Spicy Fermented Cabbage Kimchi – Godmother’s Recipe

Kimchi is Korea’s national dish and it is a staple in Korean cuisine. A kind of pickle that is made from fermenting various types of vegetables with some sort of fish, many Koreans eat it daily at almost every meal including breakfast. Frequently cut into bite sized pieces and served on its own as a side dish it is also a common ingredient used in many Korean dishes such as fried rice, soups, stews, pancakes and omelettes.

Here is “Godmother’s recipe” for the spicy cabbage version, which is probably the most common type found outside of Korea.

Kimchi ingredients
Some of the many ingredients that go into making Kimchi.


2 kg Chinese leaf
250 g coarse sea salt
180ml Water
20g Glutinous rice flour
450g Daikon radish, peeled and shredded
180g Carrot, peeled and shredded
100g Spring onion, cut into 1.5 inch sections
35g Ginger, finely minced
25 Cloves of garlic, finely minced
60g Fresh red chilli, finely minced
100g Red pepper powder
1 tbsp Korean prawn fish sauce
2 tbsp Sugar

You will need
Small saucepan
Small balloon whisk
Airtight container
Disposable plastic gloves (optional)
Apron (optional)
Large plastic bowl or basin that can hold enough water for the cabbage to be completely submerged in water

1. Cut the cabbage in half length ways.
2. Starting at the outer layers, salt the cabbage by rubbing salt between each leaf, do not separate the leaves. Continue layer by layer towards the centre until you are unable to open out the leaves. Repeat for the other half of the cabbage.

kimchi Salting the cabbage layer by layer
Salting the cabbage layer by layer


3. Dissolve the remaining salt in enough water to completely submerge the whole cabbage.
4. Soak in salt bath for 10-13 hours (depending on the weather – longer if cool and shorter if warm). Weigh the cabbage down with a plate.
5. Take the cabbage out, carefully wring out excess water and set aside to drain further. The cabbage will have reduced in size by about one third.

Cabbage has reduced in size by about 1/3.


6. Make a glutinous rice sauce. In a small saucepan, whisk the glutenous rice flour with water, heat on a medium flame till it simmers and the mixture thickens. It should coat the back of a spoon and you should be able to draw a line in it with your finger (don’t worry if there are a few small lumps). Allow to cool.

Kimchi making
The sauce should be of the consistency of double cream. You will be able to draw a line in it on the back of a spoon.


7. Add all of the remaining ingredients together with your cooled rice sauce into your large plastic bowl or basin and mix together throughly.

Cabbage Kimchi recipe
Put the rest of the ingredients into a large bowl or basin


Making kimchi, Korean food
Kimchi marinade should look like this once throughly mixed together.


8. With gloved hands and apron on (if using), carefully marinade and stuff one side of the cabbage with your mixture, in much the same way as you did with the salt. Start from the outside and work your way in. Once all the layers are filled, rearrange the cabbage back into shape and place it, cut side down into your airtight container. Repeat for the other side of the cabbage.


9. Scrape any left over mixture or liquid from your basin in with your cabbage.
10. Seal the container tightly and allow to fermentate for 3-5 days in the refrigerator.

Almost finished. Just 3-5 days fermentation in the fridge is needed (We didnt want to waste our excess Daikon so we cubed it and added it to the kimchi as well).



Kimchi making
Godmother looking pretty pleased with her home made Kimchi (We actually made 3 cabbages worth of Kimchi in one go, hence the fullness of our container! We would have made more if we had the space. Kimchi can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 6 months. It will become softer and more sour the longer it is kept. Kimchi that has been stored for a long time is usually reserved for making kimchi soup.


A little more about Kimchi

  • There are over 180 different types of Kimchi.
  • Not all Kimchi will contain chilli.
  • Mostly made of vegetables, and being a fermented food, Kimchi is considered to be extremely good for you. It is low in fat and contains high amounts of fibre, vitamins, minerals and beneficial bacterias.
  • Kimchi is often made by families in large batches at home, each family having their own special style or ingredients.
  • Traditionally when refrigeration was not available, kimchi was made in the winter and stored in the ground in large kimchi pots.
  • Kimchi is such an important food to Koreans that in Korea, you can purchase special kimchi refrigerators where the temperature can be kept at a specifically set constant to best develop and preserve flavours of the type of Kimchi that is being made/stored.


Speciality ingredients

Kimchi Korean fish sauce
Korean fish sauce, different Kimchis will require different types of fish for the fermentation process.


Korean chilli powder and coarse sea salt
Korean chilli powder and coarse sea salt


Coarse sea salt, Korean chilli powder and prawn fish sauce out of the packaging.


Thank you Min Ching for sharing your recipe and taking the time to make it with me, as always it was so much fun!



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