew- Slow cook some kimchi with leftover beef or pork stew to add a new flavor and eat with steamed rice. This is great for days when you’re too lazy to cook but are also skeptical about ordering in.

Here are some other unusual dishes that you can pair with your homemade Kimchi. I hope the post satisfied the budding chef in you.

Make sure to comment down which recipe you tried and liked the most. HAPPY COOKING.

Also, click here for a quick guide on 25 Kids Bento Box ideas.

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