Kimchi—Fermented Korean Napa Cabbage

Kimchi—Fermented Korean Napa Cabbage

Napa Cabbage Kimchi / Photo Credit: Hansik.orgt

Kimchi is the ultimate representation of the Power of Korean Fermentation. It is a staple banchan, or side dish, in every Korean meal, and is also used in many recipes. Of the hundreds of different variations of Kimchi, the most widely known version is made with Napa cabbage. Kimchi is made with a variety of seasonings including salt, pickled shrimp, Gochugaru (Korean red chili flakes), garlic, fish sauce, and ginger. It is enjoyed at various stages of fermentation for optimal nutrition and taste.

History of Kimchi

The first record of vegetable preservation and fermentation in Korean cuisine can be found in the Weejidongyjeon, a historical text from the 1st century AD during Korea’s Three Kingdoms period, stating that the people of the Goguryeo kingdom preserved vegetables in salt before consuming them. This method of enjoying vegetables developed into the creation of kimchi during the Unified Silla and Goryeo Dynasty periods, as people began to season the soaked vegetables with other sauces and ingredients.

Since their first import during the Joseon Dynasty, chili peppers quickly became widespread as a seasoning used to make kimchi. The Jeungbo Sallim Gyeongjae, a historical Korean text on agriculture published in the 18th century, describes 41 different variations of kimchi, including many types that are enjoyed today. These include kimchi made from cucumbers, radishes, cabbage heads, and more.

Health Benefits of Kimchi

  • Kimchi contains high levels of lactic acid bacteria that are formed throughout the fermentation process. These bacteria are extremely beneficial for the intestines and their functions.
  • Capsaicin, found in red chili peppers, is present in abundance in kimchi. The substance helps with digestion, appetite, and blood circulation.
  • The dietary fibers in kimchi are especially beneficial to people suffering from diabetes and obesity, as they activate intestinal functions and reduce cholesterol and sugar levels.
  • The various vegetables used to make kimchi can help to prevent certain cancers including colorectal and stomach cancer. Kimchi also contains thiocyanate and bactericides, which have antibiotic and anticarcinogenic properties.


Cabbage (Baechu) Kimchi Recipe by Hansik


Baechu-kimchi is made by fermenting brined Korean cabbage with Korean radish, vegetables, salt-fermented seafood, ground red pepper and various seasonings. Kimchi is a quintessential side dish that is served without fail on dining tables in Korea. Kimchi was approved as an International Standard Food by Codex in 2001. Certain studies have shown a link between Kimchi and cancer prevention.


4.8 kg (2 heads) Korean cabbage
1 kg (1 ea) radish
100 g watercress
200 g small green onion
200 g mustard leaf
200 g (1 cup) oyster
6 g (½ tablespoons) salt
400 g (2 cups) water

Kimchi liquid:

100 g (½ cup) water
2 g (½ teaspoons) salt


30 g (1⅓ cups) ground red pepper
100 g (½ cup) salted anchovy juice
100 g salted shrimps
12 g (1 tablespoon) sugar
200 g green onion
80 g (5 tablespoons) minced garlic
36 g (3 tablespoons) minced ginger
700 g (4⅓ cups) coarse salt
4 kg (20 cups) water

  1. Trim the bottom and outer leaves of the cabbage (4.5 kg), put a deep knife slit lengthwise and split it into two parts by hands, marinate them in salt water in which half (350 g) of the coarse salt dissolved, and spread remained half of the salt in between the petioles. Let it sit cutting side up for 3 hours, and then another 3 hours after turn over.
  2. Rinse the cabbage under running water for 3~4 times, drain water on a tray for about 1 hour (3.2 kg).
  3. Trim and wash the radish, shred into 5 cm, 0.3 cm-wide/thick. Trim and wash watercress stalks, small green onion and mustard leaf, cut them into 4 cm. (watercress 60g, small green onion 150 g, mustard leaf 150 g).
  4. Wash the fresh oyster softly in mild salt water and drain.
  5. Mince the solid ingredients of salted shrimps finely. Soak ground red pepper in the salted shrimps juice and salted anchovy juice.
  1. Add soaked red pepper to the shred radish, mix well, add remained seasonings, and mix well again. Add vegetables and oyster, mix softly and season with salt (1.5 kg).
  2. Pack the seasonings in between each leaf of the cabbage, fold over the outer leaves to hold the seasonings.
  3. Place it in a jar one by one until 70~80 % of the jar filled, cover the top with marinated outer leaves.
  4. Make Kimchi liquid by adding some water and salt into the Kimchi mixing container. Then finish by pouring Kimchi liquid into the jar and pressing down.

For the good taste and better nutrition of the winter cabbage Kimchi, it may be fermented under the ground at 10℃ for around 3 weeks.
Fresh shrimps and/or glue plants may be added into the Kimchi.

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