Recipe: How to Make Your Own Kimchi

This is a quick and simple recipe - and far more delicious than any ready made kimchi we've found. The kimchi changes flavour over time as it continues to ferment, even when it is kept in the refrigerator. When you eat it completely depends on personal taste - have a spoonful every few days, then decide.

Tuck in the moment the kimchi is made, and the red pepper and ginger are the strongest flavours. After a couple of days there will be a slight fizz but the pepper kick remains and after a week it is a little fizzer, but the flavours seem more balanced. Two to three weeks and it starts to deserve its nickname 'stinky kimchi'. It can be kept in the freezer to stop the fermentation.

Once you get into it, you can add other vegetables: grated carrot, daikon radish, and even replace the cabbage with pak choi or cucumber.  However, try to keep the same ratio of anchovy sauce as it the salt preserves the vegetables.

Read more background and history on the famous condiment here 'Kimchi: Korea's greatest food?'


Ingredients, makes 2 x 500g jars Serves: 20


Method

  1. Slice the Chinese leaf into 1cm rounds, and separate the leaves. Toss with the salt until evenly covered, and leave to sit at room temperature for four hours. The cabbage will release water and soften.
  2. Rinse the cabbage with tap water to wash away the salt, and drain well.
  3. Mix the red pepper powder with the water and anchovy sauce, to make a runny bright-red paste. Pour over the cabbage.
  4. Add the ginger, garlic and spring onions to the cabbage and red pepper paste. Mix well using your hands. The paste should coat all the cabbage.
  5. Divide the mixture into glass jars, leaving a couple of centimetres of space at the top.
  6. To remove all the air bubbles, press down well with your fingers. Some liquid will rise to the top. If you press down well, and there still isn't enough liquid to cover the cabbage mixture, add another 1-2 tbsp of water directly on top.
  7. Screw the lids on tightly, and leave at room temperature for a day, and then move to the refrigerator.

12 comments

  • Ann – you don’t tend to see visible bubbles from fermentation with this style of kimchi. However, you will start to taste it souring, and the cabbage leaves themselves will taste sour and almost like they have tiny bubbles in after some time continuing to ferment in the fridge. If you want a more ‘reactive’ kimchi straight away (as per comments below), search for a recipe that uses a flour roux. However, we haven’t found the taste itself is much different. Similarly as per other comments below if your tap water is highly chlorinated, that might reduce fermentation and so bottled water might give you a better result (in north London, we haven’t found to be an issue).

    Nicola - Sous Chef on

  • Follows this recipe, used rock salt and tap water, No bubbles after 2 days so assume no fermentation. Room temp 21C. Most disappointing. Do not know what the problem is.

    Ann on

  • Here I am, reading away – yes I will definitely have a go at making this. Beautiful photos, beautiful sounding ingredients. I’m in !

    Joanna on

  • Beautiful :)

    Miss Whiplash on

  • I make kimuchi like your recipe without anchovy sauce!
    Your kimuchi looks delicious

    Keiko on

  • Maybe your salt contained iodine or anti-caking agents, can stop ferment, so can chlorinated water. Or try to leave at room temperature for longer, I leave sauerkraut to ferment for days, even weeks. The fermentation prevents spoiling, that’s why it was adopted centuries ago.

    John Williams on

  • No idea at all! I make exactly this recipe every month or so. Maybe you’re expecting to more gas to be generated? Recipes that use a flour roux always create more pressure in the fermenting container – so the fermenting is more obvious (I suspect the flour is just extra food to help the bacteria activate more quickly) – however in taste tests we’ve done, the kimchi tastes no different. We’ll be back in the office on Tuesday after the bank holiday, so – if you’d like to talk through – drop us an email with your phone number and I can give you a call.

    nicola on

  • I’ve used this recipe but could not get the kimchi to ferment, has anyone got any clues as to what I may be doing wrong?

    Chris Lawson on

  • That’s a good thought. It isn’t something I’ve come across, and have always had good results with tap water: both in the UK and in a cookery school in South Korea (similarly with sourdough starters that some people can only get to work with bottled water). Perhaps it depends on your local water? Which brand of bottled water do you find works?

    nicola on

  • To get the Kimchi to ferment you need to use bottled water to rinse the cabbage…tap water will not work. Once I got this right my Kimchi bubbles away like mad! It is so delicious…we use English radishes and turnip cut in matchsticks alongside the Chinese cabbage. Good luck!

    Lucy Thorpe on

  • Great recipe I’ve had superb results, couldn’t get Korean anchovy sauce in my part of the UK but the Thai stuff worked fine. Very tasty. First attempt was too salty as I didn’t wash the original salt off sufficiently, but next couple of batches were fab. Thanks for sharing.

    TomK on

  • Hi there

    I will definitely try this recipe. Would ordinary Nam Pla work OK do you think? I don’t have the Korean anchovy sauce.

    Also, which supermarkets stock this Chinese cabbage? Don’t think I’ve seen it in Sainsbury’s!

    Lizzie on

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