Baechu - Cabbage Kimchi
Recipe Type: Side
Prep Time: 
Total Time: 
Serves: 4
A basic, traditional recipe for spicy, tangy cabbage kimchi
  • 1 Napa cabbage
  • 6 dried red chili peppers (substitute 2 or more tablespoons of gochugaru, or Korean crushed red pepper
  • ½ carrot
  • small piece of Korean radish (substitute daikon radish)
  • 3 or 4 spring onions
  • 3 tablespoons coarse salt
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ medium white or yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons cooked white or brown rice
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons jeotgal (fish sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons gochujang (red pepper paste)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 1 pair plastic gloves (unless your hands are made of steel)
  1. Cut the cabbage in half and cut out the core from each side. Slice each cabbage half in half again, lengthwise. Then slice each cabbage strip so that you’re left with two-inch chunks. Rinse cabbage really well, then put it in the biggest bowl you have and sprinkle with salt. With gloves on, mix gently. Set aside for at least two hours.
  2. Meanwhile, soak dried red chili peppers in a bowl of water. This way, they’ll soften.
  3. Prep the veggies. Wash and peel the carrot and radish, then slice them into matchsticks. Wash and cut the spring onion into two-inch strips. Mince the garlic. Peel and roughly chop the onion.
  4. Once the dried peppers have had a chance to soften, drain them. Blend the rice and onion with ¼ cup water. Add the peppers and the last ¼ cup of water. Blitz until smooth. You should have one cup of sauce. If not, add more water until you do.
  5. After at least two hours, drain the cabbage. In another big bowl, add the sauce from step 4 and the carrot, radish, spring onion, and garlic from step 3. Add fish sauce, red pepper paste, sugar, and sesame seeds. With gloves on, mix well.
  6. Add cabbage to the ingredients from step 5. Mix gently but thoroughly. Taste, and if it’s too salty, add a bit more sugar. Transfer to a big container and press the kimchi down lightly so that every bit is covered in sauce.
  7. Let sit at room temperature for an hour, two hours, or one day. Then refrigerate.
Kimchi is incredibly forgiving so long as it has enough sugar and salt. Hye Rae swears by myeolchijeot, a kind of jeotgal, or fish sauce, made from anchovies, and though she wouldn’t imagine making baechu kimchi without it, she did give me permission to tell you it’s optional. In my opinion, jeotgal gives kimchi its quintessential freshness, a briny zing that smacks of the sea. Many kimchi recipes use saeujeot instead, which is another kind of jeotgal made with tiny shrimp. Any kind of jeotgal is okay. Just be sure to taste it first to gauge its saltiness, then adjust the amount of coarse salt you use accordingly.
Recipe by Honest Cooking at