Kimjang Kimchi 김장김치 (Napa Cabbage Kimchi) Recipe

homemade-kimchi-recipe (1)

Photo by Farideh Sadeghin 

Makes: 4 pounds|1800 grams
Prep time: 1 ½ hours
Total time: 2 days


to brine the cabbage:
5 pounds|2265 grams Napa cabbage
2 cups|415 grams coarse Korean sea salt

for the kimchi dressing:
⅔ cup|85 grams gochugaru 
¼ cup|60 ml salted anchovy sauce
¼ cup|65 grams saewoo jut (Korean salted small shrimp), minced
1 pound|450 grams Korean moo radish, trimmed, peeled and cut into 2-inch long and ¼ inch pieces (like matchsticks) 
8 ounces|225 grams scallions, half trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces and half finely chopped
⅓ pound|150 grams minari, watercress, mustard greens, arugula, or any leafy bitter greens, rinsed and cut into 2-inch pieces
3 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 ½ teaspoons granulated sugar 
4 ounces|115 grams shucked raw oysters (for extra credit)

for the kimchi sauce:
pinch coarse Korean sea salt


  1. Brine the napa cabbage: Slice a thin layer of the hard, browned top of the core and remove drier outer leaves of napa cabbage. Slice the napa cabbage in half, lengthwise from the core. Keep the core intact, but score it halfway from the top (away from the part where leaves are attached). This will ensure that the more dense part of the core and the cabbage will have better exposure to the brine later.
  2. Make the brine by dissolving half of the sea salt into 8 ½ cups|2000 ml of water. Place the napa cabbage, cut side up, on a cutting board or in a large mixing bowl. Separate the leaves with your hands and sprinkle the rest of sea salt between the leaves, toward the core. Think of it as flicking sea salt toward the core of the cabbage where the leaves are heartier and stalkier. Submerge the salted cabbage cutside up into the brine. Make sure the cabbage is fully submerged in the brine. Let the cabbage sit and brine for 6 hours—cut side up for the first 3 hours, then down for the next three hours.
  3. Rinse the cabbage under running water. Gently squeeze the excess water out until there is no water dripping from the cabbage. Place the cabbage in a colander and let the water drain further, about 3 hours.
  4. Make the kimchi dressing: In a large bowl, mix together the gochugaru, salted shrimp, and anchovy sauce until it becomes a paste. Add the radish and toss until evenly combined, then add the scallions and minari, plus the garlic, ginger, and sugar. If using freshly shucked raw oysters, gently fold them into the dressing at this point.
  5. Assemble the kimchi: Gently spread napa cabbage leaves with your hand and spread the kimchi stuffing between napa cabbage leaves, taking care to get close to the core of the cabbage.  Rather than “stuffing” the leaves, think of it as painting each brined leaf reddish with the kimchi dressing. Take care to evenly distribute the paste between two brined halves of napa cabbage.
  6. Once all painted and stuffed, roll the cabbage onto itself, with the cutside folding in, core in the center and outer green layers on the outside. Use the most outer leaves to wrap around the cabbage to ensure that the stuffing does not fall out. Save any loose leaves aside. Set aside the mixing bowl without washing. Put the kimchi in a container and cover with loose leaves.
  7. Make the kimchi juice: Take the mixing bowl and the salt and ¼ cup|60 ml water, mixing well with your hand, as though you’re rinsing the bowl with the kimchi juice salt water. Pour over the kimchi in the container. The bowl should be almost clean. Pack the kimchi tightly by pressing down with your hands, so there are as few air pockets as possible between the cabbages. The jar should be about 70% full. Cover directly with plastic wrap. Kimchi should be kept in your fridge at all times, fermenting slowly at about 39 to 40°F. It is good to eat as soon as assembled or until it is very sour, but the fermentation and flavor hits its peak in about 4 to 6 weeks and starts souring in 3 months. At that time, I prefer to cook with the sour kimchi.  

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