DIY Healthy Kimchi Recipe

If you've never tried kimchi, a classic Korean banchan, the description might not sound overly appealing. Assorted vegetables and other ingredients, salted and then (historically) buried underground and left to ferment. It's actually quite good by itself or as an accompaniment to other dishes. There are hundreds of kimchi varieties, and this is a basic version using two of the most common ingredients: napa cabbage and daikon radish. These days, there's no reason to bury kimchi. All you need is a glass jar with a lid. This version requires a 2-quart jar or two 1-quart jars. If you love kimchi and want to try preparing it at home, look no further than this tasty, simple recipe.

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Things You'll Need

  • 2 pounds Napa cabbage, sliced

  • 1/2 cup kosher salt

  • 4 medium cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 to 4 tablespoons Gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes)

  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger

  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar

  • 8 ounces daikon radish, peeled and sliced into 2-inch matchsticks

  • 4 scallions, sliced into 1-inch pieces

Step 1: Gather Your Ingredients

For the record, a few of these ingredients might be difficult to track down if you don't have an Asian (or slightly more upscale) market nearby. Napa cabbage and daikon radish are the traditional options. If you're unable to find them, I would suggest substituting any large green cabbage variety and omitting the daikon altogether. Daikon radishes have a subtle flavor compared to other more readily available radishes, which can have a more bitter taste. While delicious, they could alter the results. If you're unable to locate Gochugaru in stores, it can be purchased at many online retailers.

Image Credit: Jennifer Farley -

Step 2: Salt the Cabbage

Place the cabbage in a large bowl and top with the salt. Massage the salt into the cabbage for a few minutes.

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Step 3: Add Water

Top with cold water until the cabbage is completely submerged. Cover with plastic film and let stand at room temperature for at least 3 hours, or up to 1 day. Drain and rinse the cabbage, then allow to dry.

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Step 4: Prepare the Paste

In a small bowl, combine the garlic, Gochugaru, ginger, fish sauce, and sugar to form a paste. How much Gochugaru to add depends on your own personal preference for heat.

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Step 5: Mix Kimchi Ingredients

In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, daikon radish, scallions, and paste until evenly mixed. This is best done with your hands, but wear kitchen gloves. It's a potent mix!

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Step 6: Pack in a Sealable Jar

Pack the kimchi into one 2-quart or two 1-quart jars, pressing down tightly as you go. A brine will start rising up to the surface; this is a good thing. If there's no brine, wait several minutes before continuing. It will start to develop as the vegetables begin to release liquid. Leave 1 to 2 inches of space at the top of the jar.

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Step 7: Store at Room Temperature for One Week

Close the lid and store at room temperature for one week. It's a good idea to place the jar on a place or in a bowl, because as the mixture ferments, liquid might seep out of the jar (depending on what type you're using). Once per day, push down on the kimchi to help the brine coat the vegetables evenly. After fermenting, transfer the jar to the refrigerator. The flavor will continue developing over time.

Image Credit: Jennifer Farley -