Clem's Kimchi

Kimchi is a staple of Korean cuisine. There are hundreds of variations of this food. It is essentially a cold lacto-fermented vegetable. The main vegetable is cabbage (napa or  wombok variety; baechu is the Korean word for napa cabbage) with radish, spring onions and carrots added.

Here is how I made a spicy batch up:

General precautions

  • You are making a food product.
    Exercise maximum hygiene/sanitation in all your procedures.

  • The hot compound in chillis is capsaisin.
    Avoid contact with mucous membranes (e.g. eyes and nose);
    Wear gloves when needing to be in skin contact.


  • Wash one large head of wombok cabbage. Split length-wise into four quarters.

  • Find a large container to sit the cabbage in.

  • Begin liberally adding table salt to the cabbage, making sure to dust in between the leaf folds.

  • Set the salted cabbage aside for at least two hours.

The cabbage just after salting

  • While the cabbage is salting, prepare the kimchi paste.

  • Squash and peel 4 - 5 cloves of garlic, about an inch of ginger, and one large onion.

  • Blend all three ingredients.

  • To the blended aromatics, add three or four  (or as much as you like for your preferred palate) large tablespoonfuls of Korean hot pepper paste (hot chilli):

This is the Korean hot pepper paste which I used


or you can use Korean hot pepper powder:

  • Add about 50 mL of fish sauce to the paste.
    Judge this carefully as this is one of the sources of salt in the fermentation.
    There should be sufficient salt to provide for the conditions which favour lacto-fermentation to the exclusion of other microbial proliferation.

  • Optional:
    Add about 50 mL of fermented shrimp (cincalok) to the paste.
    I also added about 25 mL of fermented brine from my lacto-fermented chilli batch.

  • To about 150 mL of water, add two large tablespoonfuls of rice flour (or any starch), and two tablespoonfuls of sugar.
    Stir constantly as you bring it to the boil over heat.
    Set aside and let it cool.
    When cool, combine this thick gelatinized mix with the paste mixture which you have prepared above.

  • Slice one small radish into matchsticks.
    Slice a bunch of spring onions into inch-long lengths.
    Slice one carrot into matchsticks (I omitted this).

  • Add the sliced vegetables to the paste mixture above and mix well.

  • It is now time to wash the salted cabbage.
    It is kimchi and not salted vegetable which is being made and so as much salt as possible needs to be washed out from the initial brining. The brining stage serves to crisp up the cabbage by causing the withdrawal of water from the cabbage tissues via osmosis. Indeed one should see a collection of water around the cabbage at the end of the two hour brining period.

The cabbage after two hours of salting

  • Soak the cabbage in fresh water and discard.

  • Repeat this step as many times as necessary to rid the cabbage of external salt. Taste the cabbage to see how the desalting is progressing. A well-washed product should be just mildly salty (from internal salt which has imbibed into the cabbage tissues rather than from external salt).

  • Then drain and remove as much water as possible from the cabbage (squeeze the leaves if necessary).

  • You are now ready to add the paste to the washed cabbage.
    Spread the paste amongst the cabbage, making sure that that areas in between the leaf folds are coated with paste.

  • Tamp the cabbage into the container to be used to expel as much air as possible.
    Ensure that the cabbage is well covered by the paste juices at the end of the tamping:

Cabbage and added vegetable slices tamped into a
containerand ready to begin lacto-fermentation.


  • Cap and the place the container in a cool corner of your kitchen for a day or so to let the microbes proliferate and begin fermentation.

  • After the initial incubation, place the container ina refrigerator to begin the slow, cold-temeprature lacto-fermentation.
    This simulates the production of winter kimchi in Korea where the cabbage is fermented in the cold outdoors, in earthen jars (onggi) buried in the ground.

  • You may wish to eat the kimchi fresh (at the start of fermentation).
    When eaten fresh, the product is called baechu geotjeori.

  • It will take 2 - 3 weeks for your kimchi to be ready via cold fermentation.
    Do taste the product through time to see how it is progressing.

  • Kimchi should keep a very long time in the refrigerator (3 - 6 months).


26 Dec 21



Created by Clem Kuek